Q: Our cat Scout is a 9-year-old female with skin allergies. The allergies cause her to excessively lick herself, resulting in major hair loss and sometimes getting skin sores. We have been treating her for this with Atopica and give it to her in liquid form. It does work for her after several weeks of daily doses, but she hates the taste of it so much that her quality of life seems to be worst when she is taking it.

She starts to act depressed and runs away from us and hides whenever we get near. If we stop giving it to her, she will eventually start to act more normal, but by then the skin issues have returned. We have tried having the medication compounded into soft treats, or mixing it with food, but nothing seems to fool her.

So at this point we don’t know what is worse, the treatment or the allergies. Do you have any recommendations for what we can do to keep her from being so itchy without having to deal with the issues caused by the Atopica?

A: So you have quite a dilemma on your hands since the medication works, but your cat basically hates you when you’re giving it to her. The alternatives that you have tried are things that I would have recommended as well, but obviously they haven’t worked.

One thing that you didn’t mention is if you have tried the capsule form. This form is normally used for dogs, but is the same medication as the liquid form that you have been using. Your only issue may be that you will have to get the medicine in her, but if you can do so properly, she won’t have to taste the medicine.

An alternative would be to try a new drug for atopy called Apoquel. It only comes in a pill form, but it is fairly small, so it may be easier to get the pill in her. Apoquel is not approved for use in cats, so it would have to be given in an off-label usage.

Ask your veterinarian if they would recommend trying it, as many veterinary dermatologists have used it successfully over the past few years in certain feline skin cases.

If that doesn’t work out, you may have to consider going without medication, as it may be more healthy for her long term, as long as the skin condition doesn’t drive her or you crazy.

Got a pet-related question? Send it to Dr. Anderson, a veterinarian at Hawthorne Park Animal Care Center in Bloomington, via email at features@pantagraph.com.

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