Food Allergies in Cats with Dr. Jean Hofve

First published: Nov 15, 2012

Thank you to Dr. Jean for taking the time to talk to Floppycats about Food Allergies in Cats.

Dr. Jean’s book, The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook, will teach you more about the holistic approach to cat health and care.

Dr. Jean also covers Food Allergies in Cats with Dr. Jean Hofve on her site as well as in an article that she wrote on Only Natural Pet – “Overview of Allergies – Part 1 of a 3 part series“.

We’ve now done several interviews with Dr. Jean, feel free to check any of them out:

Food Allergies in Cats with Dr. Jean Hofve

Audio Recording: Interview with Dr Jean Hofve about Food Allergies in Cats (click here) or you can listen to it by playing the YouTube video below:


Here is a transcript of our conversation:

Jenny: Today is October 29, 2012 and we are going to talk with Dr. Jean Hofve today about food allergies.  Dr. Jean, thank you very much again for talking to me.

Dr. Hofve: My pleasure.

Jenny:  So as far as food allergies, what’s the most common allergy problem in cats? Is it food or is it something else?

Dr. Hofve: Well if you listen to the veterinary dermatologists and gastroenterologists, actually inhalant allergies are more common. But the very most common is flea bite allergies, then pollen and dust mites and that kind of stuff, and then food allergies.  But one thing that’s a little bit of a twist there is that some dermatologists think that for ear infections, when they get real red itchy ears, up to 50 percent of those are food allergies.

Because food allergies can show up in two places in a cat. They can show up in the GI tract, which can develop into inflammatory bowel disease or even lymphoma, so it’s something you definitely want to deal with – but it’s usually diarrhea or vomiting – or they show up on the skin as rashes and particularly in cats around the face, the head, the ears. You know that kind of baldy spot in front of the ears?

Jenny:  Yes.

Dr. Hofve: That is the number one place that they get itchy, and they can tear that up. There’s no protection, and they get their little back feet on that and just rip it to shreds. So it’s obviously very, very uncomfortable for them.  And of course since they’re using their back feet to scratch it, that’s carrying the fecal bacteria right up there from the cat box and you get secondary bacterial infections and you’ve got a real big darn mess.

Jenny:  Yes.  I have seen that.

Dr. Hofve: Yes.  I bet you have.

Jenny:  Ok, you listed the three most common. You said inhalants, and then it sounded like you said sleep?

Dr. Hofve: Flea bites. Fleas.

Jenny:  Fleas. Thank you.  Then that makes sense.

Dr. Hofve: Dealing with fleas is hard. No doubt about it.

Jenny:  Yes. Reason enough for me to move to New Mexico or Colorado.

Dr. Hofve: Colorado is nice. Yes. Not many fleas here. I did make the mistake once of moving into a house where somebody from Connecticut had been living and her cat brought in fleas, and that whole house was a mess. But we don’t have a lot of native fleas.  The wildlife have them, so if your cat is out hunting your cat can get fleas. But it’s pretty unusual.

Jenny:  Ok. So this is a little bit off topic but what did you do to get rid of the fleas in that Connecticut house?

Dr. Hofve: I bombed, did flea bombs.  I wouldn’t do that now. That was my first year in vet school. Now I would have an exterminator come in because they guarantee their work. But you have to get the cats out for a day while that’s going on. So it’s a real pain in the hinder portions and it’s a whole lot easier to keep them out than to deal with them once they’re there.

Jenny:  Ok. Yep, I agree. That’s good to know that it’s a day because I always worry that I’m not doing it long enough.

Dr. Hofve:  The exterminators use non-toxic borax on the carpet and that kind of thing so it’s not as bad. The bombs, I felt terrible about using those. I had done that in California for years of course because we lived a block from the beach and you could sit outside and watch the fleas hop through the door. That was a bad situation. But in Colorado we are really, really lucky to not have to deal with that.

Jenny:  Yes. That is very nice.  I lived in New Mexico for a short period while I was in school and my boyfriend at the time, his cat got fleas. And he swore to God that I brought them with me from the airplane from Kansas City.  I was like I don’t know if a flea could survive an airplane ride but maybe.

Dr. Hofve: Probably not but you never know I guess.

Jenny:  So you’ve listed the common allergy problems. Can you touch more on some of the signs of food allergies? You mentioned right below the ears, above the eye area.

