View Full Version : Looking for help with cat problem...

Sheryl Nantus
12-11-2006, 06:17 PM
... and I thought I'd ask the knowledgable minds here.

first, I *do* have a vet appointment set up - but unfortunately it's for NEXT Monday, since my vet has only two nights a week that they stay open until 7pm and hubby has the car all day. But enough backstory...

Mitchell - brown tabby, about four years old, short-haired. No health problems to date; stays inside all the time. Nervous little mama's boy.

suddenly about a week or so ago I notice that he's actually got a few thinning patches of fur on his back. Examination shows that yes, he's actually bitten/nibbled bits out and now the scabs are growing back with more itching due to the new skin. Center of back, up near neck and down near base of tail.

I checked him over for fleas; no evidence of same. Combings show plenty of skin flakes, but no flea poop. Not to mention that my *other* cat, the white long-haired monster named Jazz, has no indications of fleas at all - and I'd like to think that she'd be showing them pretty easily, being white-haired and all.

vet assistant recommended Frontline treatment, which we'll do today when hubby arrives home from work with said flea meds - but I'm not thinking this is a flea problem. Other than the few areas he's not scratching under his chin or anyplace else; and he's a nervous sort to start with. They both eat Iams dry and wet food, with mineral oil and lactulose added to wet food (primarily for white old cat) and are indoors cats totally.

suggestions, comments, help?

thanks in advance!!!


Ol' Fashioned Girl
12-11-2006, 06:36 PM
I've got an overweight tabby with the exact same problem - seems also to be very sensitive along the ridge of her back - hyper-sensitive sometimes. According to my vet, there's really nothing to be done for it - steroid shots may offer some relief, but in the long run, they're worse for her than the itchies. She's a 'nervous nellie', too. Some days are worse than others, but she seems to be in a 'lesser' cycle at the moment.

Little Red Barn
12-11-2006, 06:37 PM
Call your vet and ask him about Benadryl.

12-11-2006, 07:08 PM
Nothing wrong with giving the cat a bath every so often. I know it sounds weird but get some mild anti-dandruff or pine tar shampoo and give the cat a bath in warm water. A former roommate of mine used to give his cat a bath about once a month because he (my friend, not the cat) had allergies.

No, the cat didn't like it, but it did seem to help her overall appearance and general health. Just make sure you dry the cat off thoroughly after the bath so he won't get chilled and don't get any shampoo in his ears or eyes.

Also you might want to try putting a little Australian tea tree oil (you buy it at a natural food store in those little dram sized bottles) on the places where the skin is broken out. It stings a little but if there is any fungal or mite contamination on those sites that will stop it from spreading. It won't hurt the cat to get some of the tea tree oil in its mouth.

I hope this was helpfu!

Sheryl Nantus
12-11-2006, 07:19 PM
I hadn't thought about the bath - I'd probably be too scared to use any sort of shampoo, but certainly a warm bath couldn't hurt the wee one.

(as in, twenty pounds of sucky mama's boy.)

my vet's one of those who won't do anything until they see the cat, so Benedryl's out for the week unfortunately... but I'll keep it in mind when we make it there!


Little Red Barn
12-11-2006, 07:51 PM
I hadn't thought about the bath - I'd probably be too scared to use any sort of shampoo, but certainly a warm bath couldn't hurt the wee one.

(as in, twenty pounds of sucky mama's boy.)

my vet's one of those who won't do anything until they see the cat, so Benedryl's out for the week unfortunately... but I'll keep it in mind when we make it there!


Sheryl, my vet is on call 24/7. Could you not call your vet and ask if perhaps a certain # of cc's of Bendryl will ease the poor babes discomfort til you get him there?
ps baths are good for cats...but you don't want to really stress him out...uhmm...I'd have to give him a gentle avveno oatmeal bath if vet doesn't tell you to give Bendryl.

