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young cat's fur turning more white, looks old... - cause?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've posted here a few times before about my Snowshoe cat, he has bad gingivitus and he's been on antibiotics on and off for a long time (Cipro). His problems are due to an immunodefinency problem, a surpressed immune system (but not FIV or leukemia, tested twice negative). I started giving him Transfer Facter back in January (1 scoop a day) and it seems to be good, he's more active, happy, and he has less breakouts where he cannot eat. His coat also looks very shiny and healthy. His gums also look a little bit better, but they're still all red.

Anyway, everyone in the family has noticed that the last few weeks, he's looking very "bleached out". He's developed some white hairs around his eyes (he has a brown mask, he's a seal point), and his tan colored saddle is becoming noticably lighter in color! I know white hairs come with age...but he's only 2.5 years old! He's starting to look very old in other ways too, his face is more sharp...I cannot describe it, he just looks so much older than my other cat whose actually six months younger.

The only change has been the Transfer Factor, the stuff has lots of vitamins, minerals, and other good stuff but I wonder if it's a reaction to something. I am taking him to the vet next week for his checkup but I doubt he'll know anything about this one!

Here is an ingrediant list:
post #2 of 19
I don't know, when I had one of my orange boys go through a major illness and several vet visits, his fur started turning white in spots not long after. The vet said it was probably from the stress
post #3 of 19
Pointed cats (a Snowshoe is most definately a pointed cat) can develop fever coat when an infection is present in the tissue under the fur - such as in the face when a gum infection is raging. The fur of a pointed cat is heat-sensitive. That is to say, they darken where they lose heat and lighten where it is warmer.

The fur lightening around your cat's face is an indication that his gums are infected - that would be my guess. Because he doesn't feel well, he might be laying more on the side where you notice (the saddle area) the fur is turning lighter.
post #4 of 19
Merlin has been getting a lot of white hairs since I got him back in June 2004. When I brought him home he was the same shade of silver-grey all over his body. Now he's getting a lighter face, and his coat is speckled with white hairs. I always thought it was because he's a mixed breed, and his coat has just changed as he got older. (He's only around 2 years old.) I know how much my hair colour has changed in 18 years (I was bald for the first three years of my life. ), and I figured the same thing could happen to cats.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Gayef, thanks for your always helpful responses. That makes so much sense. I guess my question now is, what can I do? I know there's an infection...should we just start him on a course of Cipro as usual, or is there something better I could do for him?

Oh, and from the look of it, I'm not sure he's feeling very ill. In fact, he's been extremely playful, affectionate, and his appetite has been great. He seems to sleep a lot, but all cats do that.
post #6 of 19
You are welcome, Strebor - as far as what to do, I think you should speak to your vet and ask about other options for your kitty. Repeated, long-term use of antibiotics creates even more problems than it solves sometimes and it may be time to consider another course of action instead of another course of antibiotics.

I think it is good that you are giving him the Transfer Factor, I have heard good things about it for cats with autoimmune issues. And from what you said in your post, it sounds like it may be helping somewhat, but it would seem not so much as to prevent flare ups of the gum problems. Have you thought about extractions yet? I know it seems extreme - believe me, I had misgivings about it myself when I faced a similar problem with my own cat, but afterwards I couldn't have been happier with the results. My cat seemed to own a new lease on life once the teeth were no longer an issue for her. Her gums calmed down (didn't cease totally, but she enjoyed a much longer period of time between flare ups) and we were able to decrease the antibiotic use down to at most, once or twice per year.

Schedule a consult appointment with your vet to discuss other possibilities though - he may have other things to suggest.

I sincerely hope your little guy feels better soon! And as always, don't hesitate to let us know how it goes.

post #7 of 19
I've been told to expect teh same with Limerick. it's a sign of aging. Limerick already has some white hairs throughout his fur and he's 10 months old. If you're worried ask your vet, but I don't think it's anything to worry about.
post #8 of 19
maybe there's a way that you can boost his immune system? Hissy swears by Grapefruit seed extract for a great lot of things, but I don't know if it would apply? Also, l-lysine is what my vet suggested for Gibby...
post #9 of 19
Strebor, I've had no experience with your situation but I just want you to know I'm reading and send hugs! Sasha is almost 13 and his eyelashes are kinda silver (he's a black/white tuxedo) but that's all.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
"Have you thought about extractions yet? I know it seems extreme - believe me, I had misgivings about it myself when I faced a similar problem with my own cat, but afterwards I couldn't have been happier with the results."