Dr. Hofve: Yes. The trickiest thing about food allergies is it’s hard to tell them apart from other allergies, and none of the tests for allergies work particularly well in cats.  In dogs you can do a blood test and you can test for things like fleas and dust mite allergies, tree pollen, grass, mold, all that. Those tests are worthless in cats. In dogs you can also do the intradermal skin testing which is pretty accurate in dogs. Again, completely worthless in cats.

So when you’re dealing with something that looks like an allergy, it’s pretty tough to tell which one it is. But they are kind of universal things. I do want to go off on the side for just a minute.  A lot of people, if their cat is picking or has diarrhea, they say oh, he’s allergic to the food. Probably not. It’s probably what we call food intolerance. It’s not a true allergy.  An allergy actually involves the immune system, and it involves the allergen, for example chicken is the most common allergen in dogs and cats because it’s the food that they’re most exposed to. And we’ll talk about how you get allergies in a little bit.

That protein actually has to be pulled into their bloodstream, the immune system has to react to it and start creating antibodies. Then the cells that make the antibodies, the B cells, they all go running down to the GI tract and gather along the lining of the GI tract so that they have a good line of defense right where the allergens are getting in through the blood stream; they try and keep it from doing that. Well if you’ve got an inflamed intestinal tract, then that’s a situation where you’re going to get vomiting or diarrhea.

But food intolerance can cause the exact same symptoms and you may never know because the only way to know is a biopsy, which the treatments are similar so why put your cat through an eight or nine hundred dollar procedure. It’s very hard to tell a food allergy from other things that cause those symptoms, so what I would caution people is don’t jump to conclusions that it’s a food allergy because it may not be that bad. It may be something that’s easier to correct.

Jenny: So what would be some of the common treatment options for either food intolerance or food allergies if you were trying to figure out which one it was?

Dr. Hofve: Figuring out which one it is is harder too because the treatments for both of them is change the diet. Now for food allergy, you would want to change to something that the cat has not been exposed to.  Allergies are almost always to proteins, and they are almost always to things that the cat has been exposed to over time. So you know, remember that stupid Purina commercial where the woman puts the bowl down and the dog pushes it under the rug because it’s a new food, then they intone Purina every day. No. That’s a great way to cause food allergies.  Feed the same thing every day for years – that will get you a food allergy.

So it’s easier to prevent it, but the treatment is going to be get them off that food.  Now for food intolerance, just changing brands or flavors and not in any particular organized way, just changing often will solve the problem. But a food allergy, you’re going to have to change to a completely different protein source.  The top allergens in cats are chicken, beef, fish, wheat, corn and dairy products, so milk and cheese and all that. Those things are in most cat foods. Fish in particular, a lot of the really good brands use fish as a flavoring and as a source of essential fatty acids.

So it’s pretty tough to find a truly hypoallergenic food or what they call a novel ingredient food because you’re giving cats something novel that they haven’t had before. The twist to this is that there are a lot of over the counter foods that are good quality that claim to be hypoallergenic or for allergies. It will be like venison and green peas or duck or rabbit or emu or beaver or whatever it is.  But because of the way the food is made and the way that the labeling has to be, the study found all kinds of proteins in the food that was called venison. They did not find venison, but they found chicken, they found beef, they found a whole bunch of stuff.

So the over the counter brands, not so reliable. But of course the prescription brands are all terrible ingredients. However, you may need to start with the prescription brand until the symptoms diminish and then you can start adding back in other things and see how the cat does. It takes 8-12 weeks of being 100% perfect.  If you are going to do a diet trial to determine if it is a food allergy.  If it’s a food intolerance, change of diet is going to help immediately.  Skin and GI sensitivity before a true food allergy will resolve in a couple of weeks, but skin symptoms take months.

So if you’re going to try and determine if it’s a food allergy for a cat with skin rashes and itchiness, you have to feed 100% exclusively a food that you know is really, really pure, and you cannot have any snacks, no treats, no cheating, no spilling chicken on the floor and the cat gets it, none of that. So it’s difficult. The skin symptoms are really tough to clear up when it’s a food allergy. But basically the treatment for everything is to change foods, and it’s just how and to what food and to what extent you have to be really, really perfect.

Jenny: Yes.

Dr. Hofve: Because only an allergy requires that level of strictness.

