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Cat losing fur on legs

June 19th, 2005, 01:24 AM
Hi, I posted an intro on the other forum. I read a recent thread on the very issue I am writing about and wondering if anyone has had any resolution to their cat losing fur. I noticed last week that Kiki (our furbaby) was losing fur on her back legs (inside). She is 6, a bit overweight, and never had this problem before. She is highly allergic to fleas and we are using Advantage on her. I do not see her licking or pulling or biting her fur. I have seen her do that when infested with fleas (biting and pulling anyway). It is hardly inavoidable to not see her do this when she has fleas. She is always near us. She has her own chair in our computer room, sleeps on our bed by me and pretty much in our sight all day long. I forgot to say that I noticed today on the front of her front leg an oval area about an inch long that is now furless.

Is it possible that she is allergic to Advantage is my question? She just started this in March when she got herself bit by fleas. We were using the OTC Hartz flea medicine which seemed to be working but not this time. I had to take her to the vet (which traumatizes her due to the car ride - 10 minutes from our house) who gave her an antibiotic, steroid injection and the Advantage.

Thanks for any help or direction you can give me. I will, of course, be calling the vet on Monday. :)

June 19th, 2005, 08:24 AM
My cat Chico,was getting bald on his tummy and inside of his backlegs,it was not an allergic reaction,but a stress-problem(just had gotten a new kitten),I too did not notice him licking away too often.
The vet gave me Variton cream to put on the affected area and his hair grew back within a week,he was also less stressed after realizing the kitten was no threat.
The Hartz flea-meds have been pulled off the market,I never used it,but use Advantage every summer,on three cats and so far no bad reactions.
As for being traumatized in the car,ALL three of my cats howl all the way to the vets and it takes me more than 30 min to coax them into the carrier,so I don't think that's very unusual :D

June 19th, 2005, 11:16 AM
Sounds like classical stress overgrooming or psychogenic alopecia...some vets are better than others and not all recognize this. It's often misdiagnosed.

If I had a nickel for all the times I've seen skin sensitivity problems called "flea allergies" when the dog/cat hasn't even had fleas in ages, sometimes many years. If an animal is having chronic skin/coat problems that are consistent with allergies the more insightful vets will look at diet, not fleas, especially if the animal doesn't have fleas. Skin and coat problems and chronic ear infections are the common manifestations of food allergies in pets. It's amazing how many vets though will still treat skin and coat problems and stress overgrooming as flea allergies and put more and more powerful chemicals in and on them, something lots of us take issue with if it's not necessary. Sometimes too having fleas can trigger this condition but it continues after the fleas are gone, but even in those cases continuing to treat for fleas does nothing for the problem of the overgrooming. Don't think that you'd see it if she were overgrooming - I've had people swear their cats don't drink water because they never see it. :)

The way to treat this is to identify the source(s) of stress, and eliminate it. I'd consider getting a new vet as this one doesn't sound too thoughtful, very assembly line - instead of looking at your cat as an individual, they covered all bases for idiopathic skin problems - steroids, antibiotics, and more flea treatment. But none of these things does a thing for stress overgrooming, if anything makes it worse - giving her another physiological stress not to mention the trip itself. The trick is to figure out the cause of the stress (it can be something really subtle) and if it's something since removed, there are ways of getting over the hump and of further reducing stress in the living environment for a cat. Use lick deterrent creams or sprays (veritom, bitter apple). Do some counter-conditioning via reinforcing when the cat is not doing this, looking for ways to put some environmental, physical and social stimulation in the cat's life, and encourage an alternative behavior to take the place of the current stress relief. Reduce stress (which can come simply from not having sufficient exercise, activity or mental stimulation) and provide alternatives. Aversives increase the stress, don't go there (even squirtguns). Ideas for reducing stress: increase play time, increase exercise, increase attention, massage, confinement (for fearful or insecure cats), manage your behavior (quieten the household, adjust your voice and slow life down), provide a heat source (hot water bottle is good), white noise if the cat is easily stressed by what's outside.

It pays to shop around with vets - some are fantastic and would've been able to look at your cat and give you a diagnosis, others haven't got a clue and don't use their brains or even try to. Even if he's not into a behavioral modification approach, the correct pharmaceutical one would've involved herbal relaxants like Solid Gold Pet Calmer, Rescue Remedy, valerian, skull cap or catnip, or one of two classes of psychotropic meds (TCAs and SSRIs, most commonly amitriptyline).

Good luck.

June 19th, 2005, 04:14 PM
Just a thought. I hope it's helpful. We have a neighbourhood cat that comes in all the time. He belongs to a neighbour who should be ashamed with himself for the way they just ignore the cat. But anyway, Alfie was losing a lot of fur around the bum side of the tail. I didn't want to get into a battle with "the neighbours" about whether he will take him to th vets or not, so I decided on a homeopathic remedy, which was... Graphites tablets.
I gave them to Alfie twice a day descreetly (no side affects) And his tail fur grew back within a month. It may take a bit more time, but it's worth a go!

June 20th, 2005, 12:47 AM
That could've been anal gland problems...

What does the graphite do? Never heard of it.

June 20th, 2005, 02:08 AM
Hi, everyone and I so appreciate your feedback. A couple of things I thought about when reading your replies occurred to me that may have been causing her stress. First, we get a lot of cats that use our fence to go from yard to yard which really upsets her. Second, our water here is awful. We have an under-the-sink water filter but it is still very hard water so hubby and I are going to try bottled water for her AND add a few drops of Rescue Remedy for the stress.
Since she is very dependent on us and a social cat, I suspect she may have been extra stressed this past week because I was gone 3 days in a row during the day working for my son. I normally am home all day but she was all alone for most of 3 days. That rarely happens but that could explain the new oval hairless spot on her front paw.
I would rather change her water and try the Rescue Remedy than go through a bunch of drugs from the vet. That alone is a stressor for her. I will report when I know when some more.
Again thank those of who replied.

June 27th, 2005, 10:19 PM
Hello, everyone - I wanted to let you know I did call the vet and he called me back personally after hours. He said I was the 3rd cat owner to call that day about their cat over-grooming and he believes it is allergies. His suggestion was to bring her in for a depromedrol (steroid) injection to get her through this season (they last for 3 months, he said) and to give her cool baths ( :eek: - sure she would love that NOT!
Anyway, on Saturday I put her monthly Advantage on her and I swear to you that her overgrooming has taken a turn for the worse. Is it possible she is allergic to the Advantage? Secondly, why a steroid injection? I was wondering if cats can tolerate benadryl (like 1/4 of a small tablet)??? I don't know what she is allergic to, if that is the case and secondly steroid injections on humans can lead to brittle bones and a host of other problems. With cats? I don't know! She has now started on a new place so I am really concerned.
There are a lot of birds in the yard but she seems to enjoy looking at them. Other cats do come into the yard from time to time but I shoo them away. She gets really upset when she sees another cat in her yard - hisses and stuff but over-stressing her? Do you think? I am thinking of calling a different vet as someone suggested because I am not totally comfortable with the idea of a steroid and I can't imagine what she could be allergic to!
Thanks for all your input here.