My cat Tessa, her severe allergies and Atopica

My cat Tessa, her severe allergies and Atopica

This is a very personal post in hopes that telling my story may save a few lives and no one has to go through what I recently did. It hurts to write this, but I know that another day means another beloved pet may suffer and I don’t want anyone to experience what I have. My heart is broken. This is my story of Tessa and her allergies and what happened with Atopica.

Love at first sight…

A little history first. It was 8 years ago and I had recently lost my cat, Monster. It was dead of winter in Michigan when my father called me to say a very nice cat had wondered onto the farm and I should take her. “She looks like a cheetah”, was my only description. “She talks a lot”, he explained, watching her walk up the long driveway and into his live trap. No food, just curiosity took her there. That action actually saved her life.

I said I would get back to him and after 20 minutes, I knew that she needed a home and had literally walked into my life just when I had the home for her. It was one of those things where you say yes and don’t overthink it. I flew to Michigan and in 2 seconds I knew she was mine and she knew I was hers. I named her Tessa. It took us 16 hours of travel time through Chicago to get home that February and she took it like a champ, in a First Class upgrade.

The next couple of years with her were delightful. She was so unique. I could look at her and she’d do this head bob move and make a hmm type noise. I’d sit on the sofa and in minutes she’d find my lap from wherever she may have been. Gone for 5 minutes or 15 days, she would be waiting at the door for me with her charming meow. She was my little buddy and while I could go on about her for days, suffice it to say, there was nothing I would not do for her. Ever.

At around the age of 3 she developed allergies.

There was no way of knowing her history for those first 4ish months. She was missing an ear tip from frost bite and half her tail for a reason I’m probably glad I don’t know. But every day she woke with the attitude of “carpe diem”. Every, single day. But this tough start was not to be the end of the road. After pulling out a bit of belly fur we went to the vet because this was something certainly new to me.

Fat, furry belly…

This began years of trial and error with recommended options. Food, fleas, allergy tests, food tests, allergy shots, different food…it was a never ending game of what next. The poor girl was sometimes in a cone for months because she could create a sore on her naked belly, fore arms and inner thighs in seconds and they could take forever to heal. It was awful and that girl was a contortionist with that cone. She would always figure out a way just to get the spot she wanted so alas, always a bigger and bigger cone.

This went on for years. I felt so bad for her. I knew the allergies bothered her, but she didn’t seem consumed with them and just went about her day as usual. On occasion, I’d see more hair pulled out. The 1.5 years of allergy shots every 2 weeks did absolutely nothing. She was amazing and from day one knew I was there to help her and just let me do what I had to do.

It was in July 2015 that I went to a specialist in dermatology to see what else could possibly be done for Tessa. I didn’t want her in a cone every day of her life. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. We spoke of options and basically they were down to Atopica and a steroid. I had heard this before, but always put it off. I’m not in the medical field but I know steroids are a problem and certainly doesn’t take a genius IQ to realize that an immunity suppressant like Atopica was a scary thing.

It turned out to be absolutely the worst thing.

In the first month, the fur started to come back. No cone, no pulling and a happy cat. We had found the fix. It was a great three months, but I hated giving her this stuff. It was a battle as she didn’t want to take it and every other day wasn’t working, so it was every day.  But for me it was working and for her she was doing well, seemingly anyway. The allergies were corrected, but those unknown beginnings came back to haunt us. At least to my understanding.

One of many cones…

She crashed and she crashed quickly. The Sunday of Thanksgiving week 2015, I noticed Tessa had lost a lot of weight. While I would pick her up onto my lap, I never really picked her up into my arms. But it was a lot of weight. She was Maine Coon mix with lots of hair, so visually I never saw a thing. I took her to the vet on Monday and she was down 25% of her normal weight of about 12 pounds. Nothing was specific as to what was wrong and testing for worms and usual, standard tests didn’t show anything.

At this time, there was nothing else visually wrong with Tessa’s behavior. She was eating, playing and loving, and just being her usual and normal self. On Tuesday, she stopped eating. On Wednesday, I took her into the vet again and they said that a sonogram or some x-rays should be done; however, they couldn’t do them on site. I then drove straight from there to the dermatology/emergency center where I took her initially for the allergies.