Jenny: Ok.  Well that sounds nightmarish with my cat.  Gosh, like last night we were eating Vietnamese food and he loves the chicken from the spring rolls.

Dr. Hofve: Yes.  So if it’s a true food allergy, you can’t cheat.

Jenny: Right, right.

Dr. Hofve: There’s no tears in baseball and there’s no cheating on cats.

Jenny: Yes.  That would be pretty tough based on how crazy he is about those.  But that makes sense.

Dr. Hofve: Well, you’re just going to have to go off of Chinese food for a few months.

Jenny: Yes.  That definitely makes sense.  So really there is no need to worry about preventing allergies?

Dr. Hofve: Oh yes, absolutely. The best way to prevent food allergies is to not feed the same food every day for years. I recommend changing foods frequently. And the other thing I recommend is stop the dry food, because there are many, many more allergens in dry foods because it is heat processed, not just once but twice. And that kind of heat causes the proteins to denature, which means deform. They get all twisted and catty wompus, and those are what the immune system will pick up on first, and that’s where you get a lot of food allergies is from heat processed foods.

Canned foods are heat processed but at a much lower temperature. Dry food temperature processing about 250 degrees, canned food about 160 degrees, so big, big difference there. And also the best, best, best dry food is still bad because of all the processing, the dehydrating, the additives, the preservatives. You have to have all that in a dry food and you don’t have to have hardly any of that in a wet food. It’s so much easier to get a wet food that’s relatively clean if you want to use that term.

My cats don’t get the same meal twice in a row, ever.  I use some canned and I make raw and I use a mixture and I use all kinds of different stuff. They don’t necessarily always like it, but in my house we practice tough love, and that is that’s what your dinner is. And if you don’t want to eat your dinner you’re going to be really hungry. And guess what, for breakfast they eat.  People are always so freaked out “Oh my God, he didn’t eat that.” They’re not going to starve overnight. They’re not going to become emaciated between the time you leave for work and the time you come home, even if you work late.

The other way to prevent food allergies is don’t leave food out all the time. The GI tract of a cat is designed to eat a lot and then rest.  So having food, like if dry food is left out, or any kind of food is left out and they can nibble all day long, that natural rest period never occurs. And that I think is a real problem.

Jenny: Ok. So like in my household I give them like three cans of wet food a day and they might eat half of it in the morning, and I just leave it out until it’s done, and then they get another can if it’s finished. Is that a wrong approach?

Dr. Hofve: If you have a cat that’s allergic, that’s truly allergic, that probably is not a good approach.  I would leave the food out for an hour, and pick it up.  I’m lucky I work from home, so if they come back an hour later and they’re bugging me, then I can put it back out. And I cheat too.  Sometimes I leave it out overnight.  This morning it was completely finished and for some reason that was a good combination for them.  But they get all kinds of combinations and not everything is a big hit. I don’t like everything on the menu of any restaurant either.

But I wish people could relax about feeding their cats because most of us are on a schedule so it’s easy to put the cats on a schedule. But I find that my cats eat more at certain times a year. They eat more in certain weather. And it’s almost like they eat meat, meat, meat. Every day they eat every scrap immediately. And then after a week they won’t eat for a day.  That’s annoying. I miss my dog because I hate throwing away all that cat food.

But it is a natural variation and we shouldn’t expect our cats to eat the same thing every day at the same time. That is not how a cat is designed to operate. If your cat didn’t eat real good this morning, well maybe offer him something different in the evening and try the first food tomorrow. Experiment.  My cats eat much better after dark.

Jenny: Yes.  Well, I was going to say that because one of my cats eats very well in the morning and the other one could care less about food in the morning but likes to eat at night.

Dr. Hofve: If you can you can put food out for an hour in the morning and an hour when you get home from work or school, whatever your schedule is, and then an hour before bed.  And they’ll figure that out pretty quick that they better eat the food when it’s there.  And that’s a better way to feed a cat. They normally would eat a number of small meals throughout the day, but they wouldn’t nibble, they wouldn’t graze all day. They would catch two or three mice, go sleep for a few hours, get hungry, go catch a couple of grasshoppers.

They would not be on a fixed schedule every day or eating the same type of food every day or eating in the same pattern every day.  I think we put such expectations on cats, I think it stresses them, and stress is going to create more problems than you’ve got already. It’s great to have a schedule because it’s easy for you to remember. But your cat is not necessarily going to abide by that so just don’t freak out if he doesn’t eat one meal.