Sheryl Nantus
12-11-2006, 08:30 PM
the odd thing is that he doesn't seem that uncomfortable - he'll come and lie on my lap for hours and then wander off... then get twitchy, nibble a bit on his back and then sneak off to his hiding place to sleep more. He's such a LOUD groomer (think snoring elephant) that I hear whenever he's cleaning himself.

he tends to concentrate heavily on his toes, so I'm not sure if this is just a mental problem. He's quite the high-strung personality.

12-11-2006, 11:56 PM
Does the other kitty have itches or hair loss? Do you see any red circular patches in the bald areas? Do you have children ?

When you pet the area, does kitty go wild?

12-12-2006, 12:04 AM
It could still easily be a flea problem and some forntline won't hurt IMHO. All cats have at least a few fleas and some have an allergic-type reaction. If the balding and scabbing is worse on the back near the base of the tail this could be it, especially if they were not on any flea meds.

12-12-2006, 12:42 AM
cold pressed lavender extract is an herbal treatment a friend of mine used on his soriusis (I know I spelled that wrong sorry) He said it felt good and I saw that it helped his skin. After some research I found out it is good for skin eruptions and rashes. Just ask your vet first, I don't know if cats are ok with it.

Sheryl Nantus
12-12-2006, 12:44 AM
Does the other kitty have itches or hair loss? Do you see any red circular patches in the bald areas? Do you have children ?

When you pet the area, does kitty go wild?

nope - Jazz, the longhaired white old one, has nothing at all - I've checked her fur. She's actually quite lazy at her grooming, so if she had fleas it'd be obvious. I figure.

the balding spots (there's actually fur there) don't really have anything obvious other than skin literally flaking off. I did a brushing today (as gentle as I could) and he sat with me on the floor and seemed to enjoy it - got a lot of fur off his entire body plus enough hair flakes to do a Head n'Shoulder's commercial.

afterwards I *did* see some reddish areas that were a bit "weepy", as in no blood but moist to the touch, but other than that he's sleeping as usual and sucky as usual. He does start twitching when you check out the afflicted areas, but I figure that's to be expected.

we're going to Frontline them both tonight, just to be sure. But neither cat has been outside literally for years and we keep the front door closed - no screens at all. And I've checked our bed as well as the combings I got from him this morning and found nothing flea-related. Just lots of dandruff.

12-12-2006, 12:56 AM
(don't tell anyone I told you this)

I once had a dog that developed a problem like that. It was from his food.
I stopped that brand and the problem went away; when I tried it again, the problem came back.

Animals can develop food allergies, too.

12-12-2006, 01:06 AM
Hope you don't mind my adding my 2 cents...but maybe the kitty has a thyroid problem...just a thought. Dana

12-12-2006, 01:15 AM
Flea treatment with Advantage or Frontline won't hurt anything, so do that in the meantime. Sounds like either dry skin due to weather, nerves or a food allergy. Thyroid conditions present other symptoms, so I wouldn't worry about that at this stage.

Fleas come inside through screen doors, riding on you, hopping through open windows - but that doesn't mean you have fleas. Iams is a fantastic food, but if he's developed an allergy, you'll need to flip him over from Iams regular to Iams lamb and rice.

Never start out with lamb and rice as a food of choice - because if they develop allergies later in life, you have nothing left to switch them to.

He sounds like a nervous little fella, and if you're doing things for the holidays that you don't do year-round (ie: decorating the house, running around more than usual, having more visitors etc) his nerves could be getting the better of him and he's taking it out on himself. Not at all unusual.

It sounds like you can write off ring worm, scabies and transitional human head lice - so I'd suspect dry, itchy skin.

Now, if his skin is weeping and pussy, you'll have more to worry about. But for now, until you can get him in to see his Veterinarian, go with the flea treatment, and keep up with the good food. If you have any canned tuna, that's a great source of oils for their skin, specifically, and it tastes yummy, too :)

But do get him in to see his Dr. with the appointment you made.

12-12-2006, 01:37 AM
Do not use tea tree oil on your cat! Or pennyroyal. They are both poisonous. You nervous kitty could have something called psychotic feline alopecia, in other words, 'psychotic naked cat disease.'

