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self-mutilation scratching

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ok Ill give some back story on this to help make her story clear, and since Im new here. I have a 10 year old mainne coon named Cocoa. Ive picked him out of my friends litter the day he was born and had him since he was weaned, we are a great team and very close.

Cocoa and I have an unofficial arrangement. He is allowed outside whenever he wants (hes large and healthy and smart). He will sometimes find a stray he is in bad shape. He brings these strays home, sometimes meowing for them to follow, sometimes outright carrying them. I get them fixed up, and together we get them used to contact, then we find them another home. Usually Cocoa limits our outreach to one stray at a time.

He brought home Nala, a feral female tabby, and she had just about every parasite possible. She had torn herself up and was pregnant at a very young age. I didnt know she was pregnant and started taking care of her parasites immediatly. Sadly, she miscarried. I think this would have happened anyway, she was way to small and unhealthy to carry.

Anyway, got her all better, no parasites or health issues, and we decided to keep her. She no longer goes outside, and it seems as long as Cocoa is on advantage, no fleas come in the house to worry about. The only thing is, she continued to scratch her neck and back of her head open once in a while.

She has never got infected from them. Ive sometimes just kept an eye on her, sometimes vets have put her on antibiotics, we've changed her food, litter, and Ive tried grooming her and trimming her nails. Nothing helps.

She stopped doing it for a while after the sneaky devil ran outside and got knocked up while I was worrying about other health issues for her before getting her fixed (didnt want her sedated, couldnt put Ecollar on with open neck wounds, ect) once she had her kitten (only 1 lived, the rest stillborn) she spent all her time lovin on him and stopped tearing herself up for a while. She completely healed.

We still have her baby (Yandros), and they are still lovey, but for some reason she has started the scratching again. I cant see anything stressing her or any changes since she healed. I tried softpaws but she just pushes harder and since shes already got open wounds, just tears them worse. All the vet can suggest is antibiotics and worry if theres infection.

I really hate the idea of declawing, but at this point, I think removing her back claws may be the only option I have left. Does anyone have any suggestions before I get that desperate? Thanks in advance!

(by the way baby pics of Yandros, as well as some of Cocoa and Nala can be seen on myspace under "yandrosthekitten"
post #2 of 21
Seems you and Cocoa make a great team! Declawing will not help. If Nala is determined to scratch, she will find a way. She could definitely still rub the areas raw or find a corner or some other tool to scratch with. Declawing may very well lead to other, worse behavioral issues.

I don't have any helpful hints other than perhaps trying Flower Essences and/or Feliway. I am sure others with more experience will be along soon. Welcome to the site and please do post photos when you can
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bonnie. I dont think feliway would help, since shes using her own softpaw covered claws to scratch her neck. I cant spray her claws with it I think Ill do an introduction thread somewhere and put up the pics I have now, sadly no digi cam to get pics of the poor girls neck (or adolescent pics of Yandros)
post #4 of 21
Thats a tough one!! Can you try an anti anxiety med for her perhaps?? Im just grasping at straws, but when BooBoo got real stressed out I put him on HP Anxiety (HomeoPet Anxiety) And it seems to really help!! It was fairly cheap and I got it at the vet, but what I like is it is homeopathic! This kind of stuff doesn't work for every cat though.... Is there anyway when you get her healed up you can put a e-collar on her so she doesn't scratch? Maybe she could be tought that if she scratches she'll have to wear the collar??
Im sure someone more knowledgable will be along shortly!! Good luck!
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Its really strange because she doesnt seem stressed at all. Nothing changed in her life since her period of non-scratching except her baby grew up a bit. But hes still with us and still cuddles with her the same.

I think its a mental thing because of all the fleas she had when I got her. She was all tore up then, with good reason. I think she gave herself scars maybe that sometimes itch and she tears up the same spots.

The collar thing is a good idea, if I can just get her to leave her neck alone long enough I can put one on her. Ill have to seperate her from baby though, Im sure he will find a way to remove it if it bothers her.

Im wondering if only declawing the rear would have the psychological issues removing the front have? I know its horrible, but I think its worse to have open wounds all over all the time.
post #6 of 21
Since you mentioned changing food (in your first post I believe), would you mind very much if I asked what are you feeding now and how many different foods and what kinds (wet or dry) have you tried? And, would you be willing to try a few more things with food?
Did your vet ever do a skin scraping?
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet View Post
Since you mentioned changing food (in your first post I believe), would you mind very much if I asked what are you feeding now and how many different foods and what kinds (wet or dry) have you tried? And, would you be willing to try a few more things with food?
Did your vet ever do a skin scraping?

