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Cat Losing Hair on Hind Legs? & Vaccines question

March 23rd, 2008, 12:46 PM
I think I'm going to take an appointment for Onnie at the vet because he has this growing patch of rough 'stubbly' furloss on his one hind leg. I noticed today theres the begnings of a tiny little patch of it too on his other leg...

On a quick google search seems it can be anything from fleas (I doubt), allergies, ringworm...anything :shrug:. It may have started after he went on vet food (he is on wellness now because his fur became a mess after vet food)...or perhaps the clay litter is too rough on him/ the scented one is giving him allergies? He definately did not have these patches when i adopted him December 07.

I was hoping to take both Onnie and Bunduk to the vet together for shots and annual exam in april but I dont want this furloss is puzzling me :confused:

Unrelated, but I have a question about vaccines. With my indoor outdoor I used to give him all boosters and rabbies ever year, but now with both indoor (and 2 cats!) I was thinking of giving just rabbies this year and alternating booster shots every other year (as I heard its not good to overvaccinate and $ factor since they dont go out I dont see the point ) but when I asked my vet she says its the same cost whether its rabbies and boosters, or rabbies alone. How is that?:confused:

Dr Lee
March 23rd, 2008, 01:19 PM

It is hard to say on the hair change - best to have your vet look at him. If you want more information, could you post a picture?

I would like to answer some of the vaccine questions. Reason for the same cost? There are several possibilities, many of the vets nowadays are having these offers as a way to deal with the controversy regarding vaccines. If the cost is the same, then they are not 'profiting' from giving 'extra' vaccines. Thus it becomes a client decision alone. There may be other reasons...

With cat vaccines I do want to stress that you must find cat vaccines that are NON ADJUVANTED. What is an adjuvant? It is a anything that makes the vaccine work better that is not the vaccine itself. Adjuvants are typically inside of 'killed' vaccines which comprise many feline vaccines.

Why non-adjuvanted vaccines? The adjuvants are thought to be responsible for causing/triggering a serious type of cancer called fibrosarcoma. The company that champions non-adjuvanted feline vaccines is Merial (makers of Heartgard). Their non adjuvanted feline leukemia vaccine also has its own delivery system. This particular vaccine has been the worse for causing this cancer and even after the technology of taking the adjuvants out, it was still causing excess tissue inflammation which is thought to be the trigger for the cancer. So an extra precaution is used. A needless injector (developed by the US military so I am told) is used to 'inject' the vaccine through a puff of air. This spreads the vaccine instead of pooling it under the skin, used only 1/4 the volume of a typical vaccine and to date, has never been linked with one single cancer! So good news.

Also what vaccines does your pet need? That is very much dependent upon lifestyle of the cat, demographics, age and health of the pet, and local laws (some areas require rabies, some do not. My state does not require rabies for cats). As a general rule, the feline leukemia is usually one a risk for cats under three years of age.

Here is link to more information on this. Note, there is some controversy over adjuvants however there is enough information to want to avoid them right now!

Perhaps you and your vet can sit down and discuss which vaccines are really important for your family. Hope that wasn't too much info! Good luck.:pawprint:

March 23rd, 2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply and all that info on vaccines Dr. Lee :).

I always find that vet visits are quite rushed and I don't really get to ask my questions, but armed with your info (and the article which I will read) I now have specific questions to be answered. I never heard of non adjuvantated vaccines issue- definately something of concern.

Also thanks for your input re-hairloss, I don't want to be rushing to the vet if it could be 'normal' abrassion/ age - he is only 3 though- but with it spreading to the other leg I think it's best for my vet to see him. I may just be an over-concerned pet-mom :o

Here is a photo I just took of his leg:


Part of me thinks its silly to take him to the vet for this as it certaintly isnt a huge chunk of furloss..but it is not going away & seems to be getting bigger :shrug:

Here you can see the little patch starting on his other leg (you can't see the patch on his left leg becuase of the angle)

March 23rd, 2008, 01:58 PM
Now im thinking I look silly beause it looks tiny in the picture, but in real life since he's basically all black it is quite noticeable :o

Dr Lee
March 23rd, 2008, 04:23 PM
I am agreeing with your vet on 'normal abrasion' due to the pattern. Let me explain. Reason to suspect this is 1) it seems that the hair is very much shorter in length rather than an actual bald spot - correct? 2) I am assuming that the underlying skin is not red, inflammed or with discharge and 3) the location and pattern of the lesions. The location can be indicative of there he might rest his weight on his ankles thus causing an 'abrasion' to the fur and hair shafts. Symmetry of the lesions may also support this.

