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My cat has several scabs on his back mostly near his spine,

My cat has several scabs...
My cat has several scabs on his back mostly near his spine , he loves when I scratch his back really hard . What might this be?
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
9/7/2017
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30,848
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I'm sorry to hear of this with Phoenix. You appear to be describing a skin condition called military dermatitis - a papulocrustous (crusty bumps) eruption seen mainly secondary to allergic skin disease but recent studies indicate that a bacterial folliculitis is more important than previously thought. In rarer cases we'll find the demodectic mange mite which can be found upon examining skin scrapings microscopically. Phoneix’s vet will need to not only perform skin scrapings looking for that mite but also a cytology (microscopic exam of a small sample of skin surface) looking for abnormal numbers of bacteria indicating bacterial folliculitis.

Whenever the area between the edge of our cat's rib cage and caudal to the tail (the “saddle area”) is involved, a flea saliva allergy is most commonly found (these bumps can be found around the neck and elsewhere on the body as well). Even if you can't find any fleas, it's best that you apply an effective over the counter flea spot-on such as Advantage/Advocate or a fipronil-containing product such as Frontline or, preferably, one of the newer flea spot-ons available from Phoenix's vet. In severe cases we can either inject or orally administer a prescription glucocorticoid (steroid) such as prednisolone which often works wonders in these cats. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) aren't reliably effective against allergic skin disease but you might see how a dose of 2mg of an over the counter chlorpheniramine once or twice daily affects him. Please note that cats can be such effective groomers as to remove all evidence of fleas. It's important to still apply the flea spot-ons.

Phoenix's skin condition can also result from a food intolerance (up to 20% of these cats) or atopy (more common/allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust and dust mites, e.g.) Food intolerance/allergy is addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that his immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from his vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (my preference). A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen.

Atopy is usually initially addressed by the same prednisolone I mentioned above and used to address a flea saliva allergy. Prednisolone can be used as a test when differentiating a flea saliva allergy or atopy from a food intolerance. Both a flea saliva allergy and atopy are usually quite responsive to prednisolone. Not so a food intolerance. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30,848
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Does this cause him any pain do you think?

I believe that pruritis (itchiness) is the prominent feature rather than pain. He wouldn't love having his back scratched hard if it were painful. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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Hi Darlene,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Phoenix. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin
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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
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Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.

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