Common cat allergies in food : fish , wheat ,soy
also a vet visit or a talk with the vet about some anti axiety meds ... I had to put a dog on them once and it was a lifesaver
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Vet never did scraping because it was assumed to not be an alergy, due to her scratching being very localized. She shaved fur around woulds, put antisceptic on them, bandages (dont work well on faces) and gave antibiotics. Based on what she did, I started treating Nala at home and have never seen any signs of the wounds becoming septic. From time to time she will stop and heal, then just randomly start again.

Her food has gone from store brand to science diet to authority (from petsmart) which she eats now. Shes not a human food thief, like her son.

I dont have any collars on her, and shes not on any medicine now. Again Im doubting its alergy related because its ONLY her neck and face she scratches. I think its mental because when she was feral she was so badly infested with fleas, or maybe scars that she keeps reopening.

I really like the idea of using an Ecollar to try to train her, Im hoping that will work. Ill have to bandage her neck before I can put one on, Ill keep you updated, and thanks all!
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by indigowulf View Post
Vet never did scraping because it was assumed to not be an alergy, due to her scratching being very localized. She shaved fur around woulds, put antisceptic on them, bandages (dont work well on faces) and gave antibiotics. Based on what she did, I started treating Nala at home and have never seen any signs of the wounds becoming septic. From time to time she will stop and heal, then just randomly start again.

Her food has gone from store brand to science diet to authority (from petsmart) which she eats now. Shes not a human food thief, like her son.

I dont have any collars on her, and shes not on any medicine now. Again Im doubting its alergy related because its ONLY her neck and face she scratches. I think its mental because when she was feral she was so badly infested with fleas, or maybe scars that she keeps reopening.

I really like the idea of using an Ecollar to try to train her, Im hoping that will work. Ill have to bandage her neck before I can put one on, Ill keep you updated, and thanks all!
check her food for fish , wheat and soy.... food allergies mainfest in different ways but yes scratching head and neck would be classic... have you tried a soft version of a e collar??
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
NOne of the above are found in Authority® Adult Chicken Cat Food, which I use. I hadnt tried any collar for fear of making things worse, had really hoped the softpaws would do the trick, but will try it now!
post #11 of 21
is there corn of any kind in her food??? it is not the main allergy food for cats but it can be ..

how big is she?? wt wise ??
post #12 of 21
Food allergies in cats can show themselves in very localized ways. I think that's actually more common than it showing up all over. I.e the cat is itching and/or stressed because of the allergies but they choose just a few places to worry at rather than their entire body.

I would try feliway. You don't spray it on the cat. It's a diffuser you plug into an electric outlet in your home and it releases synthetic cat pheromones that tell the cat that the area is well marked and that they are safe there. It's not a drug, it's more like good food and a cozy blanket in front of a fire when it's cold outside for humans.

It's rather expensive but one refill lasts roughly for a month and it can take up to 4 weeks to see a difference so I'd get one and hopefully it'll help.

I don't think declawing her back feet would help. She'd probably just scratch extra hard with her toes and maybe hurt her toes and her neck from it so you'd be dealing with wounds on more places.

If it's a behavioural OCD type behaviour there are meds that can help. Just like humans with OCD can have meds that help.

Another thought as well, could she be bored? You say it got better when she was busy with a kitten. How much do you play with her a day etc.? It might be worth it trying to play a lot more with her and make sure her environment is stimulating enough (I'm not saying it's not stimulating now but there is the occasional indoor cat that needs really a lot of extra work to be thriving indoors, I'm living with one so I'm familiar with that whole thing)
post #13 of 21
In addition to looking into allergies (which commonly appear as scratching of the head and neck), I think a skin scraping should be done. There have been cases of rare parasites that only a skin scraping would detect.

In the meantime, cats can stress for no apparent reason. Cats that have been fine for years and no changes apparent to the people that live with them can stress. Who knows what causes it? Assuming it's stress and not allergies or a skin parasite (which I wouldn't actually assume - I'd work on finding out), there are steps you can take to help her that do not include mutilating her back feet (which I know you don't want to do if you can avoid it) - which may not work out the way you plan or hope.

I would give her extra love and attention. An extra 10 - 15 minutes of play time both morning and evening at a minimum. Extra love and pets, if that's something she enjoys. I would purchase the Feliway. It is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks. It is available as a plug-in, like an air freshener that only cats can smell. It is also available as a spray. It does not damage or stain wood or furniture, and needs to be sprayed every three days or so. It can really help a stressed kitty.

