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Stressed and Pulling Out Fur

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
A few weeks ago I noticed that Possum had a big raw patch on his stomach, which I posted about in the Health & Nutrition forum:


The follow-up:

Also, Possum is a Snowshoe (Siamese mix).

The Clavamox didn't work, and the vet injected him with some Cortisone, and that stopped him from pulling out his fur. It began to grow back and he's looked pretty good. The vet couldn't determine if it was actually a bacterial infection or not.

2 weeks ago I had to go out of town for about 5 days, and I left them at home. I had a neighbor come in and feed him and his brother twice every day. They didn't know her, but they don't know anyone in this town.

My Mom came one day to spend time with the boys and clean out the litterbox. He knows my mom and likes her and enjoyed her visit. (She drove from 2 hours away to do this, which is why she couldn't feed them or stay with them.) When I got back I noticed some tufts of fur I didn't think had been there before. I watched him and determined that he is pulling it out again.

He still is, a week and a half later, and I'm so upset and worried. The patches are red again, but watching it this time, I've determined that the redness is just him irritating the skin biting at it. He seems to be scratching a lot, but there are definitely no fleas. I think I just stressed him out by being gone so long and he reverted back to this and now he can't stop.

I'm looking into getting Feliway, but I was wondering if there was anything else anyone could suggest to destress him. I've been giving him a lot of attention, but that doesn't seem to help the problem.

Also, can cats have OCD? I have this thing called trichotillomania, which is related to OCD, and it's this thing that causes me to pull out my hair. Trust me, the irony of the situation has completely washed over me. But I'm curious if cats can also have what I have.

post #2 of 8
Aw, I'm sorry your kitty's going through this... I do believe that cats can be OCD, I *think* some people on here have some experience with it (I seem to remember a few threads containing OCD titles)... I haven't dealt with this specifically, but when I owned birds, I had a parakeet that plucked her entire chest bare - the vet determined it was hormonal and with a few hormone injections she was ok... I don't know if that'd be possible with cats too, but your story made me think of my bird's experience... I assume the vet has ruled out any type of skin disease/irritation? (Sorry, I didn't entirely read through your previous threads... I'm fixin to get into bed shortly, haha)... I would invest in some feliway at least to possibly help until there's a solid diagnosis... good luck!
post #3 of 8
Sorry to hear your kitties irritation!I briefly checked your other posts, so forgive if I repeat things......
First of all it is great you had a vet check for this, this obviously excludes a lot of fears such as infection. It is not uncommon for cats to have skin disorders just like us, such as psoriasis. I don't know where you live and what your climate is like in your home, but dry air or extreme humidity can cause such to flare up. Stress also causes flare ups, but if you can figure out the best surroundings to neutralize the symptom, the less likely it is to be a stress disorder.
I had a beloved kitty, Pandi, who had a skin problem that the vets couldn't figure out. She would get scabby blotches, up to 1/2", where the fur would come off in chunks. It was very itchy for her and there would be bald patches. As son as I got a humidifier and maintained a stable humidity between 40-60% humidity in the home, it stopped! AC in the summer and humidifier in the winter worked for me......................
You need to think of everything from food, litter, food bowl, litter box, common sleep area, all could be a possible allergen. An air purifier is also a big help with this.
It is possible for animals to be OCD, but it is more likely for it to stem from some irritant. Something that provokes the behavior repeatedly, then after a while it becomes a routine without stimulant. This is why it is essential to figure out the stimulant before hand! Keep us in touch!
post #4 of 8
If the hairless patches are looking red and irritated I would ask the vet about getting a cortisone cream for it or something like that. Basically the spots can get very itchy then which makes the cats lick and bite at them more which makes them more itchy and sore. It's a vicious cycle. One of the ways to try to break it is to get topical soothing anti-itch medication.

This is especially bad if the spots stay moist from all the licking and it's in an area that doesn't dry quickly (like in an armpit) then infection is almost guaranteed to set in.

Talk to the vet asap, if that's what wrong it will only get worse the longer you wait.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody, I appreciate it!

