My cat is about 13 years old, over the last few months she sits and pulls out her hair, first it was just on one side, now it is the other.
Has anyone had this happen before. Don't have a lot of money to go to vet yet, she doesn't seem to be sick and she eats a lot, but she stays skinny.
I found this info on VetInfo (http://www.vetinfo.com/cathair.html). Hope it helps.
Q: I have two female cats, and one, Samantha, is pulling out her fur. I've tried salves and sprays for itchy skin. She doesn't have fleas. The skin itself looks fine. But nearly every day I find tufts of fur. I'm supposing some kind of emotional problem.
She's a tabby and has always been aggressive when anyone tries to pet her--other than me; with me she's quite docile and accepting of pretty much anything. She's very vocal and, if I'm not giving her enough attention, she'll begin calling, sometimes loudly. She is slightly aggressive toward her companion cat, although they've never hurt each other. Sam will hit Kitt over the head with loud thumps of her paw and hisses, and she'll bite her around the neck, although, with Kitt's ruff, I doubt Kitt even notices too much. I think there's some contention over which cat is head-cat, but I hestitate to interfere if they're vying for leadership. You'd think, though, after about 10 years together, they'd have it worked out by now.
I don't quite know what to do. Any ideas?
There are several reasons that cats pull out their fur. Sometimes it is a behavioral thing but lots of times it is due to problems such as fleas, mange, ringworm (a fungal infection), allergies, immune mediated disease and bacterial infections.
Even if you never see fleas, you can not assume that they are not present on a cat that has skin disease. Cats are extremely good at removing fleas from their body and cats that are allergic to fleas are usually even better at than other cats. So it is almost always best to use a product like fipronil (Frontline Topspot Rx) or imidoclopramide (Advantage Rx) that will kill fleas. These products also kill some of the types of mange mites that affect cats, so they help if that is a problem, too.
If using a flea control product does not solve the skin problem, then it is a good idea to have your vet examine your cat and determine if one of the other skin diseases is present. This can take several visits since the conditions look very much alike and it is easy to believe that one problem is present and decide to treat for it rather than do a lot of testing. If the treatment doesn't work, then testing becomes much more important.
Behavioral hair pulling is usually a diagnosis that is made after other causes have been ruled out and the problem still persists. There are medications that help many cats with this type of problem and sometimes relatively easy to implement changes in the cat's lifestyle can help. I really think that behavioral problems should be considered but I also really think it is important to eliminate most other causes before relying on this diagnosis.
I honestly think it would be best to get Frontline or Advantage, if you are not already using one of these products. If they do not produce a lot of improvement in two to three weeks, then it would be best to have your vet examine Samantha and start the process of diagnosing her problem.
In the meantime, some cats respond favorably to antihistamines. Chlorpheniramine (Chlortrimeton TM) 4mg, 1/2 tablet twice a day is an OK dose for most adult cats but it would be best to ask your vet to help you determine the dosage specifically for Samantha if you want to try antihistamines.
Hope this helps.
Mike Richards, DVM 8/22/99
We are on the advantage for fleas etc. She just started this about 6 -8 months ago, first it was only one side, now it's the other.
We do think she is having some behavioral issues, we have dogs as well and of course a dog door. She does not have a litter box, never has but recently she has had a few accidents in the house, she knows better, but it's been happening.
I guess a vet visit will be next.
Thanks for the info.
Hey Cheryl -
I can't help with the fur issue, however, you did mention that she is 13 years old which is pretty old for a cat.
I had a cat that lived to 17 years and before that she quit using the litter box. She would do her business near it, just not in it. I had a tile floor so I put down puppy training pads around the box and that helped.
You also mentioned that she is eating well but stays skinny. That could be due to her age also. Usually when an animal gets that old they can lose muscle mass. Not much you can do about that. Just watch her and see if her eating habits do change.
My 17 year old got very picky about what she would eat - I pretty much cooked her food for her during the last year. Chicken with brown rice and some veggies - I guess she wanted bland food. :)
Currently I have two 15 year old Siamese and one of them, the female, has started peeing on the carpet in the room she hangs out in. There is a litter box in that room and, up until a couple of months ago, she was using it. That's been a lot of fun to deal with!
I guess the fur pulling could be a stress, old age issue. Things that she could deal with before may be getting to her. Hard to tell why animals suddenly change their behavior, especially as they get older.