They decided to do a sonogram. It was a lot of waiting at the vet and while there I felt horribly for a man and his dog who was obviously on her last leg. His pain killed me. I got on the floor with them to try and help while he was in utter tears. I saw a woman pick up her pet’s ashes. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be long before I was just like them.

When I got the word she was going in, I went to get something to eat. One block away upon my return they called and I said I would be in shortly. It was much quicker than what they indicated. I sat down and was chatting with a woman about the ferals that I feed when they came to get me. She looked at me and said “let’s go in the back”. My heart sunk the moment she finished that sentence.

2014-03-01 10.15.21
Picked bare…

The results showed a possibility of lymphoma. I was devastated because I just knew it was the Atopica and I was the one who put it down her throat. I was responsible for what was going to kill my cat. The vet tried to reassure me that yes, it could be a side effect, but there was no way to be sure without the test results. They did an x-ray after giving her a bit of a break and said that she really should stay overnight. It broke my heart and I’m crying as I write this all over again.

I went in the back to see her in the little cage and after a few seconds she recognized me through her drugged fog. I picked her up and all the beautiful belly fur that had come back was now shaved clean. I held her, spoke to her, stroked her, and struggled with myself to put her back in as I knew she needed to rest. I took off my sweater and put it in with her so at least she could have me near in some small way. I cried all the way home.

It was hard not to have her that night and I had planned to drive to The Gentle Barn and see my friend’s band play that day but my heart was just waiting for the moment I could bring her home. I got the call that I could get her at noon. She was waiting for me and her usual chatty self. Oh, that girl could talk, and how I loved it. I got her home and set up a heating pad on the sofa to let her rest in peace and quiet. I stayed on the sofa the whole day with her, reaching over often to reassure us both.

We had a good Friday and a good Saturday as well. She was eating and walking around; maybe a little slower paced, but my intelligent girl was there.

Soaking up the sun...
Soaking up the sun…

Saturday morning when I awoke and called her name she came and did her usual jump on the bed, just inches from my face for a pet. She even let me know later in the day that she wanted to go outside. This was a great sign to me. “Outside” consists of the tar and gravel space between my building and my neighbor’s, but she loved to sit out there and do nothing or chase the occasional fly. She ate quite a bit and slept, but all was good. When I came home that night after photographing a band for just an hour, she walked into my lap. I sat on the floor and pet for a good 20 minutes. It would be the last time of the hundreds of times of this routine. I didn’t want to leave her but the fact that I was given that moment just made leaving all the more worth it.

Sunday morning was completely different – she stopped eating. We drove up to the vet and they did a blood test and a basic check. Everything showed ok. The goal was to keep her comfortable until the test results came back. Because it was a holiday, they were going to take longer and while I did not at all like that, I knew there was nothing I could do.

2015-11-26 13.38.44We came home and she slept a bit on the sofa but then broke into my closet and hung out in there. This too was not totally unusual. I could never figure out why she had to go in there but on occasion, she just did. After a bit she went under my bed. I was on the phone with my friend at this time trying to deal with all this when she came out and kind of howled. She went by the window on the floor and she seemed dazed. Something had definitely changed, but I had no idea of what in a matter of just a few hours. I laid with her on the floor for probably an hour, just talking, petting, and keeping her safe. She then got up and walked away a bit. I picked her up and put her on the bed, got her cat bed, and just tried to make her comfortable.

Then the howling started again, but consistently. I got some water for her and she drank very slowly. It was at first like she didn’t have the energy for it or as if she’d never had water before and didn’t know what to do. It was slow but I held the dish for her until she was done. A few minutes later she walked onto my lap and I thought she had a fever as I got very warm, but she was urinating. She had never not used the box in her life. I got her in the cat bed and changed and ripped off the comforter. I had no idea what to do or what was going on, but that my Tessa was just not right.

I called the emergency vet and they said I should bring her in. I asked are you sure? We had just been there and what could change in just a few hours? Was it worth it for her discomfort? They nicely insisted. I said I would be there shortly. I got dressed and her box ready. I placed her into it and she was in a sort of pain or just disoriented and completely limp. I had no idea what was going on now, but I ran out the door as fast as I could. The change in that last hour was hard and fast. I felt so utterly confused and useless.

2013-12-16 20.29.25
Always one of my most favorite of her habits. Five minutes or five days away, always the same.

