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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16269
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat has lost fur on her front legs. Is she sick?

Customer Question

My cat has lost fur on her front legs. Is she sick?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. How long has she had a loss of hair here?Do you see her grooming or licking this area more?Are you seeing any changes to the skin (ie pimples, pustules, scabs, sores, ulcers, redness, dander, or crusting)?When did you last treat for fleas? What did you use?Any diet change in the 4-6 weeks before this started?Any changes at home (ie new people, changes in routine, new cats outside, pets, babies, furniture, etc)?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Just recently . No sites. No change in diet.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
Did you mean you aren't seeing her groom more?Any flea treatment used?Any changes?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
No. She is not grooming more and there have been no changes in her diet or of circumstances. I live in Az, so, there are really no fleas problem here. I do not give her flea treatments. It's just suddenly this week .
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you,Now in regards ***** ***** question, hair loss on the forelegs without skin changes isn’t a sign of illness per say. Instead, it is a sign of focal skin disease or a potential feline anxiety situation. Now with the lack of changes to the skin, we’d be less worried about bacterial, mite/lice, fleas, and fungal concerns. Furthermore, if there has been no addition of any foods (changes in diets, treats, tid bits, etc), a dietary allergy is also less likely. Therefore, our main concerns would be a diffuse allergic dermatitis (ie pollen allergy, dust or storage mite, reaction to something used in the house, etc) or stress induced overgrooming.With all this in mind, we can take 2 approaches to this situation. Since allergies can be tricky, as our cats can react to anything and are unable to tell us what that may be, we will often need to start by reviewing all products used in the house and try stopping them for 6 weeks to see if she settles. In the meantime, we can also try to soothe allergic skin irritation with an antihistamine. Mild to moderate cases can benefit from this greatly, though severe overgroomers may need injectable long acting steroids to soothe the allergic reaction. Most commonly we use Benadryl/Diphenhydramine (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/over-the-counter/diphenhydramine-benadryl). A low dose (ie. 0.25mg per pound of their body weight twice daily) can just be enough to reduce that allergic irritation. Alternatively, you can also use Cetirizine (just 5mg for a cat) once daily. For either, we like to keep the dose low, since it can cause drowsiness (just like people). And of course, these shouldn't be used if your wee one has any known health issues or is on any other medication without speaking to your vet first.Otherwise, we’d need to consider stress. And I do have to note that if you aren’t seeing Eponine groom more than this is highly likely our root issue (especially since these cats tend to be “closet groomers” where more hair is missing then owners appreciate they have groomed off). As well, if there are no appreciable changes at home, then we'd be concerned that the changes may be internal and thus would need to think about systemic diseases that may be lurking and causing her to feel anxious/stressed.With that all in mind, we do need to look at the world around her to get a feel for any stressors causing her bother.While it can be hard to think of a cat as ‘stressed’ when they have no job and just sleep all day, they can get very anxious about situations they cannot get their heads around or solve on their own. Therefore, the chewing/grooming becomes an outlet for their frustration of being powerless to change their situation. In a way it is the cat sending us message (since cat’s don’t do email) or chewing their nails in frustration. And this can literally be to changes we will notice (like bringing a new cat home) but other times they will be subtle and we might miss them (ie like outside cats spraying the house/loitering in their garden, etc).In regards ***** ***** this cause for overgrooming, the ideal is to isolate and eliminate the trigger. When that isn’t possible or we are struggling to determine what is setting off our cats, we can use de-stressing tools to help reduce the. Often we will use Feliway, also known as Comfort Zone in the US pet stores, which is a synthetic cat pheromone that helps to relieve stress. This can be used as a spray or a plug-in diffuser. There is also a diet on the market called Calm by Royal Canin. This contains a number of supplements that have been found to provide stress relief to cats. As well, there are nutritional supplements like Kalmaid or Zylkene that are quite beneficial for soothing anxious cats. Though of course, if we use these and she isn't settling or has other signs (increased thirst, weight loss, appetite changes, etc); then we'd need to think about a check up for her.Overall, the key to tackling kitty skin disease of this nature is to figure out what is setting off her irritation, so that we can alter her life in a way to avoid this entity. Therefore, we'd want to address the points above one at a time to help you get to the bottom of what is setting off her over grooming. Monitor her interactions with the world, and hopefully the culprit will become clear. Do consider an antihistamine trial to block the 'allergic response' while you try and determine if this is allergy based. As well do consider a trial on the Feliway to cover your stress based differentials. And if she is due a booster soon, we'd want to think about moving that appointment up for her to ensure Eponine isn't reacting to an internal issue that is starting to cause her bother.Please take care,Dr. B. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. **Please rate my service afterwards, as this is the only way I am credited for helping you today. Thank you! : )
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **I hope all is well with your wee one. If possible, I would be grateful if you can rate my recent answer to your question, as this is the only way I am credited for helping you (this is at no extra cost to what you have paid already). This can be done by clicking on the "Rate my Expert' button at the top of the page. If you have any lingering questions, please reply to me. I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Thank you. :)