Other common causes that you had mentioned - fleas- wrong pattern and you should be able to identify the presence of fleas, allergies - not itchy and wrong pattern, ringworm - unusual to be symmetric, often cats are without symptoms, I do not see or hear the description of mild flaking. Also mites - no itching and wrong pattern. etc... etc...

If you start noticing areas, please let me know at once. This might change our differentials. Sometimes there may be underlying problems like thyroid conditions, etc... that can lead to these problems. However from his age and what you describe, I am not too concerned at this time.

I still think swinging him by your vet is a great idea - having the problem on the exam table is always better than a picture. :cat:

Good luck. :pawprint:

March 23rd, 2008, 04:45 PM
Thanks again Dr.Lee. He hasn't been to the vet for this though it started months ago, the 'abrasion' theory is my own, sort of analagous to humans getting rough thick skin on their feet.

It's not an actual bald spot, but rather a patch where its just 'grey' fur (I believe his undercoat, if there is such a thing in cats, is grey)..I have felt it to see if he pulls away in pain or anything but he does not. It is a rough area of skin/fur, but other than that he doesn't seem bothered.

I do not see or hear the description of mild flaking

Are u talking about flaking of the skin in that area itself or 'dander' in general in his fur? If its the latter then yes, his fur is FULL of dander now since switching him to weight managment food on reccomendation of my vet (he got quite round leading to him refraining from cleaning his own behind :yuck:), but I am currently in the process of switching him back to wellness because the state of his fur is quite sad compared to its former glossy glory. It's a bit complicated though because he has repeated anal gland issues (having them expressed twice in 3 months) and so the added bulk from weight control food helps in that regard. On reccomendation of some members (thanks guys!) I'll try supplementing his canned food with some pumkin or sqaush, but that's another story.

In any case, thanks once again. I may take him in to the vet just to ease my mother's mind, but you certaintly eased mine :):thumbs up

Oh and going back to vaccines, rabbies is mandadatory here so that I will have to go with - we also have had issues in our city with raccoons and rabbies so I wouldnt want to risk it in case my cats got out. Does the issue of adjuvanated/ not also apply to the standard rabbies vaccine? Or is this more for the boosters?

I re-read your earlier post and was also wondering about the 'needless delivery' of vaccines, is that becoming common place now in vet practices? I havent really heard of it and my cats do get the needles, unless its the vaccine that goes up their nose, lol.

Sorry for all these questions :o

Dr Lee
March 23rd, 2008, 05:14 PM
All good questions.

Undercoat - yes if this is exposed, it sounds like the hair shaft is being worn down.

Other concern. If the change of food does not resolve some of the issues. Perhaps a routine blood test might at least rule out any problems that might be underlying. Poor hair coat, lack of grooming, etc... if not nutritional may be other causes.

Pumpkin and squash. Great ideas. If you find a way for your cat to eat it regularly, let me know. Does anyone here on the forum know? I routinely use pumpkin for my canine patients but can't get any cats to touch it!

Vaccine questions

Rabies - yes, there is a non-adjuvanted form from Merial. Merial also has the IMRAB3 which while a great rabies vaccine, IS adjuvanted. So you need to make sure the rabies is specific. It will say live canarypox virus and be ONLY for cats. It utilizes a harmless bird virus instead of a live cat virus. If you want more 'nerdy' info on how it works, I can explain.

The needless injection is for feline leukemia vaccine ONLY at this time and requires a special device called the VetJet. It is white and teal colored and the size of a small flashlight. I wish it was common place. In my opinion, EVERY VET should have this but the device is about $250-300 and the vaccine is more costly. But really - why is this an issue for vets? (also if you but enough vaccines, the company usually gives you the device anyways!) When choosing between a vaccine that could give a deadly cancer and one that does not - why is this a question of a couple bucks per vaccine?! (Sorry, I am off my soap box now:rolleyes:) In Phoenix there are only about twenty vet jets being used. Very sad. I believe if the cat owners were aware of this technology and the data that strongly supports concern with adjuvants that this vaccine would be very common place!

Is there a cat only hospital in your area - they usually always carry non adjuvants. Personally, in light of the current data and the internal medicine and immunologists that I have talked to; at this time, you couldn't pay me enough to give a non-adjuvanted vaccine to a cat. Perhaps as the research continues, this will change but for now - everyone, please stay away from these vaccines.

I hope that answers your questions. :pawprint:

March 23rd, 2008, 05:56 PM
Wow thanks again Dr. Lee, this thread has been very informative:thumbs up... my girls are due for their shots and I am definitely calling the vet first to make sure they have non-adjuvanted vaccines first.

