Obsessive cat licking himself quite bald
I don't know what to do with this cat! Let me tell you about Casper. Casper is a 9 year old male house cat. We found him outside at a little under 1 month of age, but he never seems to have completely grown out of being wild. He is not a lap kitty, and I don't ever pick him up unless it's for something like putting him in the carrier. I wouldn't ever dare giving him a bath like the others, but that's fine because he does not ever need any extra cleaning. He's a VERY clean cat, and has always kept his fur perfectly smooth and shiny.
BUT. For Christmas this last year, he got a cheap toy mouse. He loved this stupid toy so much that he didn't stop playing with the pieces of it until I threw them away because he was starting to swallow them. Not knowing that I threw the toy away, he started stationing himself in front of the furniture under which the mouse would usually get stuck out of his reach. He did this for 2 weeks until I realized that he was searching for that toy! I figured he would get over it and ignored him, but after a few more weeks I noticed the bald spot.
He licked himself so much that a 2-inch bald spot started growing on his back, AND he started getting terrible hairballs on the carpet. I took him to the vet, wanting to make sure that there wasn't an underlying medical issue, but the vet gave him the ok- no mites or skin conditions. He gave him a steroid just to see if maybe he's just an itchy cat. I thought it was working for a few days, but it didn't.
So. I went and spent about $30 and bought this cat as many small mouse toys as I could find, and some catnip. The catnip was amazing at first, and the toys were an instant hit. I keep pulling them out from under the furniture (and from in my shoes) and I make sure there's always a few out. But the bald spot is still growing!
This thing is about six inches across now, and there's one starting on the other side of his back too. I wouldn't dare put something gross on his back to stop him from licking, I know him and he would absolutely disregard it.
He's just obsessive! He once chewed on his own injured leg because it was "bothering" him. I could put a cone on him, but this can't be a long term solution.
I need to find something else for him to be obsessed with. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't take him for walks outside since it would be something very new and exciting. What it reminds me of is the way herding dogs need a "job" to keep them happy. Do you think there is something I can do to give this cat a job besides licking himself bald?
I'm taking him back to the vet, maybe he can put him on some sort of anti-anxiety medication. I want to see my cat happy (and I'm tired of cleaning up hairballs) but I don't think medicating him is the best option.