I never took my hand off her while she was in the car seat. She howled a bit now and again, but I just spoke to her and stroked her as well as I could while driving. About 10 minutes out I felt her head rest on my hand, then fly into the corner and a wail. I had no idea what happened. I turned on the lights and the sight of her in the box just killed me. I just knew she was likely gone. Sitting on a car seat, in a box and not in my arms. It was not what I ever imagined or would have wanted. If I had waited just a few minutes more she could have been in my lap and my arms at home, but it was a lose-lose situation any way you look at it. At least I was with her. Ten minutes earlier and she would have been with strangers in the back at the clinic and I would have never forgiven myself for that.

I got to the vet and ran in just saying, “I think she’s gone”. They took her and put me in a room. Shortly after, it was confirmed. She had had an embolism. They brought her to me on a black blanket and she was so peaceful. I was a wreck. In my mind I had killed my cat. The most wonderful little girl who trusted me the moment she laid eyes on me, 8 years earlier. No one could make me believe any other way. I still feel this way, yet I know we had done everything and for those last 3 months she wasn’t suffering from the allergies that I had spent years just trying to help.

Eventually I handed her back but I could have sat there for hours. I didn’t want to leave the cat who would talk to me and make me smile and awake every single day with her “let’s go” attitude. It’s been two months as of today and hurts just as much as it did then. No more tapping me for play time, no more nose to nose in the morning when I called, no more chatting about nothing, no more wind in her fur, no more giving me the look to make my lap available when she wanted it. Years of those moments gone in four days.

Shaved belly, shaved leg and tuckered out.
Shaved belly, shaved leg and tuckered out.

Two days after she died the test results came in. I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to hear them, but ok I thought, let me hear how she had cancer. I was slowly coming to terms that it was just hard and fast and I could have done nothing else.

She did not have cancer. She died of toxoplasmosis.

She could have been cured with a simple antibiotic. Had I noticed the weight loss even maybe a couple weeks earlier, it is possible I’d still have her today. But I didn’t. Had I not decided to do the Atopica, I’d still have her today. But I don’t. Hind sight certainly is 20-20 here for me. There are so many things I wish I had done differently, but at the time all of the choices were what seemed like the best option as explained to me. Without the Atopica, she would have suffered from the allergies. Steroids instead? Same possible outcomes. There was no right answer when everything else had been tried and tested and all failed. Odds are I may simply always feel responsible. I certainly will always feel the loss. She rescued me just as much as I rescued her.


What I want to recommend to any others with a cat and severe allergies is to be diligent. I thought I was but with a limited bit of knowledge on all of this, I failed. I just failed.

My last touch...
My last touch…
  • Why didn’t the vet say “Ok, we will have monthly checkups to make sure all is going well”.
  • Why didn’t we do a more thorough check and possibly test for toxoplasmosis in her system before starting Atopica?
  • How many cats suffered through these trial tests for the drugs approval and a side effect was death? And why are precautions not in place to prevent something so preventable?
  • Why not have a system of checks and balances put into place to assure all was well from the first dose and make changes if necessary?

I was told this outcome was very rare. Fine. Fact is though due diligence, maintenance and recommended checkups would mean Tessa was sitting on my lap and I’d not be writing this story. Her allergies would still exist but we’d just tackle that as needed as we had been for 6 years. I cannot help but think this could have been avoided. I cannot help but think I should still have her with me.

I simply hope that my story may prevent this situation for others. Please share this with anyone you may know that has a cat with allergies. I couldn’t save Tessa but if this helps just one other person, then I know her legacy lives on. I donated all of Tessa’s meds to a woman with severe health and income issues who also had a very sick cat. There was a caveat on the handing over the Atopica…buyer beware.

Her very last good day... Heart, mind and soul completely in tact.
Her very last good day… Heart, mind and soul completely in tact.

PS. Just as Monster’s leaving opened the door for Tessa, Tessa’s leaving opened the door for Ruby. Maine Coon Adoptions in Oakland, Ca pushed through my application and today I have Ruby. She is her own girl to be sure, but every time she does something that I thought so unique to Tessa, I just have to smile. I know Tessa would want to pay it forward.

Meet Ruby. She leaps and bounds into laps.
Meet Ruby. She leaps and bounds into laps.

