Interview with Jean Hofve, DVM about Cat Allergies

Originally published Sep 23, 2011 Thank you to Jean Hofve, DVM of Denver, CO for taking the time to answer these questions.  If you have similar cat health questions or a cat health topic that you’d like to see covered on the site, please contact me at jenny [at] floppycats [dot] com with more ideas. You can learn more about cat health by reading Dr. Jean’s book, The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook. You can learn more from Jean’s website as well, Little Big Cat. We’ve now done several interviews with Dr. Jean, feel free to check any of them out:

What kinds of ingredients do you see most often causing allergies? In my experience, fish, dairy, and chicken; but according to veterinary research, the most common cat allergens are fish, beef, and dairy. What specific brands of foods do you recommend/not recommend? I try not to name names (in public!); that’s “giving a man a fish.” I teach shopping guidelines…that’s “teaching a man to fish” with skills that can be applied to any situation. For instance, here are the main things to avoid:

  • use of by-products as the primary animal protein
  • use of vegetable proteins (gluten or concentrate) as a substitute for animal protein
  • contains corn or soybean products (most is genetically modified)
  • contains menadione, a potentially harmful form of Vitamin K
  • contains ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, or other synthetic preservatives
  • one product labeled for both dogs and cats
  • contains less than 30% protein (on a dry matter basis)

What symptoms do we see in our cats that lead you to a diagnosis of food allergy? Gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea) or skin symptoms (rashes, itchiness) How do you determine which particular ingredient is causing the allergy? Because blood tests and skin tests are notoriously inaccurate in cats, I use an elimination diet trial. You feed a novel-ingredient diet exclusively (no cheating!) for 8-12 weeks or at least 2 weeks after all symptoms have resolved. Then you can start adding ingredients back in, one at a time. Do you recommend supplements even when feeding premium food? What kind? Yes. I recommend for all cats:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Digestive enzymes
  3. Probiotics
  4. Antioxidants

What do we do if our regular vet recommends a food that is not on your list? How can we convince our regular vet that the food you recommend is better? All your vet can do is give advice. You don’t have to follow that advice. It’s always your choice. Don’t waste your breath trying to convince a veterinarian who has been brain-washed by Science Diet ever since the first day of vet school. However, if your vet shows any signs of open-mindedness, show her the two articles (2000 and 2011) published in the Journal of the AVMA from Dr. Debra Zoran of Texas A&M. She makes a great case for cat-appropriate diets. Zoran DL. The carnivore connection to nutrition in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2002 Dec 1;221(11):1559-67. (Online at: Zoran DL, Buffington CA. Effects of nutrition choices and lifestyle changes on the well-being of cats, a carnivore that has moved indoors. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Sep 1;239(5):596-606. Do you recommend a holistic vet or a more conventional vet? If so, where would we go to find local holistic vets? Where could we find recommendations of good holistic vets? I recommend an integrative veterinarian—one who is willing to use both conventional and alternative remedies to create the best program for your pet. Excluding one or the other is throwing the baby out with the bathwater; both methods have their place. For instance, if a cat has a broken leg, just giving it herbs isn’t the best plan! There is a directory of holistic practitioners at What kind of tests do you do to determine food versus environmental allergies (this one might be a repetition of one above)? I prefer to say “inhalant” allergy or “atopy”–I think that’s what you mean here. “Environmental” sounds more like contact allergy; such as an allergy to the cedar shavings in a dog bed. Unfortunately, the symptoms of food and inhalant allergies are often identical; though inhalant symptoms are a little more likely to show up in skin than in the gut. I still use an elimination diet, because simplifying the diet will often help with inhalant allergies as well. As I mentioned, blood tests and skin tests are not very helpful in cats. Can you tell us a little about symptoms of environmental allergies we can look for? These will mostly be skin symptoms, but can also show up as tummy problems; the symptoms are usually indistinguishable from food allergy symptoms. Food allergies do have a vague tendency to show up around the face, ears, and feet more than other areas, but atopy can do the same. In dogs, most allergies are not to food but to inhaled particles such as dust and pollen. But cats have a higher rate of food allergy—perhaps up to 50%. A lot of new foods are completely grain-free. Some are wheat, corn, soy, etc.-free. Do you have a preference? Is grain-free preferable to say corn-free? Grains have gotten a bad rap for the wrong reasons. They are not all that allergenic, but that is why people think they should avoid them. But they are high in carbohydrates;, especially simple carbs that quickly turn to sugar. In cats, a high carb diet tends to cause obesity, diabetes, urinary tract disease, and many other health problems. I avoid corn in particular because it is very likely to be genetically modified. Problems with “grain-free” foods:

  1. They are not necessarily lower carbohydrate because most of them simply substitute potatoes or peas – high-starch vegetables that are just as problematic.
  2. Many of them are higher protein. Protein is diuretic, so cats will become even more dehydrated on these foods.
  3. They are also usually higher in fat; if fed free-choice (which I do not recommend) most cats will gain considerable weight.

We see a lot of wheat, corn, and soy-free foods using rice as the bulk. Do you think rice is a common allergen? Do cats receive any benefit from eating rice in their food? No, rice is relatively less allergenic than other grains. And no, no benefit; it is still a simple carb. What about limited-ingredient foods? Do you see them as a way to help cats with food allergies? If so, what kinds do you recommend? Yes; these are the foods I would use in an elimination trial. There are several veterinary diets but they are not very good quality. Several of the more “holistic” companies, such as Natural Balance, make decent “hypoallergenic” foods. We know cats are carnivores, so what do you think about the more recent influx of ingredients such as cranberries, pumpkin, carrots, etc. in the higher quality foods? Are these really beneficial in our cats’ diets? I think it’s a very bad idea. The conditions for which these items would be used (constipation, urinary tract problems) can be completely resolved simply by feeding all wet food. Adding more carbs to a dry diet is like adding potato chips to corn chips; it’s all still junk! Do you recommend dry food, wet food, raw, or a combination? If a combination, what percentage? Wet—any high-moisture diet, whether canned, raw, or reconstituted freeze-dried. Cats need the moisture. Dry food is not an appropriate diet for cats; it has no benefit for the cat. Use it as a treat only. Can you tell us about high-protein versus high-carbohydrate diets for our cats? Can you tell us which one is preferable? High-carbohydrate diets are not appropriate for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, designed to eat a diet based on meat. Adult cats have zero physiological need for carbohydrates. A high-protein, high-fat, high-moisture diet is best for cats. What protein sources do you recommend? Any animal protein except fish. My articles on pet allergies: A Brief Introduction to Allergies Inhalant Allergies Overview of Allergies Why Cats Need Canned Food. How to Select a Good Commercial Pet Food: Does Dry Food Clean the Teeth? Pet Food Marketing Hype Why Fish is Dangerous for Cats Lots more on nutrition on my website,

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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. Enjoyed this interview and all the comments and questions.

  2. Patti Johnson says:

    Thanks for reposting this info again, Jenny. This info is always helpful!

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbear 🙂 <3

  3. Greetings Dr. Hofve and happiest of holidays!

    Thank you for the info you have provided and for all you do.

    I just have one final question, if possible. I’m going to take your advice and not put our 3 year old Mikey through a painful skin graft for that nickel sized bald spot on his neck (which, when unprotected with a bib/bandana, he wants to groom and bloody’s up and reinfects within minutes, not due to allergies now since the food has been corrected, just normal grooming behavior). He apparently destroyed the hair follicles in this area when the allergy went untreated and was unknown.

    Is there anything (supplement or medication) that would make the fur grow back in that area or will he be resigned to wearing a bib/bandana for the remainder of his life? I considered an anti-lick (behavior modification product called Fooey), however, I tasted it myself and it’s horrid and lasts at least 3 hours, I don’t want to do that to him.