I was going to tell you about Fagan's skin & fur issues but now seeing Onnie's pics that looks nothing like what we have going on here (which is a flea allergy and self inflicted). And just so you know my mom's all black cat also has a grey undercoat. And that is one cute fluffy bum Onnie! ;) :laughing:

March 23rd, 2008, 06:47 PM
Apparently cats quite like the baby food squash :shrug: Dunno about the pumpkin, sorry. I assume my cats would eat it if mixed with wet, but Ive yet to try. I'll let you know if I can get them to eat it regularly.

and wow..thanks!!! You are a wealth of information. I wish I posted the question about vaccines in another thread with a more specific title so that more members would read it. It's very important to know IMO!

My vet, like krdahmers, is going to have a few questions coming her way :thumbs up

I will definately keep the blood work in mind if his coat does not improve.

re: grey undercoat, I was always so confused when id brush Onnie and only get grey hair :confused: lol. I didnt think cats had undercoats...Onnie thanks u for his bum comment, he was a lil busy eating dried shrimp treats to get mad at mum for taking pics of his bum :p:D

March 23rd, 2008, 07:23 PM
Pumpkin and squash. Great ideas. If you find a way for your cat to eat it regularly, let me know. Does anyone here on the forum know? I routinely use pumpkin for my canine patients but can't get any cats to touch it!

Apparently cats quite like the baby food squash Dunno about the pumpkin, sorry. I assume my cats would eat it if mixed with wet, but Ive yet to try. I'll let you know if I can get them to eat it regularly.

Cats seem to prefer the taste of squash over pumpkin. Growler (one of the cat gurus here) always recommends Heinz Organics or Earth Organics Butternut Squash. :cat:

Dr Lee
March 23rd, 2008, 07:26 PM
Thanks, I will try that next time!:thumbs up

March 24th, 2008, 01:53 AM
Pumpkin and squash. Great ideas. If you find a way for your cat to eat it regularly, let me know. Does anyone here on the forum know? I routinely use pumpkin for my canine patients but can't get any cats to touch it!

Cats seem to prefer the taste of squash over pumpkin. Growler (one of the cat gurus here) always recommends Heinz Organics or Earth Organics Butternut Squash. :cat:

Dr. Lee My :cat: Duffy quite likes the Heinz Organics Butternut Squash pure pureed babyfood - she'll lick it off my finger. The Heinz Organics and Earth Organics were recommended to me by the owner of the raw food store I buy from, as she mentioned cats prefer the taste of butternut squash to pumpkin.

I measure out the 1/4 tsp she gets per meal & put it into ice cube trays, freeze it, then dump into plastic bag. If left in the jar in fridge it will go bad long before you finish the entire jar. When ready to serve put a piece in w/food & warm dish slightly in the sink of hot water, mix throughly.

I mentioned this to my Homeopath vet & he agrees with this method of delivery, & made note of it for reference :D. He mentioned that he takes a fresh ripe squash boils it, mashes it, refrigerates to cool, add portion to meal, warming dish in hot water in the sink.

April 10th, 2008, 02:29 PM
I just wanted to update on this :thumbs up

Re: Squash, I bought some baby squash the other day and spooned some into their dish before I added the canned food. Turned around and Bunduk's face was covered in the orange mush :laughing: he LOVES it. Onnie will eat it mixed in with his wet food :thumbs up.

Re: Onnie's fur loss. I didnt take him to the vet yet as I saw it non-urgent but curious (I would in a second if it looked bad/ he seemed in pain). Anyway so I changed the litter from clay to swheatscoop and his food to wellness and the one leg where it started is totally back to normal now. His other leg is MUCH better! They are on their second bag of wellness now (still mixing with their old food tho cuz i had a huge bag of the old food). I dont know if its even related to the food/litter or which one it could be related to, but thanks for the input all!

Oh and so far so good in terms on anal gland issues :thumbs up

Finally with respect to the vaccinations, right after my exams are done Im taking them in for that. I will call my vet first and ask about what type of vaccines they use thanks to all of Dr. Lee's amazing information. :thankyou:

April 11th, 2008, 12:50 AM
Great news on all accounts Onster :thumbs up

:laughing: I can just picture Bunduk w/baby food all over his face :cloud9:

June 30th, 2008, 04:48 PM
My cat KC did the same thing.. in the spring... he was allergic to fleas. The vet gave him a cortisone shot and I gave him advantage. No more problems.