During the fall and winter months, we continued to follow veterinary guidance to explore the realm of diets that can hopefully either point to an allergen or exclude food-related allergies as one of our culprits. (Fury has come to love her diet food of rabbit and pea Royal Canin even better than what we were buying in the pet stores, so that’s a bonus since it was a must-eat prescription food for many months.) The end result we came to was that the occasional itching/scratching below and behind Fury’s ears were not due to a food-related allergy.
We learned though as pet owners that allergies are a long test to understand. While some cats need 2 months or so to determine if an allergy is present in food, with the risks related to Fury and being sure of an outcome, we took 4 months to be certain.
Our goal continues to be to have her not having to wear a cone at all, but so far, we do have to rely on it most of the time to ensure the risk for self-injury is prevented.
As we returned to the vet for check-ups at both our local vet’s office and CSU in Colorado, we began to notice her hair falling out where her skin was scabbed from injuries. We still hadn’t gotten a look at the healing injury on her back, as it was re-wrapped weekly by the vets we saw. But the entire back of her neck lost all of it’s hair after we observed what we’d call dark red irritation bruising that crept up her skin after the horrible back injury. She also developed 2-3 thick, crusty “scabs” near her shoulder blades that ultimately could be peeled off, gently, only to leave a powdery white space that became gray and speckled in coloration and never grew hair back. It was surprising that the vet could peel these scabs off and Fury would barely feel a thing.
Several weeks later, the local vet determined that her skin wasn’t going to be able to heal the entire way on its own and after nearly 2 months of healing and body bandage re-wraps, they would have to debride this area and leave the wound open to heal on it’s own. This wasn’t a pleasant thing to see or look after, but our vet was right; it did ultimately heal after several more weeks.
We next moved into the phases of medication investigation. We started with explorations of steroids, anti-seizure meds and other regimens that our vets have experience with in certain situations. I’d caveat this though to clarify that our vet team was great at finding doses that were tolerable without adverse reactions. The progress was obvious after several weeks: Fury was no longer having those frantic states of sprinting out of the room, looking like she was hallucinating or attacking herself. For several weeks at this point, we really felt like we were heading in a better direction (granted we wished we could snap our fingers and make it instant, but still, we were hopeful). Continue reading
After making an introductory post about our cat Fury, I wanted to start documenting several medical challenges with her that we are working through. There is little information out there (for pet owners or veterinarians) for animals like Fury and hopefully, by maintaining her story online, it can be one more source for cat owners (and other animal owners) that struggle with these conditions:
Early Spring 2018
Earlier this spring, we noticed that as Fury grew, she often scratched aggressively behind and below her ears with her back feet. It was just, a bit much. Minor injuries began to occur as slices or tears of the skin below where her ears met her neck. These were usually enough to require a small number of stitches or glue to close back up again. Our local vet was very investigative when it came to these injuries. Yet without any presenting symptom other than itching, we didn’t really have any clear diagnosis other than to begin assessing skin allergies.
We began to notice other odd behaviors as well over the weeks. Randomly, Fury would be in the room with us, and out of nowhere, she would enter a moment of frantic agitation. One second she’s fine, the next her pupils were dilated, she postured as if she was ready to enter fight or flight mode and she would sometimes dash out of the room for no reason at all. In fact, it almost seemed as though she was hallucinating. And just a moment later, she’d flip an invisible switch and be entirely back to normal again.
We started searching online for any guidance of what we could be dealing with and we started seeing feline hyperesthesia syndrome (or “Twitchy Back” syndrome). It seemed to perfectly align with most of her behavior but didn’t account for other behavior. We also noted from reading and in discussion with our local vet that this was a diagnosis only arrived at after ruling out many, many other diagnoses first, so this was put to the side until we could confirm more. Continue reading