Over grooming, Hairballs and slightly off his food - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Question Over grooming, Hairballs and slightly off his food

Hi everyone,

I grew up with cats in our home as a kid, and we have had two in recent years. Both long haired beauties, the first a 9 year old Norwegian cross named Perry and now Marley, a cross between a Maine Coon and something else. Perry passed away in 2009 due to CRF.

Marley was 3 when we adopted him in 2011. He was neutered when we got him. His weigh was recorded as 19.5 lbs at his adoption and topped at 21.5 lbs about two years ago. We figure he reached his full maturity at that point. On his recent visit to the Vet 6 weeks ago he had dropped to 19.2 lbs a noticeably 1.3 lbs drop from his previous check up the year before. The Vet noted that he did not appear to have any health issues, but asked us to keep track of his weight to see if it continued to deteriorate. Last week he weighed in at 19.2, even though he was on and off his food and hacking up hairballs more than we would like. He is also less active, but does still enjoy playing with us and his toys.

I'll try to zero in on my concern.

What's 'normal' for Marley

About once every six to eight weeks he would hack up a hairball and then he would be fine. We could always tell when he was working on one because he would become a little less active and off and on his food. And usually about 4 in the morning you could hear this 'vacuum cleaner' running in reverse as he hoovered up a hairball.

We groom him as much as possible, but he only allows us to groom for a short period before getting charged up by the experience and then he starts swatting with his paws. He goes to the groomer once a month for nail trimming and deep grooming to remove the undercoat. As a matter of fact he goes the day after Labor Day for a day at the 'spa'. We have him bathed once a year usually around Christmas time.

He enjoys the Royal Canin Maine Coon dry food which also helps to keep his teeth clean and probably helps with hairball removal. We give him Hairball treats and Indoor Hairball treats as well as Dental, and a combination of Turkey and Chicken treats too from a name brand. He probably takes in 350 calories from his food and about 40 to 50 calories just from the treats during the day! He litter box is still 'normal' he passes stool regularly and usually has two or three golf ball sized urine drops during a 24 hour period.

He has two water sources at his food station, one a fountain with continuous water flow and the other a bowl. I clean the bowl daily, and the fountain about once a week (he likes to stick his paws in the fountain which contributes to dirtying the water).

OK, you get the routine.

Recently, in the passed two weeks he has begun to groom excessively. Not just one place, but all over for 40 or 50 minutes at a time. Consequently he has had about 6 or 7 hairballs in the passed two weeks, each time about the size of a cigar. This would be manageable, if it weren't for the fact that he went on and off his food twice in the last 3 or 4 weeks necessitating a change in food to get him eating again. We have slowly switched back to his normal food.

I don't think he has stuffed himself with cat hair, I see no evidence of bloating or discomfort if I touch his lower abdomen. The fact that he is still eating (although reduced) and using the litter box suggests that he is processing his food properly. The treats have a petroleum lubricant in them, and so far we have not seen any diarrhea.

This new 'phase' in his life has us watching him more closely. The hairballs are not my concern and for the most part they clean up easily. It's the frequency and the fact that his eating habits are off from what I would call normal that have me most concerned. Watching his weight is something we hadn't anticipated this early in his little life.

It would be great if he could talk and tell us what is going on, but that isn't about to happen (although he can ask to go 'out' with us and ask for treats too). No, I'm not kidding either.

Does this sound normal to anyone, or do I take him in for blood work and another general exam to see if the Vet can identify anything?

Thoughts anyone?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 02:06 PM
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When I took Cleo in recently for over grooming, it was fleas. I checked all my girls and never saw a single flea, but it just takes one, especially if your cat is highly sensitive to fleas like Cleo. My girls are inside cats, but there's a cat that lives next door who comes up on my porch and I've even brought them in before from my neighbor's cats living in my yard.

P.S. Dry food does not clean teeth any more than eating Fritos would clean ours. I know some vets still believe that, but cats either shatter the dry food on the ends of their teeth, or swallow it whole.

Info. & Links on why canned is better than all dry diet

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http://www.catforum.com/forum/50-ove...inderella.html
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marie73 View Post
When I took Cleo in recently for over grooming, it was fleas. ...P.S. Dry food does not clean teeth any more than eating Fritos would clean ours. I know some vets still believe that, but cats either shatter the dry food on the ends of their teeth, or swallow it whole.
Thank you for your reply.

I failed to mention that Marley is on Revolution for fleas, ticks and mites from early May through November. We administer it once a month, and I know it is absorbed into his system because he usually becomes quite subdued after the treatment for about a day or so, although he has never reacted badly to it. I can have the groomer inspect him for fleas, and will report back in mid September. My wife is sensitive to a lot of different bites, and we have not experienced flea bites considering the amount of carpeting in the home.