All images and story copyright of Misti Layne. No usage without expressed written permission.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Oh my dear, my heart hurts reading this. Thank you for your courage and willingness to share your experience so that someone else can benefit from your pain. I understand your fierce love for Tessa and the rare kind of soul connection you had with her. I still miss my boy ESALEN. You and she will continue to be in my prayers along with Ruby.

    1. Thank you so much Kathleena! Amazing how they give us just everything isn’t it?

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. Our calico, Noodles has been struggling with allergies for a little over a year. The second vet we’ve gone to did steroids for a few months and finally talked us into Atopica. Three weeks later, she is still suffering.

    After reading your story, and other stories about the potential risks of this drug, I will not continue using it. Noodles is far too important to risk that.

    Sorry again, and thank you for sharing your story.

    1. So sorry to hear Nick! It is such a struggle and you just want them happy. I know Tessa tolerated the cone but it had to be torture to be itchy and not relieve the pain. Tessa was definitely better finally with the Atopica. I just REALLY wish they had said let’s keep an eye on her just in case. Then of course it did not help it was a holiday weekend and we had to wait but it was likely too late for the simple antibiotics that could have saved her. Thanks so much for note and all the very best to Noodles. I hope something can help but she is obviously very loved!

    2. Nick, hello. I too am grateful to Misti for sharing her story, tho’ sorry she had to relive Tessa’s passing in the process. Her story informs my decision regarding Atopica and my cat and opens the possibility that what I am about to share may help you and Noodles.

      To make a long story short, it has been immunotherapy serum that ultimately made the difference (after many years of trial and error) for my cat’s allergies. She was lucky that a serum existed for her particular allergies. Because of her improved dermatological conditions, her steroid (Prednilosone) dose has been dropped to minimum every other day. If she has a flare up of sores/lesions, then a 10 day course of Pred usually takes care of the worst of the issue. I cannot remember the last time she had to wear a cone. Kitty onesies (sometimes with leggings that I sew onto them) have been my salvation (along with a regimen of hypoallergenic-grooming-wipe baths and 1% hydrocortisone cream). But at this point ….as the effects of immunotherapy treatments have gradually built over 2.5-3 years, her quality of life and my ability to calm my overwrought attention are much improved.

      I believe the most critical part of this ongoing journey has to do with vet dermatologist I finally found once my vet and I had no other ideas after at least 4 years of going back and forth without any real change in degree and duration of symptoms. The vet dermatologist is diligent about scheduling periodic check-ins including blood pulls and is patient with (and finds very helpful) my lengthy notes from my journal of observations regarding my cat’s condition. And she is in the area to stay, so vet continuity has been a huge benefit. Second, my vet is affiliated with a large University veterinarian medical center — research and learning institution makes a difference.

      I could barely get thru Tessa’s story — everything about the story resonated with me. My psyche would have mirrored Misti’s experience had this happened for me and my cat. I found her story in the course of gathering more info to inform a transition my vet dermatologist and I are monitoring closely: replacing the Pred with Atopica at this point. Two or three years ago, my vet recommended Pred over Atopica because of concerns at the time re: Atopica side effects, esp. given my cat’s history with tumors. I believe it was a fairly new option at that time. I would not be willing to try this now without her assurances that concerns over the side effects were lifting based on additional years of monitoring use with cats. And the confidence I have in my dermatologist’s wide ranging knowledge and willingness to work with me. I will definitely be asking her about toxoplasmosis.

      My heartache for Misti and Tessa are eased to some degree by the idea that Tessa paid it forward to Ruby. I can totally imagine that!


      1. Cindy, I am so happy to hear that this is under control and you found the help you needed. That really makes my day. I wrote this just simply so that others could have some insights that I did not and save someone else’s beloved cat. I do so miss this girl even to this day and it has been years. I still feel guilty and have regrets but it is what it is. I do have Ruby and my 19 pound beast Charlie who seriously is an absolute clown and has so many of Tessa’s characteristics actually. My heart is full but there will always be a piece of it that is all hers. That goes for all the others before her too! Best to you and your cat and that the meds and vets make for a happy and healthy kitty!

