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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21437
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My newly adopted cat has hair missing on the back of his back

Customer Question

My newly adopted cat has hair missing on the back of his back legs, where they would balance sitting up.its a bit Raw as well but not fresh. Like scaring. He's been with us for a month and he doesn't chew there. What could have caused this?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
If you are not seeing him groom this area excessively but are seeing these skin/hair changes, then our suspicion with him is that what you are seeing is the result of is stress induced overgrooming. This is not uncommon to see in cats that have had recent dramatic life changes (such as a new home, new people, new life, etc).
These stress overgrooming kitties can be hard to catch in action since they tend to be 'closet groomers,' when stressed and hide their overgrooming behavior. The only hint we get is baldness in those 'easy to reach' places like this that has no associated skin disease (though sometimes rubbing the hairs near the area the wrong way will reveal rough/straw like texture that tell us that he is causing the baldness). In a way, the behavior is an outlet for trying to cope with their situation. And we have to appreciate that this is like our cats sending us message (since cat’s don’t do email) or chewing their nails in frustration. That said, just to note, if its not fresh, then it is possible that he did this early on but has now settled and abandoned the habit.
To get a proper idea of the kitty mind set, I like to think of cats as little hermits, animals who like their routines, and their environment as stable and unchanging as possible. This desired lifestyle becomes a problem when the humans they live with make changes that they can’t readily accept. So, it is often a behavior we see when cats adjust to a new life.
So in this situation, if you are sure he is otherwise healthy (so that we don't have to worry about the changes associated with internal disease inducing overgrooming), then you can approach this situation by first addressing anxiety. To do so, consider using some de-stressing tools to help provide him with a general peaceful environment, help him cope and reduce his anxiety. In these situations, we 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 to soothe anxious cats. Some people have even found treats like Composure or Bach Flower Remedy to be helpful for settling kitty tension. As these are not 'drugs', you can use any of these together to help settle his anxiety. And you can also use the environmental enrichment to help give him other things to focus on instead of his adjusting.
Overall, his signs do sound stress induced rather then this being hair loss due to a skin based disease. And if the skin looks to be healing, we may just be seeing the remenants of his being stressed and not an active issue. So, you can choose to monitor this +/- use the above de-stressing agents to help him continue to adjust to his new life and stop needing to comfort himself with overgrooming.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best, *****