If I ate a big lunch, maybe I’m not going to eat dinner. Or if it’s just too hot or too windy, or unbeknownst to me there was construction by me all day, their appetite is going to change. I think trying to create these artificial situations is also a contributor to allergies and intolerances, probably more to intolerances. I’m still working on that cat poop book, I’m going to say all of that in there.

Jenny: Ok good. That is definitely a book that is needed, especially why cats poop outside of the litter box but pee inside of it. Man, I get that all the time.

Dr. Hofve: I know it, I know it.  It’s usually, what do they say in computers, operator error.

Jenny: Yes. Well that’s the hard thing too, when somebody emails you that, you’re like well can I transport myself into your basement, into your laundry room, then maybe I can tell you. But I have no idea without asking you a billion questions.

Dr. Hofve: Yes. My partner Jackson Galaxy makes a lot of money doing that.

Jenny: Yes.

Dr. Hofve: Take video of the whole house, because you have to see the situation. There’s just so many things that we’re all stressed out about and our cats are great shielders and they take on that stuff for us and their kind of species’ weak points are skin and urinary tract, and they hold stress in those places. You get a lot of physical problems from that. We’re a little far off field now.

Jenny: Yes. Sorry, but you’re making me think that I want to have a cat resource site link to all this kind of stuff. So I appreciate that.

Dr. Hofve: LittleBigCat has a lot of that stuff because whenever I hear the same question five times I write an article about it. So then I don’t have to remember what I said before.

Jenny: Well that’s good.  I will look at that.  I never feel comfortable because I haven’t been professional trained to write those kind of articles so that’s why I’d like to have the resource links instead.

Dr. Hofve: There’s plenty. Jackson Galaxy’s site is very good too. He’s got a lot of do it yourself home behaviorist tips.

Jenny: Ok good.  So what’s the worst case of food allergies or food intolerance that you’ve seen in a cat?

Dr. Hofve: I actually had a couple of these. They’re both tortoise shell cats as a matter of fact and they got itchy around their head and neck. And we got most of it cleared up but between their should blade, kind of the back, there was about a 4-inch square patch of skin that they had gone after so horribly that it was scarred, it was weepy, it was bloody, it was thickened, it was absolutely horrible. It was like you took a piece of charred meat and sewed it on to them. It was just awful.

Because the skin was so thickened, no internal treatment was going to get to the outside and of course if you put something on it they were just going to rub and scratch and get it off. What we ended up doing for both of those kitties, Vivian was the first one. She was so cute.  But she was a stray. We had a cat clinic and of course everybody that finds a cat, “Oh, let’s take them to the cat clinic.”  Poor Vivian, but we actually did surgery and removed that entire patch of skin. Because there was nothing else to do.

We just cut the whole thing out, and of course cats have a lot of loose skin in that area. Made a beautiful incision and it healed. But it was so awful that we were never going to get control of it.  There was no way to medicate it; there was no way to reach it from the blood stream effectively because it was just such a mess.  It was almost like a tumor, like somebody ironed a tumor onto the back of her neck. It was just terrible.  And I ran into another one a few years later and had to do the same thing.

Jenny: Gosh, that sounds miserable.  I had a small bout of eczema and I think that’s nothing compared to that description [gasp].

Dr. Hofve: You feel so awful for them. They’re just miserable.  Cats will tear themselves limb from limb, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I know vets have tried to put little booties on them or tape up their feet or tape baby socks onto their back feet, keep the back claws trimmed and all that, but you know what, they’ll just throw themselves upside down on a rug.  It’s so itchy, it’s so itchy, and you know if you have an itch like that you are going to find a way to scratch it. You’re going to find a wall or something to rub it on. It’s really awful.

So when you see the first sign of itching of any kind, get on it because it could go downhill so fast.  It’s bad.  So let me talk about the conventional treatments for food allergies which of course is steroids. Cats are relatively resistant to the side effects of steroids but you don’t want to condemn a cat to a lifetime of steroids. I’m treating one kitty now, and he’s 20 years old.  He’s so arthritic he can hardly walk, but he’s so happy.  He’s bright and alert and he watches what’s going on.