    Any suggestions? Thank you so very much, I’m at a loss.

  4. You are correct. Lamb allergy is rare (except in cats that have been on lamb-based food for at least a few months), but any cat can develop an allergy to anything at any time. Once a cat has one allergy, it is very likely to develop more. That’s why feeding a variety of foods is so important, as is staying away from dry food.

    1. Thank you. I’ve found a few sites, and others indicating that lamb is up there with beef and chicken as far as protein allergies. I don’t feed dry food. Thank you for the reply.

      1. Protein is protein no matter what the source…This is why I believe finding the ROOT cause of the allergy is so important. I believe all disease begins in the gut. So boost your cats immune system and try Protease (enzyme to digest protein). For immune boosters you could try the colostrum products and/or Standard Process Pet formulas called Feline Enteric Support and Feline Immune Support. They are great products for animals. Sometimes a vet will carry these if they are into alternative medicine. A chiropractors office is where I get mine. And of course you can get them on Amazon in which they are sold by Chiropractors or other doctors/vets.

        I myself cannot digest animal proteins. I stopped eating meat long ago. When I ate meat I would get body aches about an hour later. So I did a lot of research into this. I believe my issue is leaky gut and that toxins from undigested proteins are being released from my small intestines. I get auto immune symptoms if I do not take digestive enzymes to clean up the blood stream after eating. so one of the best and most important enzyme supplements that I took and that takes away all my autoimmune symptoms almost immediately is an enzyme combo called ViroStop. It’s amazing and may help your cats autoimmune response to whatever could be the cause (which sounds like proteins). I have called the company numerous times to make sure it’s okay for cats and it is. digestive enzymes cannot hurt. The company is called Enzymedica they only sell digestive enzymes so they do extensive research in creating their products. You can call them and ask them anything you’d like. The ViroStop works by going in and cleaning up the blood of all toxins and impurities that would be causing the immune response and because of this you want to give it on an empty stomach or it will digest the food instead of the toxins in the blood stream. I have given this to my cat before and she was perfectly fine. The enzymes eat virus, bacteria and other impurities that shouldn’t be there..

        Please call the company Enzymedica and mention your cats symptoms and ask about the ViroStop.

        1. This is all fantastic info, thank you. It sounds like you are referring to leaky gut syndrome, which I’ve read about re: allergies. Also, someone had advised me to try colostrum with my 3 year old male cat who also has feline herpes. He’s the runt of the litter, his sister displays no symptoms of herpes; with Mikey it affects his eyes (lysine to control flareups). I realize digestive enzymes cannot hurt, I used one for my cats for about six months, I need to resume. Plus try colostrum. The cats were rescues from the ASPCA from a hoarding house so they didn’t get off to a good start. We adopted them at 2.5 months. Thank you Dom for taking the time to respond with this info, much appreciated.

          1. Your most welcome:)

            One other thing that I did for my cats was to switch/stay away from corn based and wheat based litters as they are hyperallergens and also can cause immune responses. I now use the Dr. Elsey’s Ultra and my cat is doing much better with this litter. Just in case you use the corn or wheat I thought I’d mention this as it can also cause issues with skin allergies as well as respiratory moreso than the clays.

        2. Ah, I just read more carefully your post – you are referring to leaky gut. ZiwiPeak has a great article on leaky gut syndrome and allergies in pets.

