Jasper has had small scabby spots on his face, shoulders and neck for the past couple of months. They never seemed to bother him, so I figured they were from battling Jacob for supremacy. They usually stayed tiny and healed up just fine.
A few weeks ago we put him on a prescription-only dry food diet (with the regular canned food we'd been feeding him) to see if that would make his insulin more effective. I had previously been giving him the prescription food in smaller amounts because it's so darn expensive.
The scabbing got worse when I started withholding the normal dry food. We decided to wait and see if it would clear up like before, but then over the weekend he scratched the scabs off completely and was licking and scratching himself raw. We had him checked out Monday evening and our vet thinks it must be a food allergy--scabbing and itching around the face and neck are classic symptoms.
Go figure, my diabetic cat is allergic to the food that is supposed to help him stay well. Luckily Jacob and Lola haven't been affected at all, even though they were eating the same food.
The vet shaved and cleaned the affected spots on Jasper's shoulder/neck and near his mouth (and also around his butt so he has an easier time staying clean--sometimes a problem for bigger cats... how embarrassing!), and gave him an antibiotic injection to prevent any further infection. He looks like he has some sort of infectious, flesh-eating disease and a zombie haircut. I have pictures of it, but I'll spare you.
I have seen much, much worse in the course of my work, but I feel horrible that I let it happen. Even though we couldn't have known he'd be allergic to the food, I just feel so guilty. Maybe if we'd been more vigilant about his weight when he was younger he wouldn't be diabetic now, and wouldn't have had to be on a prescription diet. I can't help but second-guess all the choices we made.
We'll go back in a couple of weeks for a checkup and to discuss alternate treatment options. As excited as I am to get out of Massachusetts, I will be sorry to leave this vet practice behind when we move. They are fantastic and so easy to work with in a difficult situation.
Despite his zombie cat appearance, Jasper is still the happiest, silliest, big lovey fat cat I know.