I spend a lot of time with him and he is not ready to go.  We’re now talking about maybe we should do some steroids for his discomfort because he’s 20. We’re not going to ever see the long term side effects. We’re in a hospice situation and in that case anything goes.  And I don’t mind if you have a cat that’s in severe, severe discomfort and really stressed out, so itchy that they’re tearing themselves up, yes absolutely give them steroids, short course just to get them comfortable.

But you’ve got to work on the underlying cause. There’s another technique called hyposensitivization, works better in dogs of course.  But if you know what the allergens are you make them up in little injections and give a teeny tiny amount.  It’s very similar to the idea of homeopathy.  So homeopathy can be very helpful. Certainly if you have a cat with food allergies we’re getting them off the dry food, right, because that’s a big problem.

I remember reading a case that was fascinating. It was published in a journal by a vet that was scientifically oriented.  I was so excited. They had put a food allergic cat on a hypoallergenic dry food, with a famous medical prescription kind of food. And she did not respond to that food, it didn’t do her any good at all. So some brilliant person thought why don’t we try the canned version of that. Symptoms disappeared.

So dry food and canned food ingredients are very, very different and the dry foods, they don’t work for hardly anything in my opinion. They don’t work for urinary tract stuff, they don’t work for allergies, they don’t work for liver or any of that. The way to treat animals is to feed them what is healthy for them, not what some company has decided they can make a lot of money by marketing it.  Personal prejudice there.

Jenny: No. No. I understand. I just had a lady tell me yesterday that her cat’s in renal failure and she’s giving him prescription dry food, and I’m like oh, no. And it doesn’t matter what I say, like I would suggest you look into that because it’s going to take the kidneys longer to process that, the vet has convinced them that it’s the right thing to do.

Dr. Hofve: Well, the vet would be wrong. But, the vet would have been trained to say that. That’s how it is. Now I do have a pretty extensive article on kidney failure on and I discuss the whole protein thing.  Lisa Pierson, her new food charts, you can sort it by phosphorous content, so you can pick the lowest phosphorous commercial foods.  Kidney cats, no dry food. It’s horrible because it’s dehydrating to begin with. And dehydration is what kills these guys.

Jenny: Interesting. That makes me want to go check that out.  Cool. Ok, two things I’ve thought about while you were talking. Have you ever tried using aloe vera just as a topical remedy for relief or no?

Dr. Hofve: I do not use aloe vera because it contains latex and personally I’m allergic to latex, I can’t use aloe vera, and that’s a prejudice that I have.  If you put something topical on an itchy cat, they are going to scratch twice as much to get it off.  Especially something as water soluble like that, when it dries out it dries the skin and makes it even more itchy.  It’s really tough to treat these things topically unless it’s a really small focal area that you can get something on that the cat can’t get it off. But topical treatments, not very rewarding for food allergies. You’ve got to get to the food. That’s got to heal from the inside.

Jenny: I was just thinking more of immediate relief, like dry skin you put lotion on. My mom had a dog that had success with aloe vera but not because of food allergies. He has degenerative disc disease so he drags his heals a lot so they get sore and bloody but she puts socks on him so he can’t even lick off the aloe vera, but it really does help him. And we literally open up an aloe vera leaf and rub it on there and it’s like completely healed in a day. It’s amazing.

Dr. Hofve: That’s a whole different situation because that’s a physical abrasion, and what you want to do with a wound like that is to dry it out. So aloe would be good for that.  I avoid putting topical stuff on cats.  There are not very many places on their body that they can’t ingest. They can get it on their feet and ingest it. Cats are so sensitive to so many drugs, even topical stuff. One thing that can help, and I hesitate to recommend it for cats because I know that people like their fingers and their faces attached to them, but bathing them frequently.

If you’ve got an oozy kind of damp rashy thing, it can be very helpful, you can use something like Aveeno oatmeal bath, and that is moisturizing and that can help, but I don’t like to leave anything on the skin because then you’re just sealing bacteria in.  My mother was a great one for letting wounds air out, and I haven’t found very many things that my mother was wrong about.

Jenny: Yes. My mom was all about that too, especially at night time when you were going to bed, you’d take off your bandages.

Dr. Hofve: Exactly.  We healed up real good.

Jenny: Yes we did. Ok, so then the other thing that I was thinking of when you were talking was I know that you have had success before with the animal communicators. What about animal communicators helping with food allergies or food intolerances?

Dr. Hofve: You can try, but the cat won’t necessarily know what he’s allergic to.