Buzby, yeah, the vet figured out it wasn't some kind of skin disease or irritation thereof. He didn't really know what it was, and thought it might be a bacterial infection. Possum has this pattern on his back that is apparently a classic past flea infestation sign, but since he was in good foster care for his whole life, I'm beginning to think that he did that. He was starting to pull fur from that area right before I took him to the vet the second time after the Clavamox didn't work. The vet really couldn't diagnose the problem as a medical problem, so now I'm thinking it's all in Possum's head.

Cheylink, it is quite humid here, but I have the AC on, and he and his brother are strictly indoor cats. I had toyed with the notion that the AC could be giving him dry skin and making it itchy. I live in the Midwest (Missouri), and the humidity has been very high lately. I will look into the skin disorder idea; I hadn't thought of that, although I can rule out psoriasis if it looks anything like the human kind. My mother has it, and it doesn't look like that. Not that that is the only skin disease out there. Nothing has changed, except me leaving for an extended period and having someone else come in and feed them, so I really think that was the trigger.

Siggav, the areas aren't completely red this time around, just little spots here and there. However, since it happened the last time, I know they are probably headed in that direction. So thank you so much, I didn't know about Cortisone topical cream. Possum won't like it, but he'll just have to bear with it. I had thought about the itching because of my personal experiences, and was concerned about that vicious cycle.

post #6 of 8
I've had my cat overgroom one area on her inner right foreleg. The first time it happened the vet gave me the cream to put on it to stop it itching, the cream was also antibacterial so would help with any infections that might happen. It has a strong steroid in it so I had to wear gloves so it wouldn't get into my skin when putting it on her twice a day for 5 days. That was enough to stop the infection and the itching and the hair grew back after that. I also got very careful with her diet, used a feliway diffuser and spent even more time with her.

The overgrooming sort of came back a short while ago, I talked to the vet and since I still had the cream from last time they told me to use it again 2x a day for 5 days and get a refill of feliway and it has done the trick. She's not overgrooming the spot, the skin is healthy there and the hair is starting to grow back.

We're thinking now that it's pork allergies with Nikita, I'd started giving her some pork again around 10 days before it came back. It's hard to tell always though. I'm just happy she's getting better again.

All vets are different of course but that cream really helped Nikita.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
I was able to go to the vet this morning and Possum got a shot. The medicine was Depo-medrol (apparently, that was the medicine given to him the last time, I just thought it was Cortisone), so hopefully it will work as well again.

I use Revolution on both kitties every month, and he thought it was unlikely (because of that) that there would be fleas, but he checked just to be sure, and didn't find any. He agreed with me that Possum must be the cause of the fur loss since the areas that he can't reach with his mouth look (and feel) fantastic.

I talked to my vet about Feliway, and he thought that the benefits might be minimal considering how well Possum is doing with me. So, now I'm wondering if Feliway can be used as needed (like if I'm going to be out of town and I can't bring them with me, etc.).

Since he came to me in March, Possum has come out of his shell so much! He's beginning to warm up to people faster, and is beginning to trust people. He's just not as scared anymore, and when he does get scared, it's for not as long. Today, while in the examining room, he actually explored a little bit! Previously, he curled up close to me for safety (he still did this, but it makes me feel needed and special that I'm his "safety blanket), or he huddles in the back of his cat carrier. We closed the carrier today because it's difficult to get him back out, and it needlessly upsets him. But he was so good and brave today! I'm so proud of him!

post #8 of 8
If you can afford it I would get the feliway diffuser. You just can't tell how well it'll work until you try it and I don't see any reason not to do it if you have a cat that's a bit stressed or nervous except for money.

It's not a drug for cats or anything like that, what it does is basically make them feel more comfortable and less stressed by making them feel as if the whole house has been scent marked in their favour. That's why it can help stop spraying in cats that spray. I.e with the feliway they feel as if the area has been marked already with the facial cat pheromones (that's the marking by rubbing against things type of marking) so they don't need to add to it by spraying.

It doesn't work in all cats and the occasional cat reacts to it as if there's another cat around but that's *very* rare.

Anyway if he's a bit of a scaredy cat the feliway should help him feel better, it's no drastic medicaton or anything, just a diffuser you plug in and then forget about until it runs out (takes around a month) it might very well help him, not just with the overgrooming but with overall stress level and feeling really at home.
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