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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29738
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Sandy is a 13 year old cat. For the last year she has been

Customer Question

Sandy is a 13 year old cat. For the last year she has been grooming excessively and even with a collar on manages to reach her stomach. She has pulled all the fur off her belly. I put the collar on,the fur grows back ,I take the collar off and this cycle is repeated. My vey changed her diet to a hypo-allergy food and she has been treated twice with Atopica and pills to stop infection. I was sent to a dermatologist veterinarian and we have gotten no where.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. There are all sorts of infestations cats can pick up. I'll have you talk to the Veterinarian who'll sort out what is wrong and help you decide what to do about it. What is the cat's name?
Customer: Any suggestions? She is depressed when she has the collar on and pulls the hair off her stomach when it is off.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the cat?
Customer: Her name is***** is an indoor cat. No other animals in the house
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Sandy. It's difficult for me to follow a specialist veterinary dermatologist but I do want to mention that Sandy's behavior is quite indicative of feline psychogenic alopecia. Feline psychogenic alopecia is overdiagnosed but does exist. Excessive and out-of-context grooming is thought to be an obsessive-compulsive behavior that's triggered by environmental stresses and anxiety. The condition is uncommon in cats, with purebred cats that have high-strung nervous temperaments being possibly predisposed. Flea hypersensitivity, food allergy, atopy, and other ectoparasites are more common causes of feline alopecia.

The alopecia of feline psychogenic alopecia may occur anywhere on the body where the cat can lick but it most commonly involves the medial forelegs, inner thighs, perineum, and ventral abdomen. Hair loss is often bilaterally symmetrical but remaining hairs don't epilate easily.

The underlying cause of the psychological stress (e.g., separation from owner, moved to a new house, animal companion died, new pet in household, formerly outdoor cat denied access to outdoors) must be identified and appropriate environmental modifications made, if possible. A good flea control program should be instituted to prevent fleas from aggravating the symptoms. Use of a mechanical barrier (e.g. Elizabethan collar, T-shirt) for 1-2 months to prevent grooming may help break the habit. Behavior-modifying drugs may help stop the abnormal grooming behavior. In some cases, treatment may be discontinued after 30-60 days of therapy; in others, lifelong therapy is required for control. Drugs that may be effective include the following: amitriptyline, clomipramine, buspirone, phenobarbital, diazepam, and naloxone.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I like the idea of a T shirt, I will try that since she is most unhappy wearing a collar. .I can't think of anything that has changed in the household that would cause Sandy anxiety.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

...and we can't psychoanalyze cats because they just curl up on the shrink's couch and go to sleep! Feel free to share our conversation with her vet. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I prefer to talk to you by texting . That way I have it in writing and can refer back to it.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

No worries. My state board of veterinary examiners doesn't allow me to speak to customers by phone in this venue.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
4Tshirts later, I finally found a shirt Sandy couldn't get off. I am trying some homeopathic remedies such as wondercide Skin Tonic Oil and rescue remedy spray. ( If they don't work they can be used by humans)
Also changed her food to a no grain for indoor cats( Nulo freestyle) I will keep you posted
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for the update, Miriam. I'll bet Sandy looks pretty cute in her T-shirt!