Jenny: Ok.

Dr. Hofve: They don’t know what the ingredients are in the cat food. I do have a couple of supplements that are helpful. Probiotics have proven helpful in kits and there’s quite a bit of research on that.  Digestive enzymes are a must because if what we are dealing with is an allergy to a protein, if we can break that protein down into its component amino acids before it gets to the blood stream, then there’s nothing for the immune system to react to.

So I’m a big fan of digestive enzymes. You can try for diarrhea type situations slippery elm or marshmallow root can be helpful. You mix those with the food and they kind of coat the GI tract. Now there’s a school of thought about will it prevent nutrients from being absorbed.   And yes, it does to some extent. But you can also make a slurry with cold water, make it gooey and give it to the cat between meals, like an hour after eating, to coat the GI tract and soothe it after the food has passed through.

Antioxidants and omega three fatty acids are important because they’re anti-inflammatory.  And if you’re worried about the cat is having so much diarrhea that you’re worried about nutritional support, I like blue-green algae for that.

Jenny:  Ok.  Do you have, and I’d be happy to link to this in the interview when it’s on the site, but do you have a source of where you typically like to buy those ingredients or supplements?

Dr. Hofve: Yes, I do. I have links in my article on Food Allergies in Cats.

Jenny: Ok.

Dr. Hofve: And I’ll make sure that those are all up and running.

Jenny: Ok. Well then I will just link to the Food Allergies in Cats and everyone can access it there.

Dr. Hofve: Yes.  And there are links to links to links that explain all these things, what they’re good for and all that. I would also say while we’re changing diets and stuff, raw foods, raw diets are going to be one of the best things, especially for the kitties with skin issues.  Now if you have a cat with an inflamed digestive tract, that has a food allergy that’s manifesting in the GI tract, I would not go to raw first.

You can get raw food or home make the food, but cook the meat because when there’s inflammation, the cells are already compromised and bacteria can get into the system much easier. So you want to get the inflammation under control before we start putting in a lot of bacteria, because raw meat is all covered with bacteria.  All dry food is covered with bacteria too, so it’s tough. Sometimes I go to the store and I read the labels on every food and I walk out because nothing works.  It’s very frustration.

Jenny: It is beyond frustrating.

Dr. Hofve: But a homemade diet where you’re controlling the ingredients and you’re controlling the amount of heat  how long it’s cooked and you’re controlling every supplement that goes in, that you’re controlling for all the variables and you can make sure that it’s as pure as the driven snow and no pet food company is going to do that like you can do it.

Jenny: Right.  Yes.  If I can just get my cats to eat what I’ve made.

Dr. Hofve: Like we were talking earlier, the article on Switching Foods, every trick in the book.  I’ve had people write in and say I tried this and it worked and I add it to the list.  Lisa Pierson knew a couple of tricks I didn’t know, I added them to the list. It’s hard. Cats are hard. They’re stubborn.  If you’re getting a kitten or you’ve got a young cat, food preferences are developed in kitten hood. My cats all were given raw food, canned food, scrambled eggs, everything from the time they were young kittens so that they wouldn’t be fussy. And they really are very open to new things.

Like I said, they don’t ever get the same thing twice in a row and I’ve never had any kind of problem with allergies and I don’t expect to. If you get stung by a bee, the first time you get stung by a bee is usually not a problem. It’s the second time, after your immune system has been primed, it’s the second that you get these life threatening reactions. That’s how the immune system works.  There are a few things like poison oak that the very first time you come across it you are going to react.

But mostly, allergies develop to things that you have had or you have been exposed to that have been around your environment and for some reason, maybe due to vaccination hyping up the immune system, maybe due to some genetics, but it helps to know a little bit about the immune system so you can treat it good and try to avoid the types of situations where you’re going to be at higher risk for forming allergies.

Jenny: Yes.

Dr. Hofve: Easier said than done, I know.

Jenny: Yes. If you could wave your magic wand that would be awesome.

Dr. Hofve: Yes. There are a few things I’d take care of.

Jenny: Me too. Ok, so have you ever heard of NAET?

Dr. Hofve: N-A-E-T?

Jenny: Yes.

Dr. Hofve: Yes.  The woman’s name that the “N” stands for is an Indian name, but her first name is Debbie.  But it’s her allergy elimination technique. And there is a website, where you can find a practitioner.  And that is specifically for allergies and I have found it works really really well. It’s a fairly significant commitment in terms of time and energy and money, and there’s supplements involved.