          1. Oh yes, I was referring to that.. I meant to say in my last post that Ironically I believe my leaky gut issues started when my beloved ‘soulmate’ my cat died 9 years ago. When he died I didn’t eat for days and noticed that I went from being a lifetime-constipated person to a ‘loose” person if you know what I I thought it was a blessing actually to be loose rather than constipated so I went with it for years and years and did nothing to figure out why it was loose. Well the ‘stress’ from my losing my cat lead to the leaky gut and other auto immune issues I obtained. Of course the probiotics really help repair the most but at the same time the enzymes will kill the toxins being leaked into the bloodstream while the gut is repairing. I think once there are leaks in the gut a vicious circle will occur and it’s very hard to repair because the toxins are circulating and causing harm all over the body including the intestines that are trying to repair themselves. I give myself and my cats Garden of Life’s Primal Defense, its an HSO (soil based probiotic). I have found it to be far superior to any other probitoics out there, I tried most of them. My cat will eat these like a treat. I will also occasionally buy the Bio K and my cat will lick this up because it’s fermented dairy similar to kefir. I usually will give her a teaspoon a day off and on for a day or two. A lot of the probiotics need/should be given on empty stomachs which is why I don’t believe the probiotics in cat food are any good. There are some probiotics that can work with foods but it is hard for companies to create these more so than not. I have a suspicion that they aren’t taking enough care to make sure they are using the type of probiotics that can be digested with food that will not die with stomach acid. And since cats stomach are highly acidic for meat digestion I believe also that this will kill most probiotics before they hit the intestines..just my theory I haven’t read this anywhere except in regards to humans. Most probiotics must be taken on empty stomachs. The one that says that it doesn’t matter is Bio K but when I take that I still take it on an empty stomach and get much better results. . .

    1. Dr. Hofve, how common is lamb meat as an allergen to cats? As I mentioned previously, I’ve been feeding my cats mostly venison (ZiwiPeak – no veggies, just meat and organs). I introduced lamb, initially everything seemed ok but now my female cat is itching like crazy and has a bald spot now on her neck.

      Our vet said to feed “just venison” but if I feed a single protein long-term, will the cats at some point become allergic to venison? Shouldn’t I feed at least two proteins?

      Thank you.

      1. Whenever anyone is allergic to a food it’s because they do not have the enzyme to digest whatever is causing the immune reaction. in the case of lactose and or gluten it’s causing a reaction because the body is lacking the enzyme to digest it properly.

        In your cats case he/she “seems” to keep getting an adverse reaction to protein since that is the main ingredient. If there are other ingredients find out what enzyme digests those food items or just feed an enzyme the covers everything But I would find a high quality Protease digestive enzyme made for humans. Pet forumlas are not using high quality enzymes because it isn’t really their business. Their business is the high quality meats. FYI, the pet food companies say they put digestive enzymes in their food and/or probiotics doesn’t mean they are very high quality, ‘enough’ or are ‘alive’. Enzymes and probiotics are very sensitive and can die off or become inactive or useless very very easily. It’s hard enough for vitamin companies to get their probiotics and enzymes in capsules to last for as long as they do. So how is it that enzymes and probiotics in cat food can last sitting in a bag or can like it does? They don’t….

        1. Thanks, I was giving a pet probiotic previously but stopped. Thanks for the info.

  5. Thank you for your reply Dr. Hofve. Actually, I noticed that NB’s LID formulas, e.g., venison uses “pea flour” not pea protein. Wouldn’t this make it starchy? I’ve been feeding Addiction’s venison & apples (hard to find and I always have to pick out the potatoes and peas in this food but more palatable to cats than NB) and yet when I feed NB I notice the cats itch more. I’m wondering if it’s the pea flour.

    Also, should I limit proteins that the cats aren’t allergic to to two proteins vs one so they won’t become allergic to the protein I feed constantly?

    You also mention that allergy blood testing isn’t reliable, however, I’m at the end of my rope trying to figure out what is causing my male cat to itch around his neck area; he now has a permanent bald spot on his neck and must wear a bandana until we can afford to get a skin graft. The cats are definitely allergic to chicken, turkey and fish but possibly duck as well. Thank you.

