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Excessive Grooming

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have the sweetest calico who is excessively grooming herself. It began last November, but didn't become a real problem until around February. I was gone from January through March. My daughter, who my 2 cats love, took care of them while living at my house. I thought if it was stress related that when I returned home and I showered her with attention she would stop. Although I gave her loads of attention she continued licking, so in June I took her to the vets. He didn't find any evidence of mites, fleas, fungus, etc. and thought it was allergy related. She received a strong dose of Depo-medrol which made her lethargic for 3 weeks, during which there was no excessive licking. But then it began again. Since then she has had 2 more injections of Depo-medrol and put on a diet of goose and potatoes for 8 weeks now. Her licking and nibbling has gotten worse. Her belly and thighs are bald and her one side is getting there. She is now working on her back. Has anyone's cat experienced this kind of behavior and might it continue until she has no fur at all? I can hardly stand to see her do this. Maybe I should try another vet? Could it be psychological?
post #2 of 9
Many times it is a food allergy. Did your vet expand on the allergy aspect at all? You may want to find one that has more experience with food allergies.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
The vet suggested avoidance of all store bought pet food and treats. So I have been making her homemade food of goose and potatoes - that is all she has eaten for 8 weeks. He said it could take 8 - 10 weeks to eliminate any food allergen, so I was expecting around week 8 to see an improvement. Alas, not the case.
post #4 of 9
Making homemade foods for cats can be very difficult to get right. There are a bunch of nutrients that cats need to get that aren't in basic meats and veggies. Do you have lots of extra bits that you put into the food you make for her? (i.e she'd be needing some organs and extra calcium or bones and stuff like that)

It sounds to me like it might be a psychological thing since it started when she might have been going through some stress. I would invest in a Feliway diffuser, it can really help cats calm down and feel more secure and less stressed. It doesn't work on every single cat but it works on most and it can really make a big difference.

It's not a drug per se, how it works is that it's basically artificial facial pheromones for cats. Cats are very territorial and mark their core area with their facial pheromones (by rubbing their cheeks against things) and when you run a feliway diffuser the cat feels like the area that the feliway affects has been really well marked already and is very safe and secure so they don't need to stress about it. It can also help cats get along because every cat feels as if the area has been marked really well by themselves.

I wouldn't turn away from the potential food allergy angle though since it might be that. If you're worried about your homemade food not being good enough for her or too much work for you to keep doing there are several very good premade foods you can buy. I'm not a nutrition expert though, there are some on this board though.

My cat has now a few times had an episode of over grooming. In her it manifests as her licking over and over the same spot on her inner arm. It becomes bald and infected and she just keeps going at the same thumb print sized spot, so it doesn't spread at all but becomes a sore. In her case being careful with her diet and using a steroid antibacterial ointment has cleared it up in a week and the hair has started growing back shortly after that every time.

I'm quite certain it's allergies for her now and it seems to be pork and/or too processed food (i.e being given processed chicken slices as a treat).
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Wow. Thanks for the good advice Siggav. I will go to the pet store today and get the diffuser. It's definitely worth a try.

I will post for suggestions from the experts here for some good homemade recipes, but what might be some good cat foods to buy?
post #6 of 9
I'm glad to be of help, I did quite a lot of research into overgrooming problems in cats when it first happened to Nikita.

As for foods I'm currently feeding her dry Royal Canin as her dry food which a few people here are feeding and quite like. I don't know if they do any hypo-allergic foods though. Also I'm in the UK and the selection of cat food is a lot smaller here than in the States.

Feeding mostly wet is probably a bit healthier since you get more fluids into the cat that way but I like being able to free feed and feed her food through puzzle balls (small hollow balls with a hole that the kibble can fall out when the ball is nudged) since Nikita is a *very* active cat and I need all the help I can get in keeping her occupied.
post #7 of 9
I know what the vet told you. But it's a scientific fact that cats lack the enzymes to digest starches and sugars. A potato is almost pure starch.

Feed her only meat for a while. Get some brewer's yeast and sprinkle it or mix it into her food. I have seen this kind of diet do wonders, and yes, it does sound like a food allergy.
post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by smalecd View Post
Wow. Thanks for the good advice Siggav. I will go to the pet store today and get the diffuser. It's definitely worth a try.

I will post for suggestions from the experts here for some good homemade recipes, but what might be some good cat foods to buy?
A good alternative to homemade food that will be nutritionally complete is Evo canned food. You can get it at mostly small pet shops. You can go to their site and search for a store near you. It's made by a company named Natura and they make a number of pet foods. Any would be good. Here's a link to their web site.

post #9 of 9
If you're going to do an allergy food trial, I think you should go with a non-homemade catfood. Natural Balance's allergy food is excellent and my cat seemed to love eating it and did well on it (though it turned out he didn't have allergies). Or you can use a prescription allergy food from the vet. Particularly since dietary deficiencies could make your cat's condition worse, I wouldn't try homemade diet.

Some cats groom too much because they are bored. But it sounds like it's much worse in your cat's case. She could be exhibiting obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which case a medication like Prozac would be the answer.

But allergies are also a likely culprit.
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