The thing is, Riley is not just my cat, and my mother does not like the idea of taking out his teeth at all. As shallow as it sounds, she is worried it will make his face "cave in". I've seen cats with extractions done, and they don't seem to have that happen unless they lose all their canine teeth, isn't that correct? My vet suggests extractions as well, as soon as we've tried everything else. Would he generally need all of his teeth taken out? The gingivitus runs pretty much all through his mouth, except the very front.

Eventually I'm sure we will probably have to take his teeth out, either way.

I hate the idea of always having him on antibiotics, especially since I'm not sure they work all that well now.

I hate to sound cheap, but how much do extractions usually run? Money is a bit of an issue, but I'm sure we could make something work for him.
post #11 of 19
While I can't and won't say the extractions are inexpensive and that they won't give your cat's face a "caved in" look - I can say that in the long run, I spent much less on the extractions than I would have on the repeated antibiotics and other health issues that would have certainly cropped up and my own experience was that my cat's face did not get a caved in look. I had all of her teeth extracted, including the canines. The teeth simply hold up the "lips" if you will - the bone structure of the jaw is still there, so unless they go in and actually remove portions of the jaw structure, the face shouldn't get that look.

If money is an issue, why not discuss a payment plan with your vet - since he is already suggesting the extractions (after you've wasted a bunch of time and money trying everything else and are still not getting good results) then maybe he would be willing to work with you on the bill.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the positive response about his face; I didn't think that would happen, but she insists other. First, I have to work on my mother, she is quite adamant about not removing any teeth. We're going to the vet next week anyway for his and my other cat's checkups, so I'm sure he'll want to discuss extractions with us again when he looks at Riley's mouth.
post #13 of 19
Strebor, I had been looking for a certain picture of the cat I had some time back - the one who underwent the full-mouth extraction ... there is a real good one of her face where you can see that the extractions did not in any way distort the shape of this little girl's face and I finally found it. Here you go, might help with your mom.

post #14 of 19
belly rubs to the sweet furry from Mischka & Linx
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for posting that, I will definetly show her that as soon as she gets home.
post #16 of 19
Strebor, maybe Riley just needs a thorough dental cleaning. It's possible he may need extractions, too. Almost all of my cats have had a tooth or two extracted.

Cats can get something called FORL (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions). It's similar to extreme tooth decay. It's a very painful condition for the cat. Cats are, unfortunately, too good at masking pain and discomfort - my cat had 2 FORLs and she never gave any indication that she was hurting. Don't assume Riley isn't hurting because he's not showing it.

Dental disease is nasty business because aside from the obvious pain of decaying teeth and sore, inflamed gums, the bacteria generated in the mouth can go "system-wide". That is, bacteria from dental conditions can affect major organs of the body, causing them to become diseased.

Please explain this to your mom - I'm sure she doesn't want Riley to be in pain and be at risk for more disease. Imagine if you had an impacted wisdom tooth for example - would you want to live with the pain of that?

As far as the "caved in" look - I know two people who needed to extract all their cats' teeth, and there was absolutely no change in appearance. One of my feral cats only has two teeth left in the back of his mouth. You would never know it by looking at him.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks to both of you for putting my mind at ease about the "caved in" look due to the extractions.

I actually took Riley up to the vet on Monday for his annual shots, and he said his gums are looking better. It's likely due to the Transfer Factor, since nothing else has changed, but my vet didn't have much to say about it (even though I brought him the bottle) since he has never used it. They aren't as inflamed and bright red, and are less "bubbly" looking.

Anyway, we decided to get Riley's teeth cleaned out in early April (under the gums and everything), and my vet also mentioned a procedure he thinks will help, where he will cauterize his gums, and that will supposedly help him grow new, healthy gums in. Sounds awfully painful to me, but we will be discussing all of the procedure in detail before it's done.
post #18 of 19
Glad you took him in ... and I am very interested in hearing about this procedure so let me know, OK?
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'll keep you updated about it. I plan to take him in in a couple of weeks to get it done.
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