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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20607
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Three of my cats have been losing hair and sneezing

Customer Question

Three of my cats have been losing hair and sneezing constantly. I took them to the vet and they weren't much help. Basically just said they're allergic to something and gave them prednisone shots. This was almost 3 weeks ago and the symptoms have not gotten any better. I've been giving them children's loratadine and it seems to help a little, but I still don't know what's causing them to be sick. I was told I could take them to a rheumatologist but I am sure that would ridiculously expensive. Do you have any idea what it could be?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

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

Are you seeing any nasal or eye discharge? What color?

Where are they losing hair specifically?

Are they itching or grooming excessively?

Any changes to diet in the weeks before they showed signs?

What brand of flea treatment are they on? When was it last applied?

Any new products in the house (sprays, carpet powders, candles, laundry soaps, etc)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I do not see any nasal or Eye discharge.
They're losing hair mainly on the lower back and sides above back legs and under the tail around the buttocks area .They are itching but I see a more grooming than itching.I have them on a natural and organic maintenance food by diamond. Prior to that they were on a conventional food from the grocery store but this is been going on before The switch in food. About 2 1/2 years ago one of our cats Otis started having these symptoms and then shortly after within a month or so another cat Francis got sick too. After a while they got better on their own but it's within the past six months both Otis and Francis as well as Xena who is a year and a half started to lose hair very badly. And another cat Gidget is not losing hair but she is sneezing excessivelyThey were on frontline consistently but the product was not effective so I switch them to an internal pill his directions are shoe give the pills to eliminate the fleas and then give one pill monthly after that which is what I've been doing.I do not believe that there have been any major changes to any products being used in the house especially nothing that is consistently used.The vet that I took Xena and Francis to seem to think that it was something outside that they were allergic to but Gidget is an indoor cat and she is sneezing worse then Xena and Francis who go outside every dayIs there anything that is contagious being that Otis was the first one to show symptoms years ago and now all of the cat seem to have it?The vet administered prednisones shots which have not been effective whatsoever but I am not even sure if this was the right treatment because I thought that prednisone was used to get rid of hives and such but not for allergy relief itself
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the misspellings I am using the speak text feature. Also, Otis the first cat to show symptoms is now living at my sisters house and he is not living at the house with the other cats, which leads me to believe that it could be something that is contracted and passed on to the other cats
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

First, I would be suspicious that we have more than one issue present. This is because while allergies can cause sneezing and skin irritation; we rarely see an allergen that causes both (unless we have a dusty litter or one of those examples I noted –which is less likely here). So, we may have 2 allergens but I’d be more suspicious that we could have a skin allergen and that the immune reaction is distracting the immune system such that we have a flare up of a feline viral agent (ie herpes) to cause the sneezing.

Now focusing on the skin, if we have all three cats signs and Otis is out of the house, this does sound like a possible infectious issue. A potential group exposure (topical or ingested) could appear this way but generally speaking we don’t tend to see common allergies affect all cats in the house unless the trigger is a generalized skin irritant. But if those can be ruled out, then we’d lean away from an environmental allergen.

With those aside and considering their target area on their skin, a flea allergy dermatitis or mites/lice infestations could certainly appear this way. As well, the latter would not necessarily respond to steroids (which often treats the allergic reaction but cannot remove the trigger and therefore won’t settle signs if the cause is still ongoing).

With that all in mind, I would consider using a multi-species anti-parasitic treatment for all the cats. Ideally, we’d want to have the local vet dispense Advantage Multi, Stronghold, or Revolution. They should have no issue dispensing these if they have recent weights for the kitties. These can be used every 2-3 weeks for a few doses to help remove any mite and lice concerns. It would also address their fleas, so they can hold off on their oral treatment for the short term. And that way we can rule out and/or address our suspect parasitic concerns.

As well, to just cover bases against allergies without immune suppressing the cats (and issue with the steroids any why a viral upper airway infection or mite issues could get worse or not settle with steroids), we can consider a trial on an OTC antihistamine. 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 manage 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 in people).

Finally, just in regards ***** ***** sneezing potentially related to the cats being herpes carriers, we can consider also treating with L-lysine. This is an OTC nutritional supplement that can help reduce viral load. This is available over the counter at health food stores, pet stores, and the vets. They tend to come as gels, powders, or crushable tablets to mix into food. An average cat dose is 500mg a day. So, we could use this as well.

Overall, we can see these signs related to a few different issues. That said, its quite rare to see multiple cats show allergic signs to pollens and standard allergens. And even less common to see it when cats are split into separate houses. Therefore, we'd be best to treat for mites/parasites here. As well, we can also use the other supports to reduce irritation as we work to determine the root irritant and clear it for all of them.

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. *Please remember to rate my service afterwards, as this is the only way I receive credit for helping you today. Thank you! : )

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How do I rate? You have been so helpful! Here are some pictures of what is going on with Xena. The vet that saw them was terrible, she is mobile and came to the house and was highly recommended by a few people I know, but she obviously had no idea what she was doing with this set of symptoms. I still can't believe she charged 212 dollars for two shots of prednisone. She didn't even do full examinations on either cat. I am going to ask her to get the medications you have recommended as a way to make up for the subpar treatment, and if she refuses, then I suppose I will give her a very poor review on all websites concerning her practice. I just now realized that this is not an email so I may not be able to send pictures. Do you have a way that I could get them to you? A number or an email, either. Thank you so much. I feel so much more relieved now and hopeful that my babies are going to feel better soon.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hi again,

Thank you for your kind words, I do always try to help everyone as much as I can. :)

In regards ***** ***** there should be a set of five stars on your page which you can click to use as a rating (1 being poor, 5 being excellent).

Otherwise, I do think it is worth a word with the vet about what we have discussed and if you do want to send some photos along you should be able to do so using the paperclip icon over your text box. Or you can post them on any website (ie photobucket, flickr, etc) and just paste the link here for me to follow.

All the best,

Dr. B.