When our male Ragdoll Leo reached his first birthday, we celebrated his fantastic long coat, large ears, and long fluffy tail. We posted videos of him enjoying a Yeooowww catnip banana on the Floppycats Facebook page.
But underneath the banana-swatting antics there was something wrong. We were noticing that he was starting to scratch his ears and around his eyes. Within a few days he had scratched so much that the skin under his sparse fur inside his ear cups was scratched and raw.
The insides of his ears were turning black with what looked like dirty earwax. He would shake his head from side to side even in the middle of sleeping. His eyes began to weep a runny brownish fluid and he spent excessive time grooming his face with the sides of his paw. In addition his sclera (whites of his eyes) began to turn a frightening pinkish color.
It was time to take Leo to the vet. At the vets Dr. Bob (our vet) gave Leo a thorough examination including swabbing inside his ears and administering a stain agent in his eyes to check for Herpes virus. After a few tests Dr. Bob came back and informed us that Leo had conjunctivitis in both eyes and Otitus – a common bacterial infection of the outer ears in cats. He had the vet tech clean the dirt and wax out from inside his ear cups and showed us how to grab Leo by the scruff of his neck, pull the skin back, and stretch his face so we could administer eye drops to treat the conjuntivitus. He also gave us Otibiotic ointment to apply inside his ears.
After a few days of treatment, Leo began to feel and look better. We breathed a sigh of relief, assuming that the issue was resolved. But a week later the symptoms seem to return. He was still itchy, and his right eye continued to weep – especially after eating. We kept applying the eye drops, but eventually his right eye got so bad that it developed a crusty layer of kitty tears around the whole eye. Poor guy !
We took Leo back to vet for a second examination.
Dr. Bob performed another eye test, but could not see any other problems other than conjunctivitus. He cleaned up Leo's face and administered eye drops. He started to suspect that Leo might be allergic to something. He thought it was unusual in a cat so young, but thought it was possible. He asked us what feed our cats and if they ever go outdoors. We explained what we feeding at time, and no our cats do not go outdoors – but they do spend lots of time on kitty perches on window ledges. Dr Bob wanted us to try a hypo-allergenic food with Leo for a three month period to eliminate any possibilities of a food allergy. We expressed our doubts that Leo would eat it (he’s a very fussy eater) but we promised to try and took him home with a few sample cans of Royal Canine hypo-allergenic food.
At Leos next feeding, we opened the can of Royal Canine and let him give the lid the sniff test – nope ! Leo was having none of it.
Now what ? We were not sure what to do next, so we went to the pet store and bought a variety of different foods featuring various flavors. Some of them he ate, some got the patented Leo “huff-and-walk-away”.
We began to notice that Leo's eye would weep more if he ate something with duck meat as an ingredient.
Hmmm – OK – scratch duck off the shopping list.
Along with switching foods like an impatient teenager, my wife began to notice that Leo's symptoms seem to worsen after sleeping with us on our bed. I mean this was a fast reaction – within 8 hours of sleeping on our bedcovers we saw a difference.
Could Leo be allergic to the detergent we use on our clothes?
We went to store and bought non-scented, no dye detergent. We pulled off all the bedsheets and washed them in the scent-free and dye-free laundry detergent and put them back on bed.
After sleeping on bed with us Leos symptoms did not worsen – instead they continued to improve.
Armed with this new discovery, my wife Tammy got busy re-washing all our clothes in the new scent free detergent. After several wash loads and giving away all our canned food with duck to the women I work with who rescues strays our home was now “Leo safe”.
We kept up the eye drops and the Oitibiotic treatments and Leo continued to improve.
After a few weeks his face and ears returned to their normal impossibly cute and fluffy selves, and now we keep a hawks eye on him to keep him that way.
Since that time we must be vigilant about exposing him to anything scented – he will weep and itch within eight hours of exposure to any scented detergent which seems quite severe. Interestingly he is not affected by scented candles, air fresheners, or perfume.
Leo back to his normal devastatingly handsome self.