Thank you for your question regarding your 15 year old boy CJ who has developed a bit of a skin issue over the last 3 - 4 weeks. These symptoms of matting, hair loss and pink skin are all very interesting and there are a number of potential causes for this. You haven't indicated whether your boy is itchy, which could assist your local vet with a diagnosis, so do assess him to see if he is scratching or grooming himself more (or less) than usual.
There are a number of potential causes for these symptoms, and we also have to consider CJ's age here as well. It could be that as he is older, he has developed some arthritis and this restricts his grooming. If he doesn't groom himself properly, then his hair will matt like this. It sounds like you groom him pretty regularly anyway, so this should rule this out in a way.
Firstly - you need to make sure that CJ is definitely up to date with flea control. Make sure you are using a flea product appropriate for his weight. Even though you can't see any fleas on CJ doesn't mean there are one or two lurking and oftentimes this is all it takes for a cat with flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergies are avoided by strict flea control - every 3 - 4 weeks with Advantage, Advocate or every 5 - 6 weeks with Frontline. You must also ensure all pets in the household are treated at the same time. I would also recommend washing his bedding and treating the house to ensure any flea larvae are also taken care of.
Given his symptoms, we also have to consider whether CJ has a food
allergy. If you wanted to, you could undertake a diet trial with a novel protein diet such as Hill's D/D or a hydrolysed diet like Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, or Hill's Z/D ultra. This would mean feeding ONLY this (no treats or stealing other pets' food) for 6 - 8 weeks.
It is also possible that CJ may have skin mites or lice as they commonly cause areas of hairloss. These could be either Demodex (not itchy) or Sarcoptes mites (VERY itchy) and you should ensure a full Veterinary check up so that he or she can carry out a physical examination and possibly a skin scrape to check for mites and lice, as well as signs of fleas. The next step would be to double check for fungal disease (such as ringworm
) and there are several tests for this including a UV light and a fungal culture.
Finally - as CJ is an older boy, we also have to consider an internal issue that could be causing a skin problem. There are a number of syndromes that old cats are prone to (like an over active thyroid gland) that can also affect the skin and coat as well. For this reason, a full senior cat profile blood test would also be recommended when you follow up with your vet, to ensure your boy is fine on every other level. Your vet will also be able to carefully assess CJ's joints to rule out arthritis. If CJ is arthritic, then this may explain (at least in part) his unkempt coat) as he would find it too painful to groom his hind legs.
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