    1. Don’t know if this will help but could it be some kind of stress.. With my cat.. for years he had this hot spot on the back of his neck more near his shoulder blades.. for about 2 1/2 years I’d say. I did everything I could. Finally just kept a cone or a jacket on him so he wouldn’t lick it. Then I moved out of my bad relationship house. Then it went away. I argued a lot with my ex boyfriend so I wonder if possibly my cat was stressed because of this. It was either the move that cured him or me. After I moved out I had time to practice energy work. I did it for only about 10 minutes and it cleared up. So I really can’t say for sure if the energy worked cured him or the relief of the stress. I always thought it was my energy work but now I think it was the relief of the stressful environment. Stressful environments could be in any form not a bad relationship.. could be too many dominant cats in the house or maybe even a stray that comes around at night. I know my very good cat that I have now gets a little stressed when the neighbors cats come into his back patio at night. I will see little pee stains on my door on the outside from the stray and on the inside from my cat.. geezz.. these cats..and their

      1. Oh wow, that sounds so similar to what we are dealing with – Mikey still has that bald spot. When I remove the bandana, he licks (wants to groom the area) and in two minutes it’s a bloody mess, cats having abrasive tongues like sandpaper on bare skin … there is a reason for fur! (And I wonder how Sphynx cats manage grooming – must have been bred with tough skin!) I’ve read stress can cause excessive grooming (and both cats are half Abyssinian, prone to over grooming), however as far as stress … we have a huge place, the best food they could eat, lots of areas for them to have “time-outs”, no arguing here, peaceful – what stress?! Lol…but both brother and sister are very competitive with each other and I’ve read that when there are dominance issues, there doesn’t have to be an actual threat of resources, but rather, the “perception” of a threat of resources. Also, Abys don’t like to be left alone, if we are gone more than 6 hours in a day, that seems to stress the cats. They’ve done great on ZP only, however, I recently gave one of the cats some duck grain free treats by Nat’l Balance and she has now itched a bald spot on her neck after one week of these treats. Both cats will occasionally bite each other on the neck (dominance) in aggressive play which I’ve tried to discourage. Anyway, thanks Rhonda for the feedback, very interesting!

        1. Ah yes, stress is definitely in the eye of the beholder…if cats even *think* they’re stressed, then they ARE stressed!

          Play therapy would be ideal for your kids! See:

          Also, you might want to consider flower essences, which are great for stress reduction. Peacemaker, Stress Stopper, and Skin Soother are possibilities, although Vaccine Detox could be helpful as well. Check out all the cat essences here:

          1. Thank you Dr. Hofve, I exercise the cats every night for at least one hour, have been doing this since they were kitties. I’ll look into the essences you suggested. Thank you.

        2. I hope you can figure it out. I remember how bad I felt for my cat.. Back then I didn’t know about homeopathic remedies.. If I did I would have tried the Colloidal silver for pets it is a nice soothing gel. Have you ever tried it. The brand is Sovereign Silver and they make one especially for pets and hot spots are a listed reason for it’s use. Once the wound is more of a scab Apple Cider Vinegar helps me and my eczema spots for the itch. So maybe that will stop him from making it a wound again because it really helps with itch.

          1. Thanks Rhonda, but I would not use colloidal silver for my pets (or myself):

            I’ve used a combination of Epsom salts and a little sea salt on his wound. I think the scabbing process also makes him itch – scabs are itchy but it’s a viscous cycle. I doubt it’s the food as ZP is among the best. Could be environmental also.

          2. Oh okay I was just recommending it. I think Dr. Weill is a little overly cautious with things he isn’t that familar with. The colloidal has only been know to do harm in mega high doses in people who make it at home in which they then drink gallons of it.. It just isn’t true in the case of a few drops. Hospitals use it all the time for burns. I only recommended the topical for the cat. But I use this instead of antibiotics and it works like a charm. My old cat who was 20 years old had a broken fang and it got an abcess and she had a swollen left face. I used the colloidal silver and the next morning there was no more infection. She also got bladder infections all the time and it worked overnight for that as well. I’ll tell you it is so much safer than the antibiotics (and healthier) than those prescribed by vets.. I myself have used it for years with only positive results.. But I understand your concerns and beliefs and totally respect them.. There are many other things you can try like the flower essences..which I myself never had any results with but you never know, every cat is different..:) I just wanted to state this because it really does work and help a lot of pets and people.