It’s a little bit woo woo, but I’ve seen incredible results with it and I’d recommend one guy in particular in California who does this and he’s added some of his own little special twists to it.  His name is Dr. Bert Brooks, he’s in Woodland, California, and he will work long distance with you. He asks for a sample of hair and stuff so that he can analyze them. But it’s a really interesting technique.

I’ve had it done on me by several different practitioners and it has been very very helpful. I was allergic to wheat and corn and I’m not anymore which is really convenient because being allergic to both is really inconvenient because they’re in everything.  So yes, if you can find a practitioner or if Dr. Brooks can schedule you in, I sure do recommend that.  That’s a great system.

Jenny: Well good. We tried it on my mom’s dog because I actually did it in one of the many things I attempted to get rid of my thyroid disease, and so we gave it a shot.  I don’t know if it didn’t work because that’s not what he needed or what, but it kind of worked. But also I think as we’ve spoken about before, I’ve gone to an acupuncturist that hasn’t done anything, and then I’ve gone to one that really knows what they’re doing and done awesome, so that’s really cool that Dr. Brooks can do it from anywhere.

Dr. Hofve: Yes. I lived in Sacramento for a couple of years so I visited him a few times, and I remember standing in his clinic and he uses his wife Melissa as the surrogate so he can get that direct energetic connection, so he had the phone in his hand and he was connected to a guy in New York who was on the phone with a guy in Israel who had his hand on the dog.  It’s really interesting stuff. And it does sound very weird but there’s some actually good science behind it and it does derive from acupuncture which of course had several thousand years of science behind it.

Yes. Worth a try for these really rare cases.  Because I know sometimes nothing seems to work, even hypoallergenic diet, it’s not necessarily a cure all. And it’s very difficult to do. If you can use this, like I said it’s a very significant commitment. It’s not an easy thing to do.  If it’s a choice between doing that or taking your cat to the veterinary teaching hospital for every test known to man, I would choose A.

Jenny: Yes. Me too. Less invasive, less trips back and forth. So yes, absolutely.

Dr. Hofve: Yes. It’s less stressful for the animal. It’s really an interesting technique. I would like to hear back from your readers if they try it. It would be really interesting to get some stories.

Jenny: Yes. Well I’m pleased to hear that you know about it. I wasn’t aware of, so I’m going to include a link to that as well in the article.

Dr. Hofve: Good. Good, because it’s a fascinating technique. It really is.

Jenny: Ok, Well I think that covers what I could come up with. Is there anything more that you’d like to add?

Dr. Hofve: I think we’ve pretty much covered the basics and then some.

Jenny: Ok. Well thank you very much.

Dr. Hofve: You’re very welcome.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Tom Prabhu says:

    Thank you Jenny for this wonderful insight. There is a wonderful place in Dubai for all pet allergies – NAET Dubai

    Regards, Tom

  2. Rose Rowe says:

    This is a very fascinating interview, thank you for sharing this valuable information!

  3. Dementia Boy says:

    Thanks, gratitude and much appreciation to both Jenny and Dr. Jean.

    I live with a cat, Jolie, who is the feline equivalent of “the boy in the bubble.” Corn and yeast cause severe, immediate inflammatory reactions, evidenced by lab findings. I’m lucky in that I can draw blood and have a friend, a microbiologist, process it immediately. Because Jolie’s functional bladder is the size of a pea due to layers and layers of inflammatory tissue, I can’t draw her urine; this has to be drawn while guided by ultrasound, something my home lab is lacking.

    Other foods, or canned cat food ingredients, cause allergic reactions as well. In some cases, I can figure out the problem– certain carbs, for example. But, in most cases, the scary thing is I cannot look at the can and determine what the offending ingredient is. Brand “X” looks identical to Brand “Y,” although the ingredients may be in different order (weight).

    Since transitioning to primarily raw food, Jolie has had no vomiting or diarrhea. (Yes, she had two episodes when she swiped a tamale and, later, two corn chips from the counter–I must be more diligent.) Jolie also has environmental allergies, which I pretty much have under control with air purifiers and weekly wipe-downs. She’s allergic to sage–a real problem in my neck of the woods–Irish Spring soap, Febreeze, and most fragrances, which is why I’m leery of bringing any new cleaning products into the house. I air out dry cleaned items before I bring them inside.