I would also consider purchasing some type of flower essences or, as someone suggested above, the HomeoPet Anxiety remedy. I don't know where you can obtain that, but you can obtain the calming flower essences and the feliway at http://www.catfaeries.com.

I don't know if this will help, but in the meantime you may want to consider cutting off the end of a tube sock and measuring the rest of it and cutting it to the right length, but you can slip that over her head to cover her neck. Don't know if it will help with her situation, but when our Flowerbelle had surgery, it prevented the need for a collar.

I would continue to eliminate different foods from her diet to see if it's an allergy. There have been cats allergic to chicken (among the other foods already listed in the thread). And I would have the vet check for skin parasites.

But with the extra play, the Feliway, a calming remedy (or the Homeopathic Anxiety remedy), you may find her obsessive scratching diminishes.

We had a stressed kitty that exhibited the problem with peeing outside the box. After extensive steps to correct the situation (having eliminated medical reasons for the problem), we had to resort to retraining her - meaning confining her to a small room. I spent almost the entire day in there with her - and she started obsessively licking. I could not stop her. Bald spots on her side and hindquarters. We went with an anti-anxiety medication. It stopped both problems - the peeing and the licking. We weaned her off of it after 4 months, and the problems haven't returned in 3 years now.

So if none of these suggestions or ideas works, and you've elminited allergies and skin parasites as a cause of the problem, you may want to consider talking to the vet about an anti-anxiety medication like Buspar or Amitryptaline or something. I certainly think something like this is worth a try before having her back claws removed. I cannot imagine a vet that would recommend declawing over at least trying anti-anxiety medication first.

I hope you find a solution to help your kitty!

Laurie
post #14 of 21
post #15 of 21
sounds like an allergy. My friends dog has a disorder where if he gets bit by one flee....he will itch for hours. Maybe your cat has something like that =\\
post #16 of 21
My cat does the same thing. Now he got a lesion on his head.
I have no clue why he is going it and the vet seems to not know either.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
!!!
I just noticed one of my pet mice (who are given the same cat food as chew treats) is also scratching his ears bloody, which he never has before and has eaten it for almost a year now...

This is leading my to think perhaps Authority changed something in their formula! This bag is almost gone, will be switching as soon as its gone. My cats know better then being finicky, cuz they dont like going hungry lol.

Thanks everyone for everything, I think problem has been found. Stupid cat food company should have to announce when they change things. I cant see anything else that would effect both animals, since the mice are isolated from the cats.

That or its the water... also going to try filtered or bottled water, and force her to stop drinking from dripping faucets.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by indigowulf View Post
!!!
I just noticed one of my pet mice (who are given the same cat food as chew treats) is also scratching his ears bloody, which he never has before and has eaten it for almost a year now...

This is leading my to think perhaps Authority changed something in their formula! This bag is almost gone, will be switching as soon as its gone. My cats know better then being finicky, cuz they dont like going hungry lol.

Thanks everyone for everything, I think problem has been found. Stupid cat food company should have to announce when they change things. I cant see anything else that would effect both animals, since the mice are isolated from the cats.

That or its the water... also going to try filtered or bottled water, and force her to stop drinking from dripping faucets.
One hello from the other side of the Spokane river ... I am in North Idaho ...

remember NO distilled water ...

Authority did change formulas a few months ago
post #19 of 21
This is a great thread! I, too, really appreciate the replies to the OP, as I think my cat has a very very similar problem (just started scratching again a couple of days ago and is in the ecollar now!).

It's nice to know I'm not alone with this frustrating problem!
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Just an update, One side of Nala's neck is completely healed already and the fur growing back in, the other side is closing nicely. I had not yet run out of the cat food so it wasnt a switch. The only thing I did different... found out the little sneak was drinking out of the *toilet* which, of course, has been cleaned with things cats shouldnt drink. We started keeping the toilet lid closed and she cleaned right up. Looking back on it, I normally keep the lid down, but there have been times Ive had roommates or guests that dont. Im cheap sometimes, I clean the toilet with a thing from the dollar store thats like a brillo pad on a brush. Since about 2 days after the first post here, Ive had the lid down, and already shes showing vast improvement.

Not sure what happened with Lucky (the mouse) but he only scratched at himself 1 time so I guess not related.
post #21 of 21
This is fantastic, great news. We keep the lid down, so never in a million years would I have thought of the toilet as the source of the problem. If this is really it, I'm very happy for you.
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