          3. Thank you Rhonda, that’s interesting re: your 20 year old cat and the CS, thanks!

        3. Hi Lisa, this is one more thought I had.. Did you mention or do you know of a vet that practices herbal/chinese medicine? I take an herb called Schisandra and wonder if we can give it to cats.. It would be good to find out. This herb calms my anxiety at night and it also calms my dermatitis and stops it completely from itching. Kitties hot spot may or may not be from stress of course, but it would be good to rule it out so you can move on.. I know this herb schisandra does amazing things for people.. if you can find a vet that is herbal maybe she can tell you if you can give it to cats or come up with a herbal remedy that is similar to the way schisandra works. .it’s so amazing to because it gives you energy during the day at the same time you feel peace and calm..I love it….

    2. Since we did this interview a little more info has come to light. Some of the OTC “hypoallergenic” diets were tested and found to have undeclared–and potentially allergenic–proteins mixed in. So that may be at least part of the issue if cats react to Natural Balance and similar foods. The “prescription” foods fared better and tested clean of allergens–but the ingredients are so awful I can’t recommend them!

      Most food allergies involve dry food, so whatever brand you try, definitely get your kitty onto an all-wet diet. Canned foods are cooked at lower temperatures and are less likely to contain both the impure ingredients and denatured proteins. Homemade or raw may be the way to go, at least until he heals up.

      Skin graft? Wow! Your vet is certainly ambitious! 🙂

      1. Hi Jean, do you have a raw food recipe I could try in addition to my current food? Or do you recommend any specific brand of raw?


      2. How interesting re: otc limited ingredient diets. I would question why though the Rx diets tested “clean” of allergens when those same diets are similar in limited ingredients as NB. And I would not trust those Rx diets either (and unfortunately given the recent merger of NB with DM …. no comment).

        I stopped feeding dry food back in the spring and the cats are doing much better, but the bald spot on his neck remained bald with no fur regrowth. The cats eat ZiwiPeak and occasionally Primal rabbit raw.

        Thank you for the feedback and wonderful info you provide to all Dr. Hofve.

        Yes, the vet recommended a dermatologist who could do a skin graft, can’t afford it now though. Before a skin graft is done, I will take him to another vet that does blood testing for environmental and food allergies lest I end up paying for a skin graft and he scratches it bald again (which has happened when removing his bandana).

        1. Don’t waste your money on the allergy blood test. It is unreliable in dogs, and *completely* worthless in cats.

          If the itching resolves, then the bald spot would be a cosmetic issue and, IMO, certainly not worth the surgical risks and serious pain that a skin graft would entail. Actually, what we used to in severe cases (large areas of gnarly thickened skin) was simply excise the whole area. There is so much extra skin in the neck area that they don’t miss it!

          1. But the problem though isn’t that the bald spot is unappealing (cosmetic — it’s only the size of a dime), but rather, when I take his bandana off, he wants to groom that area, licks it and bloodies it up with his tongue in a few minutes. I then have to clean it, use antibiotic cream, etc., and reapply the bandana. I kept the bandana off for two days to see what would happen. He almost scratched another bald spot and made the existing one larger. He hates wearing that bandana, (most cats don’t want anything on or around them, I’m guessing. We’ve tried everything –behavioral modification with anti-lick creams, anti-lick bandaids, Zymox medicated skin creams, I’m at the end of my rope trying to figure out what’s going on. No veggies / grains in his canned diet, just venison, lamb – hormone, antibiotic free. I’ll ask our vet re: excising the skin but still – in the end, there would be unprotected skin and if he wants to groom …. Thank you though, I appreciate the feedback.

