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DrJessicaO
DrJessicaO, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  7 years of private practice & oncology experience with dogs, cats, exotics, pocket pets, etc
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My cat is losing hair along his spine near the tail. No - no

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My cat is losing hair along his spine near the tail. No - no fleas. It doesn't seem to bother him - no scratching and he doesn't mind being brushed there. Why might this be?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  DrJessicaO replied 3 years ago.
Hi there,
I would like to try to help you and Ziggy. One possibility in Ziggy's case is that he has developed an allergy to either something in the environment (atopy) or that he has developed an allergy to a component of his food. Cats can develop these sensitivities with age and one suggestion is to switch him to a hypoallergenic food. Another consideration is that Ziggy has an infection of parasite. For instance, ring worm does not cause a lot of intense itching in the cat (as it does people) and usually presents as hair loss only. A hair culture would have to be performed to diagnose this and if it is localized it can typically be treated with an anti-fungal ointment. I would also consider fleas because in 95% of cases, you do not visualize the flea itself. Adult fleas emerge from the eggs (typically that are in the carpeting or bedding), jump on the pet, lay more eggs, and the cycle continues. This is a common presentation for flea allergy and I would consider the use of monthly Frontline for at least 3 months to completely rule this out. Another possibility is a systemic disease such as hyperthyroidism. This is diagnosed by a blood test and can be treated with pills. Although what you are describing is not a typical presentation, the disease is common enough in middle aged to older cats that I would recommend testing for it. I hope this helps to answer your question and please let me know if you need anything else. -Dr. Jessica
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
trying to rule things out here:
I have three cats. If he had a parasite wouldn't the others have it also? particularly the one with whom he mutually grooms?

This has been going on and getting worse(more area) for 6 month. For 4 out of the 6 months he has been on Advantage so I think the fleas are unlikely.

Other info:
He really, REALLY objects to the advantage - crying.
He's on Prozac for behavioral issues.


Expert:  DrJessicaO replied 3 years ago.
Hi there,
I would suggest that an allergy (for instance, atopy or food allergy) is a higher possibility than the rest of the list. The reason I say this is that this is a very common diagnosis in cats and based on the location of the lesions and the history it fits the best. I think that changing the food is the very easiest thing that can be done but keep in mind that it will take at least 1-2 months before you will notice any change at all. Monthly use of Advantage makes fleas much less likely- you are correct. When a patient becomes infected with a fungus, mite etc, it is usually because he is either immunosuppressed (trying to fight a virus for instance) or stressed for another reason and so typically not all cats in the home are affected. For instance, you mention that he has some behavioral issues- if he is a kitty that may become stressed easily it would be more likely for a fungal infection, mite infection, etc to develop. It is for this reason that I suggest bringing him in for diagnostics if the food change, fish oil, etc, do not help OR if the lesion spreads or worsens. And not to add more confusion but to add just one more thing- considering the Prozac, another consideration in this case would be behavioral. Cats will hide and begin excessively grooming or pulling out their hair. He made need an increase (or even decrease) in his medication dose or be switched to a difference medicine. Your vet can examine a piece of hair under a microscope very inexpensively (called a trichogram) and be able to tell you if the hair is falling out or being pulled out to determine if this is behavioral. To determine this on your own, if he will tolerate it have him wear an Elizabethan collar for 2 weeks (found at pet stores)...if the hair starts to grow back, you know he is pulling it out and this is more likely a behavioral issue. I hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
OK. I'll try the food change.
I've had him in to the vets twice since this started for a checkup and the Prozac issue. Both times I mentioned the hair loss and the vet seemed to think it wasn't significant.
There are no lesions - just hair loss and the hair feels dry.
He's not pulling it - no hiding and it's an area that he can't easily reach.

Expert:  DrJessicaO replied 3 years ago.
Ok, that sounds good. If you are able, continue the fish oil as that will help not only the skin/hair but also overall systemic health.
DrJessicaO, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 979
Experience: 7 years of private practice & oncology experience with dogs, cats, exotics, pocket pets, etc
DrJessicaO and 3 other Cat Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
FYI-
I checked the date when I changed his food - to see if that might have been the cause of a food allergy - but the hair problem had started before that.
I looked carefully for parasites/mites and didn't see any.

Then I thought that just maybe...since he had gained weight lately, maybe he was having trouble getting through one of the catdoors - the one with the unfinished top edge. I cut the hole taller and wouldn't you know that in two weeks time his hair has started to grow back. Duh!

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