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Cat licking/scratching himself bald

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
This post is about Kipper's brother Gary, who resides with my parents and younger siblings. He is 4 years old, a medium-haired tuxedo who weighs a little over 20 punds. He does have a vet appointment for Wednesday, but I am just trying to get some insight until then.

For several weeks now Gary has been wearing an Elizabethan Collar to prevent him from doing this. He has had this problem before but his hair grew back after wearing the cone for a while and when they took it off he just didn't do it anymore.

What he does is he licks his bum, tail, and front paws until they are bald then scratches his neck and chin until not only are those areas bald, but also bleeding. It seems to be much worse than last time. The hair isn't growing back and if the collar is removed he licks and scratches obsessively. At first they were taking the collar off for feedings but instead of eating he would just "groom" himself, so they leave it on constantly now and he had to learn to eat with it. They have used oinments and creams on the skin itself, and also used an oral kitty benedryl. He slept alot on the benedryl but continued the behavior immediately upon waking up. There doesn't seem to be any kind of visible rash on the skin, though I can't see the skin around his neck and chin because it is completely scabbed over.

No idea what it is, as he didn't have to go to the vet last time this happened. He got out this past spring and was missing for about 3 months. Apparently he had been on their property all along but the area is heavily wooded so they never saw him. The only reason he is home now is thanks to the family dog, who spotted him and chased him up a tree. My dad heard the barking and went outside and when he saw it was Gary in the tree he coaxed him down and brought him in the house. My dad is worried that maybe he got something when he was MIA but I don't think so given that this has happened before.

I should mention that their other cat Roxy (my cat that they won't return ) is fine, and the last time that this happened, Kipper and the third brother Klein (who recently passed away) were around too, and none of them ever had any symptoms. That leads me to believe that whatever it is, it isn't contagious, therefore reinforcing my theory that he didn't catch something while he was outside. It has been months since he came home, too, so it's not that he brushed against poison oak or something either.

Anybody ever have this happen? What did it turn out to be?

I just really hope it's something very minor and non-life-threatening, and preferably something that isn't very costly to treat because my brother and sister may not have a Christmas if it is.

Vibes for Gary and my family.
post #2 of 8
Food allergy? Fleas?
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschauer View Post
Food allergy? Fleas?
Kipper has an allergy to fleas but not like what's going on with Gary. It's possible, but my parents treat for fleas. They use a really good (really expensive) medicine, but I'm not sure what it's called. As for the food they've used nothing but Purina Indoor Formula ever since we got the cats 4 years ago. I've never had any experince with food allergies, but does it come and go like this, given that he's eaten the same food his whole life?
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mira's_mommy View Post
Kipper has an allergy to fleas but not like what's going on with Gary. It's possible, but my parents treat for fleas. They use a really good (really expensive) medicine, but I'm not sure what it's called. As for the food they've used nothing but Purina Indoor Formula ever since we got the cats 4 years ago. I've never had any experince with food allergies, but does it come and go like this, given that he's eaten the same food his whole life?
Is it really always the same food? Same flavor? Food allergies don't come and go. If he is always eating *exactly* the same thing then it isn't a food allergy.

If Kipper is sensitive to fleas and isn't having a problem then it probably isn't fleas either. I would still give him a good going over with a flea comb though. Could be he has developed a flea allergy in which case a single flea could make him scratch like mad even if a flea prevention is being used.

I'd be interested in what the vet says.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschauer View Post
If Kipper is sensitive to fleas and isn't having a problem then it probably isn't fleas either. I would still give him a good going over with a flea comb though. Could be he has developed a flea allergy in which case it a single flea could make him scratch like mad even if a flea prevention is being used.
Hmmm. I'll let them know that. It's still possible because Kipper lives with me and not them anymore, and they live in a much more rural area. They've always struggled with fleas where they live, so even if I don't have fleas right now they might.
post #6 of 8
I know someone who's cat was scratching at his head so bad he went bald. Turned out to be ringworm which was surprising because he's an indoor only cat.
post #7 of 8
Cats can develop a food allergy to something they have eaten their whole lives. Trust me, I went thru it last year. According to what my vet told me, the #1 allergen in food is corn, followed by tuna. I eliminated corn and tuna, and haven't had any problems since. The purina you are feeding is probably mainly corn (look at the ingredients though). I went with Purina Pro Plan select, which is corn free. You have to get it at pet supply stores (like PetSmart) It is expensive, but there are coupons at ProPlan.com. It may be worth a try(?). In the mean time, your vet can give a shot of Cortizone that will stop the scratching immediately. All of this is of course is if it is a food allergy, fleas my be the culprate as everyone else has stated. Just wanted to let you know about my first hand experience.
Good Luck!
Bobby
and the Gang
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies everyone!

I just talked to my dad about Gary's vet appointment. There isn't a flea on him, or on Roxy either who went for shots today too, so the vet doesn't think it's that. He said most likely he is just allergic to something in his food.

My dad told me that last time Gary was like this, it was in the middle of a bad flea infestation which I had forgotten but that sheds some light on that episode. I guess the reason he just stopped doing it like I said was because my parents switched from using just a Wal-Mart brand of flea preventative to using the really good stuff they have now.

But to save some money since it's Christmas time, my dad opted not to run any tests to help narrow down what it is. Instead, the vet just gave Gary a Cortisone shot that should last for 5 to 6 weeks and gave my dad instructions for changing his food and told him what the leading food allergies are so that he could find something that didn't have any of them in it.
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