  3. I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet kitty. Thank you for this information as my vet just prescribed atopica and now I will not be giving this to my kitty. I so very much appreciate knowing what this could do to my kitty. I already have a 14 year old kitty suffering through chemo for lymphoma treatment from a drug called Calcitriol prescribed by another vet I no longer go to for renal issues that she actually doesn’t have. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking.

    1. Ohh, Mylene, I am so sorry to hear this and thank you for your kind words. Tessa was a cat born in farm country Michigan. Her first three months of life are unknown. She had the toxoplasmosis in her system and I just didn’t see her weight loss and it was the damn holiday weekend. It DID help her but it also killed her. She COULD have been saved by antibiotics if in time but it just wasn’t. You have a lot on your plate and if you can keep an eye and maybe test for toxo in the system, it may help. She finally had a full belly of fur but… take on only as much as you can. Obviously you will do your best by them. Maybe more vet checks will make it ok and for a happy cat but just don’t take your eyes off any symptoms. My best to you all.

  4. Hi there! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. Reading this blog post may have just saved my moms cats life! Her cat has been on Atopica for 2 years for skin allergies. Over the past few months she has been losing weight. She was a big cat…21 lbs! Her diet was changed over the months so my mom thought she was losing weight from that, because Miss Kitty was acting fine.
    About a week or so ago, Miss Kitty stopped eating, became short of breath, was sleeping all day and losing weight at a rapid pace. She took her to the vet and she weighed just 8 lbs! They did an Ultrasound and said it did not look good…they were thinking lymphoma. Her heart was barely visible in the x-ray because there was so much inflammation. They did blood work and removed a small amount of fluid from her lungs. All of her lab work came back basically normal. They were dumbfounded. I began to research Atopica and saw that it can reactivate Toxoplasmosis in cats who have latent Toxoplasmosis. It basically weakens the immune system so much that the toxoplasmosis can become active.
    I then came across your blog post and was filled with tears of sadness for your sweet kitty, but also tears of joy…because your story may be what saves Miss Kitty! I am so sorry Tessa had to suffer like she did and knowing an antibiotic could have saved her just breaks my heart. Her story is tragic but there is a silver lining, she is saving other cats!
    After I pieced everything together I had my sister call the vet and the emergency vet that she had gone to. She explained that she may have toxoplasmosis and their answer…thats highly unlikely but we will test her antibodies. As of right now, the antibody results have not come back. I told my mom to tell them…no demand, that they start her on Clindamycin NOW, before the test comes back. Of course, they said they didn’t recommend doing that but they would precribe the antibiotic if she really wanted to start it.
    She had her first dose last night and this morning she is already showing signs of improvement! Instead of being completely lethargic, she has been walking around, grooming herself, eating more and sitting in front of the window sunbathing! We are praying this is the answer and that she continues to improve. We dont want to get our hopes up so soon, but seeing these changes have given us hope. So we just want to say Thank You! Thank you so much for sharing the story of Tessa. She will forever be in our hearts! I hope you have found some peace and know that you are not responsible for Tessas illness. You only wanted to give her relief and Atopica was the answer for her, at the time. My mom was in your situation. Miss kitty had lost nearly 50% of her hair and had open sores from continuous scratching. Atopica worked so well. We trust that our vets know whats best, but sadly, we come to find out that they dont always do their due diligence…and this can have tragic results. We are so thankful that you took the time to share your story. So again, from the bottom of our hearts…thank you! RIP sweet Tessa.

    Ruby is adorable!! I hope she is doing well and that you are enjoying every moment with her!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your story, Tracy. This is exactly why I shared my story. Something so simple should not happen again. I really hope Miss Kitty gets better and conquers the allergies. I’m so glad the doctors are listening to your demands and taking an antibiotic (in my non-medical training thinking) isn’t going to cause more harm in case and the sooner the better. No one should be put off because something is “rare”. It doesn’t matter rare or not. It DOES happen. Your post made me smile and tear up all over again. I still miss her immensely, but I have Ruby, Charlie and Sushi keeping me busy. My best to you all and do keep me updated, please!

      1. I’m so glad that you are doing well and have so many fur babies to keep you company! I lost my 16 year calico, Molly, nearly two years ago to inflammatory bowel disease. It was devastating, as she had been by my side since she was 12 weeks old. I know exactly what you have gone through. Like you, I have my 19 year old ginger boy, Baxter and a 2 year old super sweet, black cat, Neko to keep us busy. We adopted Neko a month after we lost Molly. He reminds me of Molly in so many ways and I am so happy that he has come into our life. I will definitely keep you posted on Miss Kitty! Thank you again!

