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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17685
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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For the last three years my cat has been grooming

Customer Question

For the last three years my cat has been grooming excessively and pulling out his hair. It starts about September/October and seems to end by Spring. He does not pull it out during the summer. Any ideas?

Another thing to know is that he was a hurricane Sandy Cat and had to be put in temporary foster care. At one point we had him in an animal rescue facility for a year and they had to cage him because he kept hiding where they couldn't find him, he's a scaredy-cat and doesn't like strangers. That was the first time he started pulling his hair out and he's done it ever since, same time each year. That was in 2014.

Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Where on his body has he been targeting?

Do you see him actually grooming (as opposed to him doing so when no one is watching)?
Any changes to the skin (ie pustules, pimples, redness, crusts/scaling, ulcers, or sores)?
Was the diet protein you feed changes in the 2 months before this started?
What flea treatment did you use? When did you last apply it?

Does he go outside in the summer?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.

Yes he does it right in front of us. His skin does seem to have dandruff. I changed his diet after he started the excess grooming, though as I stated he stops when spring comes so I don't think it's his food. He pulls out everywhere , head, stomach, back,the backs of his back legs, butt, neck, but not his front legs. He really over scratches his neck and he has a couple wounds which are healing. I have flea combed him virtually every day when it started this year and at first there was fleas but there have been no sign of them in two weeks. I used an all natural flea treatment that you apply to the back of his neck, I can't recall the name but it seemed to work. And he only goes out when he gets out, which isn't often. Thank you

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Thank you,

Now with the seasonal variation in his signs, I agree that the diet isn't likely to be causing his signs. As well, if you are seeing him actively groom, then we'd be less suspicious of stress induced causes. Furthermore, if there is only dander to be seen then bacterial agents could also be excluded though if it is quite a crusting dander then mites/lice would have to remain on out list of concerns (Ringworm could not be fully excluded either but sounds less likely). Though my main concerns with what you are reporting and his focuses is that we have an environmental allergen triggering an allergic dermatitis. And these can be tricky since they can be anything you use at home (ie carpet powders, laundry soaps, dust from heaters, etc) but also dust mites or storage mites.

With this all in mind, we'd want to take this in a step-by-step fashion. To start, just so we can remove lice/mites from our list of concerns, it would be ideal to treat your lad with a multi-species targeting anti-parasitic. Revolution and Advantage Multi are the two we often use and can eliminate fleas but most importantly these other wee more subtle critters.

As well, we'd want to see if we can allay the actual irritation of the skin. Since these conditions are often allergic at their heart, we can find antihistamines of benefit. 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 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. Or if his signs are too severe for these, then his vet could try an immune modulating drug (ie Atopica, steroids, etc) to help us with that side of his signs.

Furthermore, since constant skin trauma does affect skin health and we are seeing dander, we could also consider trying him with essential fatty acids (EFAs) here. EFA’s are the fats that are part of skin cells composition and play a role in their health and coat health. A general recommendation for dietary supplementation with essential fatty acids is based on supplying 1.5-2.5 ml fish oil for a 4kg cat. (Omega 3 or 6 but not cod liver oil since it has too much vitamin A). Alternatively, you can offer a small volume of fresh salmon weekly. If he doesn't like fish, then you can speak to your vet about alternative EFA therapies. Examples of oral EFA supplements include Viacutin or Yumega.

Overall, skin issues of this nature due raise a few concerns. Though given that we are seeing signs of active irritation and his seasonal presentation, we know it is more likely to be an environmental issue even if we cannot fully exclude mites/lice. Therefore, we'd want to take this in steps to see if we can rule some of these out and reduce his irritation. At the same time, do check for anything that could be setting him off at home and hopefully we can just settle this for him.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond.

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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Just curious.Can he get seasonal mites?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hi again,

Its not that the mites are seasonal per say, but its more that we can see them appear to be a seasonal issue when the environment they are in (temperature, moisture, etc) at a specific time is more supporting of them.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond.

**Please rate me by clicking on the **stars** at the top of the page as this is the only way the site credits me for helping you!: )