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Stressed cat??

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I am a first time poster, and I will apologize right away for this might be long. I have a 12-year old cat, who for the most part has been a wonderfully healthy cat. Over the past few weeks, there have been some symptoms/issues...none of them serious on their own but added up are making me crazy. I have called or visited the vet 4 times in the past month and I am beginning to believe that I am the one that needs to be medicated. Their only conclusion, and they are sticking to it, is stress. My b/f has been traveling for the past month, so they think my cat, Autumn, might be missing him. Anyway, let me know if this all sounds like stress to you and I should just chill out.

It all started with an inflamed patch of skin on his belly...pink, crusty, hair loss. Vet found no critters and decided that it was likely an allergic reaction. Autumn was given an anti-inflammatory injection and that patch cleared up...still naked there though. I noticed some weight over the next week...he dropped 6 ounces in less than a week without any vomiting. (I monitor his weight carefully because I think he is too skinny to begin with...weighed 12 pounds 3 years ago and now weighs 9 pounds). Plus, he just wasn't acting himself...he usually follows me everywhere, sleeps on my pillow and won't leave my lap for anything, but he started hiding and ignoring me. So, I took him back to the vet for a blood test...everything came back normal. Since that visit, he has stopped grooming his back (it's like an oil slick), his weight keeps bouncing around, he is losing tufts of fur (no bald spots, just thinning fur), he has sweaty pads, and I have found a couple of scabs around his head (could be from "playing" with his sister). His personality is somewhat more normal this week...he hangs out on my lap and sleeps with me again but is still more aloof than usual.

Any thoughts? Stress, allergies, critters (maybe the vet missed it), ringworm, etc? Please feel free to tell me that I am a crazy woman. This cat (along with my other cat Onyx) mean the world to me and I am just not willing to take any chances, but I am soon going to lose credibility with my vet's office (the boy who cried wolf analogy would apply).

My b/f will be home tomorrow, so we can obviously see if there are any improvements over the next week.

post #2 of 7
Hi Sara,

Welcome to the board. I wonder is your cat drinking more water than usual? Some of what your describe could be early onset Diabetes mellitus, operative word is could be, so don't panic. I have a feeling you tend to panic a bit. As a cat gets older, their hair will thin out and even get brittle and break off easier than when they are in their youth. If you are stressed, your cat will pick that up as well and add it to the problem at hand, so you need to relax a bit when you are around him. Did the vet do a skin scraping? Did he check the cat with a uv light to rule out ringworm and other parasites? Is Autumn treated regularly for fleas? Just 4 vet visits in one month is enough to stress out even the most laid back cat. What are you feeding? Is the food perhaps packed with corn and grain which can cause allergies? Royal Canin makes a really good blend of food for hair and coat, you might want to try and switch Autumn gradually over to that and see if that helps?

Cats like routines, they fall into them easily and when they are disrupted, many cats react in various ways. It is really hard to say sometimes what the stress factor is, you just have to play detective to find out.

Also check your PM's (private messages) please...
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hissy to answer your questions: No, he is not drinking more water than usual. I don't know if what the vet did was a skin scraping. He took a fine toothed comb across the back a couple of times and then looked at what came up. Is that a skin scrape? Also, no uv light while I was there. I had to leave him for the day when he got the blood drawn, so they might have done that when I wasn't there. They tell me that they have ruled out medical ailments (FIP, leukemia, kidney function, liver function, etc). Autumn is not treated for fleas but he is an indoor cat. He only goes outside in my arms on our deck. Also, my other cat, Onyx, has not been having any problems. If it were a ringworm thing, then wouldn't my other cat and I be having problems too? The food has not changed recently. They eat meow mix crunchy, though his interest in that has decreased. And I give them canned Fancy Feast. They used to eat Iams about a year ago, but they were really finicky about it. I have been contemplating a more special diet (my other cat is a bit fat), but don't want to add anything new right now.

I should clarify that Autumn has only been to the vet 2x in the past month. I have spoken to the vets on a few other occasions without taking Autumn there. In response to your comment that "As a cat gets older, their hair will thin out and even get brittle and break off easier than when they are in their youth," I should clarify that he is losing tufts of fur...dozens of fluffy soft hairs still attached together by a scab or a piece of skin.

Also, contrary to my post, I am not usually a panicky person. Autumn is a very special cat. He is very easy going, he adapts to anything and everyone. He loves meeting new people. He loves storms. He loves going for car rides. He loves going to new places. He loves to show off for everybody by walking around on his leash like a dog. He is absolutely the most adaptable easy going happy cat ever. Nothing has ever stressed him out before. So these behaviour changes are new to me and a little distressing.

Does this lead to you any other possible conclusions or questions?
post #4 of 7
A skin scraping is when the vet takes a razor blade and scrapes the skin of the cat. It is not pleasant, but it is over quite quickly and sometimes the vet is able to find answers under the microscope. If your cat has ringworm, chances are you would have it as well (unless you are not petting and touching Autumn, and your other cat would also have it, as it is extremely contagious.

Fleas (especially during this time of year) do find their way indoors. They want out of the cold so they attach to your shoes, your pantsleg, and they ride in then burrow in your carpet, ultimately getting on your pet.

MeowMix is not the best food for an older cat. They love the stuff, my vet calls it Kitty Junk Food, he also says the same about Fancy Feast..(sorry) You might think about switching to a special blend like Royal Canin makes, and see if that helps. Also is he pulling his hair out- or is it falling out on it's own?
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
It does not appear to me that he is pulling them out. I usually find a couple on the carpet around the apartment and then some will come out in my hands while I am petting him or brushing him. He has a scab on the left side of his head and I can tell that there will be some clumps of fur falling out with that.

I will definitely look into changing their food soon. It is a difficult process because he is 12 and she is 6; he is skinny and she is plump; he'll eat anything and she is picky. Plus, he has a sensitive stomach to some foods. I don't want to change it right in the middle of this though, plus he is due for his dental cleaning, so maybe I'll transition them after that.

All good questions. I lean away from fleas only because I have not seen a single flea anywhere, and no flea dirt. I have no experience with ringworm, so I am at a loss on that one. Onyx shows no symptoms though. Other parasites would also probably evade my detection. The fact that Onyx does not have any of these same problems makes me doubt parasites or critters.

Thanks Hissy!
post #6 of 7
Perhaps this website will help you determine what it might be?

Feline Advisory
post #7 of 7
The first thing you can do is to get the cat on a nutricional diet, amazing what a good food, like Nutro Natural Choice can do for skin and fur health, not to mention all the other health benefits. I am sorry that this is frustrating and how much you love your cat. Sometimes another vet might shed some light on the situation. Good luck!
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