          2. When left unprotected also, the area gets infected (from his licking). In the past we had to take him for steroid shots and a long term antibiotic, it got so bad. But I don’t want to do that to him any more – give steroids or keep him on antibiotics. Plus he has feline herpes, under control with his diet and a daily dose of lysine, but I can’t risk weakening his immune system any further.

        2. Hi Lisa, have you tried the Rescue Remedy yet? It can help relieve any stress. I hear it works on a lot of cats but I never had any experience with it. I’m stuck on the idea that your kittys hot spot is due to stress and not food. And in my experience, cutting out the hot spot is a bad idea. He most likely will lick at that spot just the same. It’s systemic, it’s coming from within. Not just on the surface of the skin or just under. I know from my own human personal experience that stress induces adrenaline which aggravates my sebboric dermatitis behind my ears. I get hypoglycemic at night sometimes, which creates stress and adrenaline in me and I wake up totally itchy moreso behind my ears. I guess I’m stuck on this idea because my cat had exactly the same size and in the same place as your cat and I’m positive it was the stress because the spot never came back again after I moved.

          Good luck and I’ll pray you can come up with something to relieve him.
          Here is a link that may help with stress reduction:



          1. Rescue Remedy is fabulous, but it is not suitable for chronic stress. It’s more for sudden or acute stress–injury, trip to the vet, thunderstorm, etc. However, it’s a good thing to always have on hand!

          2. Thank you Rhonda, I’ve heard good things about RR. I’ve also wondered if it’s a cycle of, e.g., the cat wants to groom that area, when he grooms / licks, the healed bald spot becomes reinfected with his tongue, it gets cleaned but then scabs – scabs are itchy. His vet said it was “idiopathic ulcerative dermatitis”. He also suggested, although this may not likely be the cause, of having his microchip removed to eliminate the possibility that maybe the microchip was causing a problem. When the cats were adopted at 2.5 months, both had been microchipped by the ASPCA. Molly, (his sister), started going at her neck after the microchip area had healed. (I asked when she was adopted why she had this wound in her neck and the volunteer indicated it was an irritation from the chip.) Mikey’s current hot spot resulted, initially, one year ago when his sister bit him on the neck. That was the genesis of that hot spot that was treated numerous times, healed and then become reinfected. If only there was something to make the fur grow back in that area. If skin grafts are painful, I don’t want to put the cat through that but I don’t want him to have to wear a bib/bandana the rest of life either.

          3. Yes, it could be that too I’m sure.. I had a friend whose dog had his tail broken when he got hit by a car.. it was amputated and never the same. He chewed it raw every day for years. So could be nerves that are unhealed..

            I just bought Chewy & Stellas Freeze dried raw.. I like it a lot because you mix it with water so you don’t have to freeze it and refreeze it. There is nothing but good stuff for cats. no senseless veges and fruits,, just the meats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and pumpkin seeds for fiber.. I’m really happy to have found this one. I’ll use it in combo with Epigen 90 and the Aujus wet until those are gone then I’ll probably use the Stella and Chewy by itself.. I feel good about this product and happy I kept hunting for a good product..

          4. Great re: Stella & Chewy’s. I tried it with my cats, they loved it but the company only makes fowl and fish and my cats are allergic. Primal is good also (their dehydrated). My one cat eats the frozen nuggets. Primal indicated they are coming out with a “novel” protein (either venison or rabbit) freeze dried for cats in 2014 which I’ll wait for b/c my female cat won’t eat any raw other than freeze dried / dehydrated.

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  7. “I’m confused — pea protein and potato protein are high in starch (and widely used in grain free canned foods) and yet the LID commercial food recommended is Natural Balance, which uses pea protein and fiber in their grain free e.g., venison, etc. canned foods.”

    Whole peas and whole potatoes are high in starch. “Pea protein” and “potato protein” are not; they have been processed to concentrate the protein and remove the starch. They are similar to corn gluten meal, rice protein concentrate, and wheat gluten, which are all high-protein concentrates.

