My persian cat was placed on Atopica about 3 1/2 weeks ago after being diagnosed(by skin biopsy) with Pemphigus Foliaceus, an auto-immune skin disease that occurs in both cats and dogs. There are several different types, the one she has somewhat less severe than others. All the same, she has suffered considerably.
She had been on prednisone for several years for what her vet believed was some sort of environmental and, possible food allergy. For about the first 1 1/2 years she did well on the steroids and a hypoallergenic diet, but at some point she stopped responding and had perpetual scabbing about her face and neck. About three months ago she developed a scaly, red and warm to the touch abdomen. She was constantly scratching and, as a result, bleeding and soiling her bed daily. Out of desperation my vet referred her to a dermatologist. She immediately told me she suspected Pemphigus based on the type of sores, and the fact that it was confined mainly to the face, neck and abdomen. Within a few days we had a definitive diagnosis and the Atopica was started. Although not approved for use in cats, it is prescribed for them when indicated. She had some initial nausea, and the vet recommended I freeze the capsules as research suggested this might cut down on that symptom in some animals. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but since I've been doing this there have been no further instances of vomiting.
My cat has now been on the medication for several weeks, and for the first few days she did seem to improve, followed by a worsening of symptoms that required she go in for a short-acting prednisone shot. She had several days of relief followed by more of the same symptoms. I was at my wit's end last week when the dermatologist called and said her routine skin test for ringworm had come back positive! She then informed me that the prednisone and the Atopica could exacerbate that, and that she would now have to take an oral fungal drug(in addition to Atopica) to treat it. Fortunately the prednisone has now all but left her system. I have no idea how she got ringworm(strictly indoors), but the vet told me that anything that suppresses the immune system(prednisone and Atopica), can make cats, in particular, more susceptible to fungal diseases. Makes sense to me, but it's stressful for both her and me juggling this medical protocol. The positive news I have is that in the last few days I've noticed some changes in her skin. Some of the sores appear to be drying out, she is scratching less and is less lethargic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, although I've accepted that she might be on this medicine the rest of her life. She is 14 with no other health problems, and I'm willing to do whatever I must to insure the remainder of her days are the best quality possible.
I've been doing some comparison shopping online for the best Atopica price, and have found a significant price difference at several places over what I'll be paying the vet's office every month. If I learned one thing in my many years of caring for pets, it's that with a little research you can find ways to significantly reduce yours costs while still meeting your pet's needs. My husband and I spent four years caring for a cat with kidney failure who was on subQ fluids daily, among other treatments. It was incredibly expensive initially, before we found cost-saving supplies through reputable companies online. Because this was possible, we saved a ton of money and were able to give him an outstanding quality of life for his final years. We have other pets-cats and dogs--who are fortunately healthy right now.
By the way, anyone who has a dog suffering from some unidentifiable skin disorder might want to research Pemphigus. Although it isn't as common as some skin disorders, there is a lot of information online. I had never heard of this disease, and even though I feel terrible that my pet has suffered much discomfort, I'm relieved for both her and me that we finally have a diagnosis and the prospect of successful treatment.
I will update on my pet's condition within the next week. I'm hoping she will steadily improve once the fungal infection is under control. I'll be more brief next time!