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is my cat neurotic?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
my husband and i took in a two-year-old male stray back in august. he had some issues in getting along with our two cats when we brought him in, but they have all pretty much gotten over it.

now, however, we are having an issue with onyx that we didn't expect. he has a compulsive habit of licking himself bald, and of scratching. he has lost hair on the inside of both front legs, the top of his head, the base of his ears, the sides of his shoulders, and there is a very large, weird-shaped patch between his shoulder blades, as well. he also has a large patch of scabbing on his rump, but no hair loss there. the constant grooming has caused him to constantly have hairballs, as well, and some of the over-groomed patches have soft scabs over them- i guess from the overabundant abrasion from his tounge.

we've taken him to the vet, and they've checked him for fleas, parasites, mange, and a host of other issues. we don't have any fleas, and all the tests came up negative. additionally, the other two cats aren't having any issues at all, and they're not even harassing him any more. we can't find any physical reason for this behavior. we're pretty much at our wits' end, and my heart is breaking, seeing what's happening to him.
post #2 of 20
He's either got an allergy to something in his environment (if not his food, which it could well be) or something serious, and I'd definitely get a second opinion. He'll probably need to go on corticosteroids to clear it up, but until the reason's found, it'll come back.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
allergies have been considered as a possibilty, but our vet doesn't think that's likely, because it didn't start with us. onyx had some of these same hairless patches when we brought him in. we (and the vet) thought is was from fleas, and we treated him for fleas accordingly, and the scratching and licking stopped, and the patches went away. they came back about a month or two later. the vet gave him a shot of something when we brought him in to look at it, and that seemed to clear it up- but now it's started again in earnest.

also, we have tried anti-stress tactics, such as feliway, toys, exercise, secluding him from the other two cats, extra love and atention and petting a grooming and such, we've changed his food, etc. again, nothing seems to work.
post #4 of 20
I'm not sure that I understand why the vet is inclined to rule out allergies just because Onyx had the bald patches when you adopted him. Why can't he have the same allergies in your home that he had when he was a stray?

Anyway, if allergies are not the cause, it could be that over time he has developed some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, where overgrooming has now become habitual, even though the original stimulus is (presumably) long gone. I've gotten the impression from numerous websites and forums that OCD is not all that uncommon in cats, and overgrooming is a frequent manifestation of it.

Sorry that I can't offer anything more definitive or hopeful. I do wish you the best of luck in solving this mystery though. Please keep us posted.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
he didn't rule allergies out entirely; i misspoke, and i apologize. i'm a little stressed out

the OCD is an interesting thought.... it could be possible....

i've also noticed, just now as i sit here looking at him, that's he's.... rocking back and forth a little O.o he's sitting up on his back feet with his tail wrapped around his legs, rocking back and forth slightly, almost like a mental patient in a movie >.>

*wonders if her cat has lost his mind*

anyway, i'm going to take him back to the vet as soon i can, but i have no cash right now. anyone have any suggestions for the time between now and then? it may be a good week until i can take him.....
post #6 of 20
From what I understand, cats (and dogs) can have mental or neurotic issues. We had a couple of cats come into shelter who were overgrooming as a reaction to stress. One had bald patches on his belly.

Cats can also have a condition called pica -where they eat strange things - like paper. A friend's cat has it. She didn't know what was wrong and I did a little internet research and told her. I am not sure what she is going to do about it.
post #7 of 20
Most of the skin problems that I've faced with mine were food allergy related. What were you feeding him previously and what did you switch him to? Was there wheat in both of them (a common culprit)?
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
well, when we first found him, he was eating the garbage out of the bags in the back of our truck. we know he was feeding from there for at least a week, cuz we saw him every day.

when we took him in, he was fed the same thing our cats are- kit'n kaboodle dry food, and whiskas canned food on occasion. we switched his food shortly after he came in because he was having issues with his tummy that resulted in big messes in the litter box. we switched him to the science diet for senstive stomachs. cleared his tummy troubles right up lol

i don't know if those have wheat in them, and i can't check cuz we store the food in plastic bins with lids, and throw the bags out.
post #9 of 20
It may be he is having more difficulties relaxing in your home then you think. It does sound like it could be stress provoked behavior. One suggestion for skin irritations is to regulate the humidity, it sounds weird but my beloved Pandi had scabby patches that would itch and then become bald spots. When I had a humidifier in the dry season, it stopped........
post #10 of 20
I would definitely not rule out stress. I have a friend whose little kitty completely licked and chewed the fur off of here legs. She was very anxious, having come from a home where her litter mate and the family dog had turned on her. She still suffered from some of this stress after moving in with my friend. Finally, she was put on anti-anxiety meds for a few months and it completely cleared things up!
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

by "regulate the humidity", you mean use a humidifier or dehumidifier, as the case may be?

