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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16908
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Recently my cat has been licking mself raw in various

Customer Question

Hey there. Recently my cat has been licking himself raw in various places. I'm thinking it might be an anxiety thing but I'm not too sure. He gets scabby and raw, and won't leave them alone. Also tonight his voice sounds really hoarse, and he keeps gagging like he's about to throw up. He seems tired, and whiny, and just off. I've also noticed he feels fairly thinner than normal, even though he's been eating the normal amount (this part might be me being paranoid). I'm worried but the vet in the small town I live in don't exactly have the best reputation so I'm not sure what to do. Can you please please please help me? I don't know what to do for him. He's my baby.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Kitten has several things going on including excessive grooming, leading to raw skin and sores, a change in voice, gagging, lethargy, whiny behavior, and weight loss even though he is eating a normal amount.

When we see weight loss with an apparently normal or increased appetite we need to worry about disease processes that either don't allow him to digest and/or absorb the food he is taking (such as diabetes, liver disease, primary intestinal or pancreatic disease including cancers) or those that lead to a higher metabolic rate such as hyperthyroidism or cancer.

Cats with immunosuppressive viruses like feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus can develop secondary skin infections, which are itchy, and easily pick up respiratory infections too. These cats can lose weight.

In an older cat the more common diseases we see include hyperthyroidism (a tumor of the thyroid gland that overproduces thyroid hormones) or if he were drinking more and urinating a tremendous amount, diabetes. Sometimes early on with diabetes we only see weight loss.

Both diabetes and hyperthyroidism are treatable or at least manageable.

Hyperthyroidism is controlled with daily oral medication (Tapazole, also called methimazole) or a very special diet called y/d both of which must be done for the rest of her life or treatment with radioactive iodine to selectively kill tumor cells which is usually a one time therapy. There are pros and cons to each therapy which your veterinarian can discuss with you after getting a firm diagnosis.

Hyperthyroidism is not painful, but elevated thyroid hormones can make them feel edgy or nervous and thus cranky and more vocal or whiny than usual, increase the heart rate and interfere with sleep, like drinking way too much coffee or energy drinks. Long term if left untreated it can lead to heart disease, hypertension, possible eye damage as well as kidney and liver damage. But if caught and treated many of these things can be reversed. Cat with hyperthyroidism may groom excessively because they are more anxious than usual.

Diabetes is controlled with diet and insulin therapy.

Unfortunately we cannot cure immunosuppressive viruses, but we can treat the secondary infections that occur secondarily to having them and get him more comfortable.

I know that you aren't thrilled with the local veterinarian but your fellow needs a hands on examination and testing. Ideally he should be tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses, and have a complete blood count and biochemistry profile with T-4 checked as well as a urinalysis. These tests often give us the information that we need.

If those aren't diagnostic then it is time to move on to more specialized testing. I recommend checking vitamin B levels to look for signs of intestinal disease, a test for pancreatic insufficiency called a TLI, and an abdominal ultrasound to look for signs of changes in the walls of the intestines as well as evaluating his organs. He may need an endoscopy to collect biopsies of his intestines if they look abnormal.

In the meantime you might try feeding him a higher calorie prescription food called Hills a/d or Iams Maximum Calorie from your veterinarian and make sure he has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Okay, thank you for your response! I will take him into the vet as soon as possible.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome, please let me know how things go for your fellow.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara