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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2008, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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An unusual cat problem...

I've done a lot of research, but to no avail, and I'm hoping somebody here can provide some assistance or guidance. Unfortunately I cannot get my cat to the vet for another 3-4 weeks at least.

I have 2 cats, both have very large frames (they do not fit in any cat carriers, I have dog carriers for them), and are overweight too, weighing 18-20 pounds (estimated). I know one could stand to lose probably 2-3 pounds and the other 3-4 pounds. They are 6 years old, and will be 7 on July 31.

One cat (the one that is slightly heavier) started demonstrating some unusual behavior a couple weeks ago. When I was brushing him, I noticed that he would turn his head when I ran the brush over his hind quarters, and sometimes snap toward the brush. After doing this a couple times, he would start licking his front legs, almost like a reflex action from the brush passing his hind quarters. Out of curiousity, I did some more work on him, scratching him where his tail meets his spine (something almost all cats enjoy), scratching his hind quarters, and even patting him back there. Everything gives him the urge to just lick his front legs. I don't think anything was hurting him (at least not badly), but it was obviously causing him some sort of discomfort. He will get mad if I keep up any of this activity.

At the same time, I noticed that when he sits, he will always lift his front left leg off the ground and hold it in the air. However, he will walk, run, and jump normally without any indications of pain in that leg. I can touch that leg, even grab and hold it, and it does not seem to bother him.

Obviously, something is bothering my cat, but what could it be? It's only impacting this one cat, the other one is healthy as can be (minus needing to drop a little baggage). Any information/ideas you have will be appreciated, thanks!

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2008, 09:33 PM
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I wish I could help, Fred. I hope another member has seen behavior like this and can explain it. It doesn't sound serious, but I would certainly ask the vet about it.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2008, 10:42 PM
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I think the sensitivity issue could be hyperesthesia related or his weight is causing nerve sensitivity. Some of our cats are more sensitive to being touched (patted or scrubbled) on their rumps. They may lick, try to 'bite' to stop us or will jump away and 'ruffle' their fur back into place.

The lifting of the foot when sitting...maybe that is also weight related, if he has excess flesh behind his elbow that make it uncomfortable to sit with all four on the floor? I do think it would be a good idea to speak with your vet and perhaps have him looked at.
I have a kitty, who EVERY time she dips her head to eat/drink from a plate, she will shake one front foot. EVERY time. We don't know why, perhaps she stepped in wet when she was a kitten and eating or drinking and now it is a habit? We just don't know, but it isn't bothering her, it is just something 'odd' that she does.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2008, 10:50 PM
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some cats have what I refer to ask a "lick spot". Scratch there and they'll start licking uncontrollably. Sadie does this. She'll lick me, herself, the air...anything she can get her little tongue on. It doesn't seem to be painful, just more like a weird reflex or sensitivity. I don't like to encourage it, though, because there seems to be a correlation between that and a different tendency to continually lick patches of her skin to the point of causing scabby raw areas.

I don't think its really anything to be overly concerned about, at least. It doesn't sound like his leg is much to be concerned about either since there's no indication of pain. Maybe something to mention next time their due to see the vet, but not something I think you need to make an appointment over.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2008, 11:45 AM
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My cat Greg, who is also a big boy (18 pounds), has some similar behaviors. When I scratch the base of his tail just right, he starts licking furiously, usually contacting nothing but air. He always purrs really hard and seems to enjoy it.

Other times, he will display random sensitivity (or at least annoyance) when I touch his legs or abdomen. I've had him checked out thoroughly and the vet can find nothing wrong. It comes and goes, never consistently and never in the same spots.

I have a different cat, Taro, who does the paw-shake thing, but only after eating, or if you try to give him food he doesn't want. I always thought it was lazy shorthand for the "burying the food for later" thing, which all my cats did when they were kittens.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2008, 11:58 AM
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If I pet Toby too near to his tail end, he will start to thrash his tail furiously and if I don't stop, will turn around and try to bite me. Never really concerned me - I just assume he doesnt like being petted there.

He is also slightly overweight so maybe a link? I don't know.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2008, 01:22 PM
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Part the hair back there and see if there are any little dirty 'dots'. Sometimes (ahem) "large" cats can't clean themselves well. They can get flea allergy dermatitis in that very spot where the back meets the tail, because that's where fleas love to go. Even if he hasn't had fleas for a long time, the dermatitis can last and last. When you scratch there, it's like a "hurts so good" sensation for the cat.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2008, 07:24 PM
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The first behavior is something I've seen fairly often in heavy and senior cats. The sensation of being touched or itching in a place they cannot reach somehow transfers into the front legs...sort of like digging your fingernails into the palm of your hands when your feet itch and you have heavy boots on and can't scratch them. Assumpta used to do this when she was up around 14 pounds, but stopped when she lost some weight.

There is a cat pose I call "The Paw of Indecision," where the cat lifts one paw slightly, usually flexing and relaxing it a few times (like "kneading" in the air). It usually seems to be a cat who's trying to decide what to do next....put the foot forward? Sit? Stand up? Lie down? It is decidedly different from the "I'm gonna smack you so hard" paw-lift, or the "ouch" paw-lift, because it looks like a really mellow, relaxed (and often slightly puzzled) cat just sort of making an "air muffin" and thinking. Sort of twiddling their paws, if you will. Some cats (like Assumpta) seem to do it often, others not at all. But if it's new to your cat, or has started suddenly, it may be worth looking into further to make sure there's not a discomfort issue.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 12:37 AM
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In my experience it's because they are too fat to reach the area for themselves, so when you brush or scratch it for them, it triggers displaced grooming behavior.

Jean Hofve, DVM
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies!

I did check his fur back there, and yes there are some brown dots. I watched him groom himself, and realized that yes there is a good sized area back there he can't reach now. His gut doesn't sag much like most fatter cats do, but he is wide, and that's probably why he can't reach a good part of his hind quarters. I'll do some research in here for diet ideas.

Would just giving him a good bath help a little? He doesn't mind the bathing part, it's drying him off that's a hassle.
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