also, i'm worried about the scabby part on his rump becoming infected; is it ok to bathe him with his skin like this? can i use their regular shampoo, or do i need to use something special?

so much to stress and worry about
post #12 of 20
You said the problem went away when you used flea meds, but then it returned - is it possible it returned because while the cat had been treated, the house wasn't? If the house is not properly taken care of, the fleas will return and torment the cat (though yours sounds like there might be another reason or two).
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
we don't have fleas in the house. we've looked, and looked, and looked... we have white couches and two other cats, and seen no sign of fleas- if we had them, we'd've noticed by now lol. we've not seen any on any of the three cats, nor have we seen any flea dirt or such. last time i took him in to the vet's, i had thought that his issue was flea allergy dermatitis. but the vet checked onyx and the other two cats over very thoroughly and confirmed that there are no fleas.
post #14 of 20
I've been sort of having the same problem, not as bad, though, with my boy Possum.

I don't think it was an allergy because it started 2 months after I had adopted him, and also, there was a certain fur pattern on his back which suggested a prior flea infestation, but it easily could have been him just pulling out the fur.

The vet can't figure it out. No fleas, no rashes, no weird skin stuff under the microscope. It goes away and flares up every month or two. I'm thinking of getting a humidifier for him.

Also, I had a question. How does Onyx groom the top of his head? Is he just rubbing it raw with his paw?

Good luck.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
i think he's doing it with his paw and with scratching.

his hair loss is in patterns, too, which is why i initially thought flea allergy dermatitis- symmetrical hair loss is a common sign of that.

let me see if i can get some pictures.... crappy cell phone camera >.>

here's the back of his neck and shoulders, where you can see how it's pretty symetrical...

and the inside of one of his front legs... the other looks pretty much the same. (that's his face on head on the right; he wouldn't stop licking to let me take the darn picture. >_> you can see, though, one of the spots on top of his head.)

post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
off to the vet's now.... onyx has licked almost his entire lower belly and the insides of all four legs bald, as well as the outside of both front shoulders, the sides of his chest, and more spots on his head and elbows..... additionally, his favortie spot on my WHITE FRICKIN' COUCH is almost completely black from shedded fur

crossing fingers and praying we find a solution today....

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
ok, well, looks like the vet is as clueless as we are. we've ruled out, based on onyx's behavior and the actual physical results of his behavior, that this is not related to any mental issues, beit stress, OCD, nerosis, etc.... we've also ruled out food and flea allergies, since changing the food did no good and there is still absolutely no sign of fleas anywhere. he is referring us to a veterinary dermatolgist- who happens to be a mile away from our vet, thank god- to do skin testing to see what else we can rule out. i'm freaking out now, cuz in reading over the pamphlet he gave us about the skin vet, i read that this can take up to SEVENTY separate injections for my poor kitty.... i pray to god that if it's any of those seventy items, it's one of the first ones he tests for!!!!

i don't know who's going to go bald first- onyx from licking himself, or me from stress and frustration!!!
post #18 of 20
I would say it sounds more like an allergy. Things you can change and regulate in your home would be the humidity level (It worked for one of my cats that had scabby bald patches), food, litter, even the tray and bowls you use, favorite sleeping place, could be a carpet or cleaner you use........Think of 5things like this and try changing them at different times, watch for stigmas.
As far as a topical or washing, it may relieve temporarily, but you need to find the source.
post #19 of 20
interesting thread.
that you find a remedy soon, sounds like kitty is quite uncomfortable.

keep us posted...
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
i just want to wash as much dead, itchy skin off of him as i can!!! i know it won't make it go away... i just feel bad for being so helpless... the funny thing is, i think jim and i are more upset and agitated by all this than he is..... other than the fact that he lays around licking all day, he's perfectly happy. he chirps and purrs as much as sid and zoe do, and he's still playful and demanding of affection and worship from the peoples. if it weren't for the fact that he's half bald now, you'd never suspect there was anything wrong with him lmao

as far as food and litter, cheylink, he had these issues before we brought him in, so he's been exposed to whatever it is before he started eating the food we give him(which we've changed once), and we've used two different litters since he came in as well. also, the vet says it's not a food allergy because food allergies don't respond to the shot he gave onyx, and the shot helped temporarily.

we're going to get to the bottom of this. and i'll keep ya'll updated.... mostly cuz i'll need a place to vent my frustrations to other than my poor husband
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