      2. oh, your photography is absolutely gorgeous! I used to photograph years ago, not portraits or weddings, but more still life, travel and nature. I have leaned more towards abstract painting over the years, but seeing your photos really reminds me of how much I love photography. Yours is beautiful! To be a photographer in the Bay area…that is amazing! San Fran is one of my favorite cities and vacation spots!!

        1. Thank you! I’m a lucky woman to live here and work here…well one day soon again I hope. But I have cats to keep me company till my industry can come back.

  5. My cat is dying thanks to this drug. I can do nothing. I’m so beside myself.

    She would tear her skin up and we had been through years of trial and error with it. Finally Atopica seemed to be the miracle cure. Then her mouth swelled up with a gum infection. After some googling we realized it was the Atopica. She is wasting away… will not eat… and there is nothing anyone can do about it. I’m heartbroken. My only option is to hope she is strong enough to pull through this and keep her comfortable with pain medication. It’s looking grim though.

    Why is this stuff even on the market?! I’m mad more than anything. How could they even recommend this drug?! Please send your prayers and good energy my way. She’s going to need it. I hope she can fight this off.

    1. I am so sorry to hear this. I lost Tessa in a week but didn’t realize she was losing weight for months before. It is horrible. There could have and should be things in place to prevent this stuff. My very best to you both and know I feel your pain.

  6. I’m so so sorry for his happened to you and your baby.

    My cat is six now and has been on Atopica for about three months and we’re stopping it this very second. I noticed she’s lost about a pound and just seems less of herself. Ordinary for the most part but sleeps more and just appears skinnier. We had a lymphoma scare with her once and I’ve been terrified to go through it again. This isn’t worth her having some scabs and spots to manage throughout allergy season. I’m so worried now and I’m hoping that I’m ahead and she can bounce back. Inside I’m really scared. I just brought her for blood work today.

    Thank you for writing your painful but potentially life saving story. I’m thankful for it

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Every time I see one here, my heart breaks a little. I sure hope the best for you both and all I can say is due diligence. It looked like a miracle but little did I know what it was doing to her. She is so young like Tessa who was eight. It’s so not fair but you are obviously doing all you can right by her. Hugs to you both and please update me with news. Misti