    “Also, cats need “high protein”, however, how much is too much as Dr. Hofve states grain free foods are “higher protein”, hence a diuretic and potentially causing dehydration. Thanks”

    Protein provided in its natural form, as meat, also comes with a great deal of moisture. Canned food contains about 78% water; a prey animal contains 65-70% water. The cat’s body is designed to handle that. Feline kidneys are extremely efficient and are able to retain most of that water. Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrate. Nor do they have an upper limit on protein, although in practical terms protein is balanced with fat. Fortunately, nature provided cats’ natural prey with perfect nutrition: a rat is about 55% protein and 40% fat.

    Grain-free dry foods tend to be higher in protein than regular dry foods (which are already dehydrating), and are therefore more dehydrating.

  8. I’m confused — pea protein and potato protein are high in starch (and widely used in grain free canned foods) and yet the LID commercial food recommended is Natural Balance, which uses pea protein and fiber in their grain free e.g., venison, etc. canned foods.

    Also, cats need “high protein”, however, how much is too much as Dr. Hofve states grain free foods are “higher protein”, hence a diuretic and potentially causing dehydration. Thanks

    1. try wysong’s Epigen.. I just bought it. I had my cat on Halo grain free until I heard about starch being almost as bad or worse than grains.. so Epigen is high protein, grain free, gluten free and starch free. check it out. I also bought the Au Jus wet food on their website. I don’t work there so don’t worry. I have a cat with allergies that are in her nasal area.. she has mucus for 8 years now and I can’t figure it out. Don’t know if it’s environmental or food. This is my last resort. Had her on raw and all chicken nothing worked.. Also she’s over weight and I barely give her anything. This new food is suppose to help them loose weight you can read the reviews on Amazon under Epigen 90.. It’s expensive but I think it will be worth it.

      1. Thank you Rhonda, however, I have had the cats now on ZiwiPeak venison and also the lamb recipes, since August. Excellent food, very low carb/starch, **no** veggies, just meat and organs (hormone and antibiotic free), bpa free cans and extremely low carb. The food does include carrageenan, however, per ZP’s VP Kimberly, the carrageenan will be removed sometime in the new year, hence kitties with IBD who should avoid carrageenan will now have this food as an option. I wouldn’t switch from ZP, other than to add some Primal raw, for the world – we love this food and the cats are doing great. {I don’t work for this company, I actually work for a competitor company, however, I work for ZP in a nanosecond – heck, I’d eat the food myself were I not a vegetarian}! 🙂

        1. Sounds like wonderful food. I may try it also. Where do you buy it?


          1. Well, I guess it depends on where you live. I’m in NYC and can find it in my neighborhood pet food store. The chain stores don’t carry ZP, only indy stores. Or try online. Best price I found online came from K9 Cuisine, they’ll give you discounts if you order from them – point system = discounts. The food may seem expensive, however, since it’s so nutrient dense (and just meat and organs), it takes less of this food than e.g., other grain free (starchy) foods for the cats to feel sated.

          2. P.S. Rhonda, check out their website if you get a chance, very informative, especially if you go to the section re: vets and also their blog – they post very informative articles; I always learn something new. There is one article in particular about allergies, I learned more about pet allergies from that one article than I have from all the sites I’ve bookmarked over the past year.

      2. Venison and rabbit are leaner meats than chicken. That may help with the weight issue.

        1. Great!! Thanks so much:)

  9. This is a very beneficial article. I respect her educated, common-sense approach to feline nutrition. I am thoroughly convinced as to the benefits of wet food– unfortunately, my cats are not! How to get them to eat wet food?! it is a daily struggle for me. They do eat some wet, but enjoy their dry food so very much more…I have not been able to take it away from them. I will strive for the 50% balance at the very least and I may have to make them go hungry to get them to eat the healthier food. I know many others have this problem as well.

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