Friday, February 13, 2015

Grain-Free Food for Cat With Asthma - An Experiment

This topic is a little bit off the norm for me. Usually, I am posting about Stitch Fix boxes or my writing. Today, however, after doing my own research, I thought it would be helpful for people out there to follow my experiment.

Arrow being most adorable
I have a cat. She is about 7 years old. Her name is Arrow, and she is what can only be described as a 'wild abyssinian.' She's a bit stripey and a bit spotty and has ticking on her fur that is reminiscent of this sort of cat.

About 5 years ago she was diagnosed with feline asthma. I was shocked. She'd been a perfectly healthy cat for the 2 1/2 years we'd had her. Never a problem. At first, I thought she had a hairball. Eventually, when the coughing wouldn't go away, I took her to the vet and found out she was asthmatic!

Then I found out about only 1% of cats have feline asthma. Lucky me.

So fast forward 5 years. I have the routine down to a science. I have two types of pills I give her twice a day, every day. This seems to keep her asthmatic episodes down to a reasonable level. However, there are times when she gets worse, and I have to take her into the vet for oxygen treatments (very scary!) and a shot of something (excuse my ignorance, but I truly don't know what the shot is). The shot typically gives her about 4 to 6 weeks of relief before I have to start up the pills again.

My brilliant 17-year-old daughter came home with an idea a couple of days ago. Someone at work (she bags groceries at a local food store) mentioned that she put her cat on a grain-free diet recently to combat allergy problems. My daughter thought maybe this change in diet could benefit our cat.

Oddly enough, we have a dog with allergy issues (skin problems and itchiness) that have been greatly improved with a switch to a high Omega 3/Omega 6 dog food (Blue Buffalo Salmon & Sweet Potato, if you're curious). So I thought her idea had merit.



Yesterday, I bought a bag of Blue Freedom Grain-Free Chicken flavor cat food for my cat (also a Blue Buffalo product). I am hoping this gives her some relief from her symptoms. According to some sites on the internet, cats can have allergic reactions to the grains in their diet. Corn by-products being the main culprit.

My plan is to keep her on this food for 12 weeks and keep tabs on her condition. Even taking her daily meds, she will have asthma attacks...so it should be pretty obvious if there is a change. I will keep this blog post updated from time to time with any notes I might have about her progress. My goal is to help others with their asthmatic cats.

There are a lot of kooky websites out there that I have a hard time trusting when it comes to 'advice' about pets and health. And most of the 'trusted' sites with actual veterinary input don't cover this topic very thoroughly. My own vet never suggested trying this type of diet to see if it helps, so clearly the jury is still out for the professionals in this field until more concrete evidence is given.

Considering such a small percentage of cats have asthma, I don't see a rush to figure out the causes or to test diets. This will be my own addition to the knowledgebase on this topic!

Please check back for updates, which will be posted below. Thanks!

UPDATE - FEB. 17, 2015 - My cat has now been on this food only 5 days. She does not like it very much. So, the good news is that she is slimming down...which she really needed. The steroid medication she's been on has made her eat like a pig!  I am determined to keep feeding her this same food, as a cat (like any animal) will not starve itself.

I did find a coupon over the weekend for a new grain-free cat food from Purina. That was the brand I'd previously been feeding my cat, so I might try that out once the Blue Buffalo bag runs out. I've heard that cats will get stuck on a certain shape to their food. So thinking my cat might like to eat the Purina shape over the Blue Buffalo shape.

I also have not seen the need to give my cat her asthma pills. She doesn't seem to be wheezing hardly at all. Not certain what the cause is for that; reluctant to peg any improvement on food so early.

UPDATE - MARCH 9, 2015 - We are now 3+ weeks down the road with the new food. I have noticed my cat's coat has improved considerably. She used to be very dandruff-y and had a 'dry' feeling to her fur. Now she has softness that was not there before and no dandruff. Also, she has lost weight. I am not sure if that was merely due to the fact that she was stubborn the first week (she protested the new food and hardly ate anything) or if she is eating less because of the food quality or something else. I have not had to give her the two-times-daily doses of her medication. Although I have heard her have a few asthma attacks and have medicated her about once a day just to ensure she stays out of trouble. She also is more alert and energetic...not sure if that is from the weight loss, asthma improvements or the switch to grain-free food. I am encouraged by these positive changes in her. My goal is to continue on this food for 6 weeks and reassess her condition. Even if her asthma does not improve, the other positive changes to her condition and behavior means I will continue the grain-free food anyway.

UPDATE - APRIL 15, 2015 - We are now more than 2 months into this experiment. My cat's fur is still softer and without dandruff. So that parts seems to be food-related. Her asthma situation in the last couple of weeks has slipped back to what I usually am dealing with...medication twice a day. However, she did go for a long time on a once-a-day routine after I switched her food. It is spring, so her allergies are at their worst right now. Since I was unable to get rid of her asthma entirely with the food switch, my goal now is to see if I can keep her from visiting the vet. Even with her daily medication dose, my cat would end up at the vet needing more invasive treatment about 4 to 6 times per year. I will post here whenever I need to take my cat to the vet for asthma related problems! In a year's time, I should have a better understanding of how much the food switch is helping.

1 comment:

  1. Step #1 for cats with athsma is to eliminate all dry food permanently, and yes, that includes grain free. Only use grain free wet cat food. There is a massive amount of testimonials online as to the effectiveness of this strategy. All the best!

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