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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29741
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 4 yr old male cat was 25 lbs 10 months ago, has lost 10

Customer Question

My 4 yr old male cat was 25 lbs 10 months ago, has lost 10 lbs, is coughing, and rubbing the fur off his ears. He eats & drunks well (wet & dry food) and is still very active.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
Can you tell me, please, if the 10 lb weight loss resulted from your restricting his diet and was desired? Chronically coughing cats are usually asthmatic; acutely coughing cats are usually infected with either the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) or the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. Rubbing the ears to the point of hair loss suggests primary ear disorders (mite, bacterial or yeast infection), atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.) or food intolerance.
Please respond with additional information and further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Although he was a big cat, and have a multi cat household, I didn't restrict Oscar's diet. When we moved to Washington from Miami, I found an organic pet store called Mud Bay. I had switched to high quality brands. He was a sickly stray I took in and nursed back health. He was originally diagnosed with a liver parasite from eating liz are rds The previous alpha male died, so I thought they were eating competively. However, Oscar continues to slim down. He seems to prefer crunchies and drinks lots of water.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He is mainly an indoor cat now, but had pneumonia when I took him in.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. The weight loss is extreme enough to consider both diabetes mellitus (also suggested by his drinking a lot of water) and hyperthyroidism (less common at 4 years of age). It would be prudent to have his vet perform diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests as well as chest X-rays to see if changes in his lungfields suggestive of asthma are present - over-inflated lungs, inflammation in the airways, and/or patchy densities in the lung parenchyma.
Atopy might be addressed with corticosteroids such as prednisone but such a drug mustn't be prescribed until diabetes is ruled out. Food intolerance/allergy is addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that Oscar's immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from his vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (a hydrolyzed protein diet is my preference). A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.
Please continue our conversation if you wish.