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Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20810
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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My cat has scabs,red bumps and she scratches all the time.

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My cat has scabs,red bumps and she scratches all the time. She is the runt of the litter and her siblings are quite healthy. The Vet said she is allergic to fleas. We don't have fleas in the house and we see no fleas on her. She is an indoor cat but the healthy ones are outdoor cats. "Jilly" LOVES to sit in the direct sun all the time. She wants to be really warm constantly. She pulls out her hair and is losing more every day. Vet gave her steroid shots and cortizone shots. Did not help. HELP!

I'm so sorry Jilly is experiencing this problem.

Has your vet done a skin scraping (painless) or any other type of skin/fur analysis? If not, this would be a good next step.

Even though you see no fleas in the house or on her, fleas can be brought in with Jilly's siblings who go outside, and even on your shoes or pantlegs. I'm assuming that Jilly and her companions are being treated with a monthly flea preventative like Advantage, Frontline or Revolution, sold by your vet. Flea allergic dermatitis is an allergy to the flea's saliva, and can cause a bodywide reaction. Contact allergies to irritants in her environment and food allergies may also be possible.

Mites (microscopic) like sarcoptic mange, need to be considered, as well.

From your description of the problem being mainly worse at the base of her tail, this area contains both scent and sebaceous (oil) glands and can be a common source of skin problems for cats. A condition called 'stud tail', similar to feline acne and caused by overactive oil glands, may be the problem or part of the problem, so discuss this with your vet, as well.

The steroid shots and cortisone should have been helpful in controlling the itching, but if they have not, the following may help: don't allow her to sit in the direct sunlight anymore, as she may be getting sunburned and/or her skin is too sensitive to sunlight.

If she is constantly licking, biting and/or fur pulling, she may have a condition called feline psychogenic alopecia, which is an obsessive-compulsive disorder and in addition to treating the physical part of this, ask your vet if a low dose anti-anxiety medication may be helpful.

If your vet cannot make a definite diagnosis and/or the current treatments are not effective, ask for a referral to a feline dermatology specialist. If you're located in the USA, check this site to see if there are any listed in your area;

I hope Jilly is feeling much more comfortable, very soon!

Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20810
Experience: Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
Cher and 5 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I'm sorry I have been out of the office for a few days.

I read over your answer. Then went on a "hunt" for fleas on Jilly. She has one LARGE flea!!! You are right. I guess when she goes outside to sit in the sun the other cats are out there and....I also never thought about fleas riding in on US. hhhhmmm I put Frontline Flea treatment on her and she is settling right down. Interesting. She hasn't eaten much at all since yesterday. But I saw her go back to her food dish a few minutes ago so maybe she is feeling better. We are putting wood floors, as we speak, throughout our house so this may help us SEE the fleas better. :) I don't know but hopefully. Thank you soooo much. We are remodling our house. It was something you said that triggered the thought that maybe this is stressing her out a bit too. We are doing small remodels but....! Thank you soooo much for these thoughts. We will get right on correcting these things.

Hello again, and you're most welcome. Thanks very much for your accept and most generous bonus.

I'm glad you found the cause of Jilly's itching/scabs! I didn't realize she goes outside to sit in the sun. You said she was an indoor-only kitty, so I thought she sat in the sun in a windowsill, etc., inside. Something else occurred to me, in re-reading your original post. You said she seems to crave warmth all the time.......this could be the result of anemia, from the flea feeding on her blood, so check this out at the vet's.

Yes, the remodeling could be stressing her out, so try to keep her as far away from any area being worked on and the loudest noises, in a 'safe' room with a closed door. If Jilly is stressed/anxious, due to the noises of the remodeling, she might benefit from a cat appeasing pheromone called Feliway/Comfort Zone for Cats, which comes in both a spray and plug-in diffuser. It's available at major pet supply stores, and also online. The diffuser resembles a plug-in air freshener, but has no scent to humans. Feliway helps to relax stressed or anxious cats, and is useful in a multitude of situations. For more information, please see:
If she continues to seem to fur-pull after the flea problem is ended, discuss a low dose anti-anxiety medication to help her feel less stressed, with her vet.

You are very wise to replace your carpeting with wood floors, and now that you've started Jilly on Frontline, it would be wise to have your home and yard/garden treated professionally for fleas, to make sure the problem is gone for good. Treat the other cats who go outside, with Frontline (or Frontline Plus, which prevents fleas and ticks), monthly, as well. If you're located in the USA, a company called 'Fleabusters' is excellent; they are exterminators who specialize in flea removal.
I've used them myself, and they are great.

Check out the possibility of anemia for Jilly and I hope she's feeling much more comfortable, very soon. In addition to checking for actual live fleas on her, and your other cats, signs fleas are present are black specks resembling ground black pepper, which are flea 'dirt' (excrement), actually made of digested blood (after all, a flea's 'meal' is blood), so you can check all your kitties' coats/skin for these specks, constantly. Also, combing with a stainless steel flea comb every day will help you see what's in their coat.

Once they are treated with Frontline monthly, and your home/yard are treated, you should see no more problems. It might take a short while to see no fleas at all, but it will happen. I speak from experience (unfortunately!) : )

I wish you and your family much good luck with the remodeling and hope all will be well with Jilly and her siblings.

Kind regards,

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