Some cats, when bored or upset will lick and pick at themselves until they almost totally denude themselves. Sometimes prednisone shots help, but the cause for the cat's nerves should be addressed first.

Have you moved the litter box, changed to a new litter, moved furniture, started a new job, have a new roommate, is there a new stray on your block or has someone moved out? Remember that cats like nothing better than for things to remain exactly the same!

Another possibility is allergies. These must be tested for by a veterinarian. Best of luck!

12-12-2006, 01:43 AM
With one of my cats with dryish skin a little ordinary cooking oil on his food seemed to help too, about a spoonful.

Sheryl Nantus
12-13-2006, 07:26 PM
quick update: Monday night the wee one woke me up about 2 am with crying and fussing; I stayed up all night with him until we got an appointment for 9am with my vet - hubby took the day off and we went on in.

he's on antibiotics for his skin irritation for two weeks - we have to shampoo him once a week (!) with a special shampoo that we have to get to stay on his skin for 5-10 minutes. Argh.

he also managed to have a small ear infection so we're doing the ear drops thing as well. He's thrilled, of course, to have so much attention focused on him. Not.

one thing we did discover during the examination is a slight irritation on his footpads - some of them are actually getting rather "bony" and hard. The vet thinks it may be the cat litter, but we've pretty well stuck to Arm & Hammer with a trip to Tidy Cat when it's on sale - she suggested it may be an allergic reaction to the chemicals. Personally I think that he's standing too much in the litter box (he can literally scratch for FIVE minutes; we've timed it!) atop the rather odorous pile of urine-soaked litter that tends to pile up in one corner thanks to both cats prefering a single spot.

unfortunately we've been so wrapped up with our older cat being diagnosed with a thyroid condition and dealing with the meds that Mitchell slipped under the radar. He's now under the bed, quite annoyed at us and we'll probably have to do a lot of chasing to get him for pills twice a day and ear drops. Hubby already got a nice gash across his hand this morning, so it's burrito-time tonight with a towel.


thanks all for your suggestions and support. I really appreciate it and will definitely remember all of them in the future.


(HOW can 17.9 pounds of cat be so flexible when he doesn't want to take a pill? HOW?)

12-13-2006, 07:50 PM
Glad to hear he's getting some treatment - no matter how angry it makes him!

One thing about the litter . . . when cat urine exits the body, it begins to break down into pure ammonia (and other things). Standing in ammonia will do damage to the pads of his feet if he's doing this with any regularity. I strongly suggest keeping the box clean, and making sure the urine in that one corner doesn't get a chance to pile up. You're not using the scoopable type, and that's fine, but if you can at least push it around when you see them using the one corner, so there's no chance of an ammonia concentration building up there.

Sheryl Nantus
12-13-2006, 08:29 PM
that's what I'm thinking - just cleaned out the litter box; we are using the A&H scoopable type but keep it clean - just going to have to keep it CLEANER, I guess. That and keep him from standing there for five minutes scratching the walls of the box.

he's an odd sort.


12-13-2006, 08:53 PM
I have one like that, takes his time doing his business. Whenever I offer him a magazine, he gives me a dirty look :D

12-14-2006, 03:01 PM
Just a thought but the particles of some of the scoopable litters are so much smaller than plain ol' litter, it seems more likely to stick between their toes and to the hairs between their toes.

How much hair is between the toes varies from cat to cat; we had one cat who had long tufts like some sort of arctic dwelling dog. Others have had almost naked skin. Most cats fall between these two extremes.

If your cat is doing a lot of 'toe cleaning' he may be trying to remove this very small grit that's stuck there and irritating him.

I use plain old fuller's earth litter. Wal-Mart's 'hello, kitty' brand (or whatever they call it). It's easier for me to clean up with my aging eyes (I can see it!).
I thought I'd never get up the scoopable stuff my cat sitter used. It was everywhere and it just laughed at my feeble attempts to chase it down.

12-14-2006, 08:13 PM
I tried the scoopable sand once.

ONCE. That was enough. After you find sand on your countertops, it's time to go back to the regular litter ! :D