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Advice Needed: Kitty pulling fur out

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi All,
I am new here. I have 2 cats, have had Freddie since 2001 and Rocky since 2002. We also have 2 dogs, a lab and Jack Russell. Our lab will be 12 tomorrow and our JRT is 15 months. All of the animals seem to get along fine, but over the last few months Freddie has started to pull his fur out. His tummy is pretty bald and an area on his back is starting to look like he is pulling out hair as well. He is on monthly flea treatment and he doesn't seem itchy. I took him to the vet and was told it looks like it is behavioral. He said Freddie's case did not seem severe at this point but there is medication he can perscribe. We also talked about possible stress related issues. I am not sure what I can do to find out what is stressing Freddie out. I am not sure if its the addition of our JRT, they seem to get along great, they even sleep on our bed together. Our JRT is not allowed to play with the cats as far as chasing or other harassement. Our lab is older and has no interest in the cats and Freddie has lived with our lab since day one. Freddie and Rocky are both indoor cats and seem to get along fine. They play/chase one another occasionally, they share sleeping areas and also groom one another. Now I did happen to see an episode on Animal Planet which showed a cat with the same issue as Freddie. They said that other outside cats were spraying the house of the resident cat and this was causing the resident cat stress as he would smell the other cats. I have on occasion noticed cat pee smell outside our house so I'm not sure if this may be part of Freddie's problem. Even though he is strictly inside, he may be able to smell other cats? Also I have been reading these boards and some people say you should have a couple of litter boxes if you have more than one cat? Could this be also causing stress for Freddie? Even though he has shared a box with Rocky since Rocky arrived in 2002? The cats also have the guest room which is baby-gated off from the dogs. I was going to add some toys in there to see that may help Freddie's mental well being. Also, the cats have a small opening to the basement where thier food and litter, etc. is kept. The basement has been pretty much cats only until the JRT arrived. While we do not encourage him to go down there, he is small enough to fit through the opening so he may on occiasion get down there although he cannot access their food or litter box.

Sorry this is so long but I guess I wanted to see if anyone had any advise for me to help Freddie. I would rather not medicate yet but would like to find ways of reducing his stress as the fur pulling seems to be a result of his stress. His behavior has not changed otherwise. He is still the same friendly cat he has always beeen but obviously something is going on, any advice would be great!
post #2 of 13
My initial thought, reading that your kitty was pulling his hair out, was that he may have eczema or an allergy to something in his food!

There is also the possibility, as you mentioned, of it being stress related!

I would recommend that you see another vet (or your own) and ask about the possibility of eczema or allergy! The treatment for this is a short course of antibiotics and a change of food to something possibly containing no fish or lactose products!

I'm sure others will be able to give you more information on this, as I've just learnt about this through one of my best friends and her cat!
I'll see if I can find her thread for you!
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks Sar,
Actually when this first started I thought it was allergy related as well. So I did change Freddie's food. He did get better, but not completely....maybe I should try switching his food again?

Also what are the signs of eczema? Is the stress related behavior pretty rare?

post #4 of 13
Hi and thanks for posting.
One of my cats (Imp) does that and I have no idea why.
I have been using a mild lavander salve on my hands when I massage her and that seems to help. It only happens around this time of year and I was wondering if your cat's over-licking behavior happens at the same time each year as well.
This is not a good post day for me as I ma being attackec....by cats!
post #5 of 13
Ah, so it does sound like it could possibly be allery related! I know that a lot of the members know a lot about food for cats with allergies, who may be able to help you!

I'm not sure of the exact signs of eczema, but from what I understand (bearing in mind I am no expert!) it can come in the forms of hair loss from overgrooming or attempting to ease the irritation, twitching skin - due to the irritation. I will do a quick search and see if I can find anything for you!

Sometimes, in the balding areas, you may be able to see kind of raised areas and scabs - but this isn't always the case!

Stress reactions in cats come in all sorts of forms! It could be pulling fur, peeing inappropriately and many alternatives! I don't think that it's rare, but initially, I would have thought that allergies would be one main factor in pulling fur.

Just a thought, what do you feed Freddie?

As you are concerned that it may be stress related, you may wish to invest in a Feliway plug-in for the cat room!
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your quick responses.

So I think I will try switching foods again. For years the cats were on Nutro and never had any problems. When Freddie started itching, I switched to Natural Balance venison/green pea formula. I actually switched the dogs to Natural Balance from Nutro as well and have loved the results. Maybe I will try a different formula of NB, see if that works.

Sar- Initially when Freddie started itching he did have scabs (on his back, never on his belly), since I switched foods, no scabs, but still pulling hair out. I also thought it may have been a flea allergy, even though I did not see any fleas, I put everyone on Frontline just to cover my bases.

Roofrabbit - What type of salve do you use, is it strictly for cats? or is it for humans? I have some coat conditioner from "Plush Puppy" I bought for the dogs, I thought I may try it on Freddie as it is all natural, (no tee tree oil or anything like that in it). Not sure if it is seasonal, but I'm not inclinced to think so since he has never done this before and he has lived with us since 2001. (Man, I wish he could just tell me! )
post #7 of 13
It might be worth a try changing his diet, but I would speak with your vet first, as they might be able to offer an idea of a specific food! I would recomment James Wellbeloved as it's free from allergens and has cleared up my Willow's dandruff really well!

From what I have read in my recent searches, there doesn't necessarily need to be scabs for the kitty to pull their fur, the skin could just be itchy or dry!

I would speak to your vet and see what they recommend and also try the stress relieving methods, too, just to be on the safe side! Besides, there's nothing wrong with helping our cats to feel calmer!

Also, although the coat conditioner you have is completely natural, I wouldn't recommend that you use it, as it may irritate the skin more - you can just never tell!

There is some good information about skin problems on this site - but I am not recommending you use this product, as I'm not a vet and do not know anything about it!!
post #8 of 13
Here is the thread Sarah was talking about:


As you will read, I have a fur puller myself
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I will check ou the thread now!
post #10 of 13
It's a good idea to go to a vet...sometimes if they feel uncomfortable, they'll pull their fur out.

If there's nothing wrong, then a Feliway Diffuser and Grizzly Salmon oil have never failed me, and I have 2 fur-pullers.
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by AbbysMom
Here is the thread Sarah was talking about:


As you will read, I have a fur puller myself
Thank you Karen! I couldn't find it to save my life!!
post #12 of 13
I'm a big advocate of the Feliway plug, as I have an obsessive licker (not a puller). She's actually on medication right now, as the feliway just wasn't doing enough. Three weeks of that and her fur's beginning to grow back again.

I also initially switched Kanoe over to the Venison and pea mix, and it worked well. I think a vet would probably show you either a Hill's or Science allergen mix first... although it will vary by vet.

I'd try to rule out one thing at a time. If the Feliway works, even a little, then it might be stress related. But if you change everything all at once you can't really pinpoint it. Good luck with this, as I know how stressful it can be!
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the advise, I really appreciate it!!

Lionessrampant- I actually took Freddie to the vet last week. He is not in any pain (at least not anything that was detected by our vet). I have never heard of a Feliway Diffuser but I googled it and it sounds interesting. I may give it a try. I also actually already have the Grizzly Salmon oil which I give to the dogs. I can start adding a bit of that to Freddie's food too.

Kaleetha- Thanks for the advice. I think I will try switching foods first. Maybe a different formula of Natural Balance, if that doesn't work, I'll switch brands. I have heard that Wellness, or Inova are pretty high quality foods. I'm not a big fan of Sience Diet, so I am reluctant to try this, but if I have exhausted all other foods I would be willing to try anything at that point.
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