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear of the outcome and my heart is with you in your difficult time. However, it’s nice to know I am not the only person dealing with or has dealt with a cat with severe allergies. Somedays, I am at a loss on what is the best thing to do for her. Emma will be 13 this March. She has been with me since she was a kitten. She is a beautiful blue-eyed Siamese cat. She is very skittish and a one person cat. I am her person and she is mine. It’s been her and me for almost 13 years now. Emma has always had allergies but they were minor in her younger years. She would get swollen eyelids occasionally. We went through a period of time where she got fat lips. The fat lips were treated with steroids. She had testing and biopsies done to rule out anything more serious. We did special food to see if there was a food allergy. We changed to ceramic bowls instead of plastic. The fat lips eventually subsided. About a year and a half or two years ago, the severe allergies began. The vet I saw at the time just wanted to treat with steroids. So… every 2-3 months, we were back in for steroids and an antibiotic if needed. Her belly became completely bare. She has no hair from as far up as she can lick all the way down to her tail. She has no hair on the bottoms of her back legs as well. We tried Atopica last year for the first time. While it began to help and her hair was growing back, it was causing other issues. She began to vomit a lot when I gave it to her because I have to hold her down and force it down her throat. The vet suggested giving it to her in wet food. I tried that and it worked for a day or two until she realized what I was doing (my cat is way too smart and it sometimes is a bad thing). Our relationship also changed. She didn’t want to be around me as much. I can’t blame her. I probably would feel the same way if someone was shoving something down my throat too. Finally… I told the vet this was not going to work long-term. For one, what was worse… getting steroids and/or an antibiotic every few months or vomiting every other day? And also, I did not want my baby to associate me with something negative. It was breaking my heart that she was staying away from me more. So… we decided to stop the Atopica and just treat the symptoms as they needed treated with steroids and/or antibiotics. Flash forward to a few months ago and we’re seeing a new vet at the same clinic. He really likes Emma because he also had a Siamese at one point in time. He suggested we get allergy testing and try allergy shots. I agreed to it because I would love to get to a point where she is not licking herself constantly and we don’t have to rely on steroids anymore because they can cause diabetes in older cats. So… we left that day with another steroid shot. Over the next couple to few weeks, I noticed a change in her eating, drinking and uination… there was a ton of it all going on. I got concerned so I made an appt. We went in and I explained what was happening. I said I don’t know if it is a temporary side effect of the steroid or if we have now moved into diabetes. The vet said he thought it was just a side effect and didn’t feel the need to test her blood sugar. Something didn’t feel right so I asked him to please check her blood sugar while we were there. Sure enough… her glucose level was 650– very high for a cat. Great. Now not only am I trying to get this allergy situation under control somehow, let’s throw in diabetes too. So… for the last two months… I give her an insulin shot twice per day and follow the allergy shot schedule as well. I have adjusted but it has been a big change… for both of us. However… giving injections is much, much easier than trying to give her something orally and it has had no effect on our relationship. At the last visit, he said he wanted to see her back in three weeks to check her skin because she has a lot pimples and angry skin from licking. We went to that appt. yesterday. Her skin is the same or slightly worse so guess what the vet wants to do? Atopica. I explained to him the issues we had with it the first time. He told me to refrigerate it this time and see if that helps with the vomiting. Okay…. that’s fine but what can I do about the fact that it makes her want much less to do with me? She’s diabetic now… steroids are now out of the question. I feel so stuck between a rock and a hard place. I give her the Atopica for now with the issues we have experienced before with hopes that the allergy injections finally start to work and we don’t need the Atopica anymore. Or we don’t take the Atopica and her skin gets worse and we can’t use a steroid to stop the itching. The thought has crossed my mind to put her down in the hard, dark moments but I could never live with myself if I did that. If she were terminal or had a disease with a poor prognosis, it would be different. I would feel at peace with it because I was doing the best for her. But none of these conditions are terminal. What do animal owners do who are in these crap situations where there seems like there is no hope or end in sight to the problem? My cat is on three medications now and six months ago… she was on none. I feel so defeated. I know my vet is trying to do the best he can for her and I appreciate him but this is so hard. I love my baby girl so much.

    Thank you so much for having a place where this can be talked about. I know my cat does not have the exact same issues with Atopica as yours did but I feel like we’re bonded simply from the fact of the struggle with it all. Again, I am so sorry for the loss of Tessa. I hope you’re able to find peace at some point with it all. We do the best we can for our babies and that is what you did. Sometimes… things just happen despite our best efforts. You loved Tessa and gave her a great life. God Bless.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. So heartbreaking and I understand completely. It is all just not fair and I feel your pain. I hope you find the solution that makes for a happy cat and her people! You all deserve that and peace. My best to you all.

      1. Misti, What was dosage you were giving to Tessa?

      2. Misti, Did the Vet say to dose Tessa every day or every other day?

        1. Hi Thomas, honestly it was so long ago that I just no longer recall. I think there was a daily dose. But this was about six years ago now.

  8. Our cat, Mouse, has just been prescribed Atopica. He’s been sneezing blood for 4 years now and can hardly breath at times. He’s 7 years old and our vet has tried shots, steroids, antibiotics and nothing is helping. So now she said to try this Atopica but after reading your story I’m afraid to give it to him. He’s my heart and I don’t want to lose him. I think I will tell our vet we’re not going to give it to him. I’d rather keep cleaning up his sneezes and wiping his eyes than losing him to Atopica. Thank you so much for your story of Tessa. My heart breaks for you. Prayers and Blessings for you and your fur babies.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this. What I would say is make sure you 100% do follow ups and I’m not sure if there is a test for toxoplasmosis but if there had been or had I been advised to the side effects in a way that showed they could be serious and they recommended checking in, it would have helped her faster and she could have been helped with antibiotics (never mind that it was a holiday weekend and people were away). She’d still have had the allergies, but I am pretty sure she liked life with me and didn’t want to go so soon. Best to you and Mouse and I hope you find some peace. It is SO stressful.

Leave a Reply