    I try to rely on natural remedies but Jolie is still on a lot of medication. Luckily, she’s easy to medicate.

    1. are there any external things that happen that alert you to whether or not your cat is allergic to sage? what about burning it? i burn it in my home.

      1. Dementia Boy says:

        Sorry for the delayed response, Jenny.

        Jolie scratches and develops rhinotracheitis-like symptoms (watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing), as well as diarrhea, when sage is blooming. I *think* it’s the flowers (pollen) that cause the allergic reaction; otherwise, dried sage, being more potent than fresh, would cause an even more severe reaction. Unless da boyz exhibit these symptoms when you burn sage–I LOVE that smell!!–you’re OK.

  4. Awesome interview, Jenny! Thank you so much for all this great information and the links!

    I truly appreciate all the hard work you do to keep us up-to-date and informed on all of this schtuff! Truly!

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

  5. Just went through about 2 months of really stressful times with Illaria being sick with orange pasty diarrhea. All of the tests for parasites were negative and my vet said it was small bowel from the color.
    A long time ago when Illaria was new here, I had given her Fancy Feast Kitten and she got extremely ill because of something in the food and that was a totally different thing, BUT, since then, I had researched and studied and switched every one here over to Soulistic from Petco (chicken) and Tiki Cat, chicken. Both of these are supposed to be outstanding as far as not having bad things in them. The Tiki Cat is almost like human shredded chicken.
    All that said, my vet suggested that Illaria probably became intolerant to her food. It was so hard for me to believe, but she said that it happens and happens often for no apparent reason. So, I changed her over to Life Abundance and she immediately (like 3 days) got better and is now well. It was amazing to see the difference in her energy level and her sweet little bright eyes came back clear and full of wonder and happiness. My vet also said that in cases of food intolerance and the small bowel colitis, it is good to give them B12 SQ because the inflammation in the bowel prevents them from being able to absorb must of it. So, I started her on it twice a week and I finally have my baby back!!!! YEAH!!!! Now, I am sold on watching for the food intolerance to hit and know what to look for because it really came on gradually and I would not have known by her behavior if I didn’t spend most of every single day observing her.
    Thanks so much for all the good info about the allergies and will take it all in. In Illaria’s case, I tried probiotics, but they didn’t help at all, just the change in food was all that was necessary but she is still getting the B12 for a while anyway.

  6. This is great BUT I went through a long time with diarrhea and discovered my older kitten was allergic to chicken. So I have been feeding ONE food, Nature’s Variety Instinct Single Ingredient Turkey exclusively. I have had no issues with loose poops so I don’t dare introduce something else. Actually I did try and mix in just a little of another brand of turkey and back to looser poops. I put a very tiny bit in as I know to introduce it slowly. Now I am worried about them never getting any variety although they don’t care because they are little pigs.

    About fleas – are you against Advantage? I use that on the dogs and never ever had a flea. Haven’t used it on the kittens yet but will have to in May when I have to board them as it is required. Comments?

  7. thanks for this jenny, it’s awesome and very educational. saving it for my cat files.

  8. With regard to the topicals question in the article…

    Prossimo got a nasty case of Feline Acne last year when I gave him, unbeknownst to me at the time, inferior quality Omega 3.

    I tried so many different tactics to help clear it up but nothing worked and it persisted for months.

    Finally, I tried Calmoseptine ( and it was nothing short of a miracle. It was nearly gone after the 1st application. I used a 2nd application but it probably wasn’t necessary.

  9. Ragdoll Mommy says:

    My cat Star is allergic to corn and soy:-(

      1. Ragdoll Mommy says:

        I did not know that. Thanks!


      2. Dementia Boy says:

        Excellent point, Christy. Gel caps are notorious for containing this kwap. I want to get my cats off of liver–they hate it and so do I, but for different reasons–so I need to add extra Bs and D3. Good thing I looked at my D3 bottle because this is what it contains in addition to D3:

        Soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin, corn oil.

        Oh, good, let’s put Jolie into anaphylactic shock immediately. Still, I’m curious about the gelatin. I’ve often wondered why it hasn’t been used as a binder in cat food since it’s an animal product, but I always forget to Google it. Will the Demented One remember if she logs off right now??

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