As for food, like resumes, everyone has an opinion about what is best and I mean absolutely no disrespect in saying this. Royal Canin is located in Guelph, Ontario, the home of the Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. The manufacturer has put a great deal of thought into the content, texture, form and function of their wet and dry foods.

One of the characteristics of the Maine Coon blend is that it is a 3/8" long x 3/8" diameter bite that must be chewed in order to be swallowed. The action of biting into the food helps to dislodge tartar which has improved Marley's dental health 100%. He lost two lower molars in his first year with us because the combination of wet and dry food was not helping. The Vet (who is exclusively cats BTW) pointed out that tooth loss can happen in this 'breed' (probably more so due to Marley's build than his pedigree) and suggested a change in food to prevent it. We buy our food from the local pet store. No problems since.

Thanks again.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 03:36 PM
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I've heard of kitty Prozac helping over grooming.

The link will tell you why wet food (or at least a wet/dry combination) is considered a healthier diet for many other reasons, especially male cats, including the subject of CRF. I know my girls look and act healthier after I made the switch (I feed both wet and dry). Just something you might want to read in your spare time, not to be preachy.

Cali, Cinderella, Cleo and Charlee

Always in my heart, my lovely Cinderella, running free at the Bridge.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 06:25 PM
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My cat had a period of overgrooming that suddenly came on, but she's a shorthair cat and had no excessive hairball issues. For us it turned out to be a food allergy. So a switch to a higher quality, grain-free food with less ingredients did the trick.

The dry vs wet debate comes up frequently and at the end of the day I would just suggest to do your research and make up your mind. I do agree that wet food is not great for teeth, however I would prefer a cat without teeth over one with CKD or other issues associated with dehydration. But, I too don't want to preach, but I think it would be worthwhile to look into ingredients etc for possible allergens.


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 07:22 PM
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Grooming for such long periods would definitely have me wondering whether some sort of allergy is involved, whether to an insect, food, or something environmental. You're reasonably certain it's not fleas, and his food hasn't changed (although I guess a food allergy can develop at any time). Has anything in the environment changed, like a cleaning product, laundry detergent, etc? My cat was allergic to a carpet deodorizing powder that I had started to use and licked the fur off the base of her tail. Once I stopped using it, she stopped and the fur grew back.

It could also be caused by stress or boredom, and it can become a habit that's impossible to break. My other cat began overgrooming due to stress, and it continued until she passed away. It wasn't harmful, but it certainly wasn't very attractive...Is there anything that could be stressing Marley? The presence of a new kitty outdoors, or something new in the house?
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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The environment is the one thing that is difficult to control this time of year with the temperatures up and down the AC on and off.

We just discovered this week that the AC has a leak in the evaporator which means it is leaking into the home. R410a refrigerant used in modern AC systems has a host of side effects that include some we have noticed in Marley, lethargy, loss of appetite to name two. The AC is scheduled to be repaired, but until then we have kept the windows open as much as possible.

The MSDS on R410a: http://www.lindecanada.com/internet....135_109232.pdf

I may be grasping here, but small animals are sensitive to anything and I think it is something to eliminate. In the mean time he is still picking, but through weight checks his weigh remains around 19.3 lbs and he is working front to back in the litter box. But, the grooming is still prolonged, and his hairball frequency is still too high, about once every 10 days as opposed to once ever 6 weeks.

We've introduced a brush to comb him which he looks for every evening and more 'lubricant' in his food choices to help the hair move through.

On another quest for food this morning since we ran out of the fussy cat alternative.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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OK, been to the groomer. She checked him out for fleas... not a one.

Three possible directions to consider:

1. He is going through some sort of phase change now that he is over 8 years old. His food intake may be off because of this, and the hot dry weather we have had.
2. He picked up a tick somewhere in our yard and this is manifesting as symptoms of lethargy, low food intake and constant grooming and scratching around his ears.

(Ears the most obvious location for a tick, but they can be anywhere).

He takes Revolution topically, and no fleas are present and he just had his next application of Revolution which apparently kills ticks within 12 hours.

3. He has some other form of physical ailment that is not presenting itself.

The last two points would mean a visit to the Vet for blood work and closer examination.

Having had a cat with CRF, I am well tuned to the symptoms of it and what to look for. He is not dehydrated, his eyes are not sunken, nor is he having kidney issues with high fluid output. His weight continues to hover around 19.2 lbs and his urine output is normal for his size.

He doesn't appear to be in a life threatening situation. His breathing is normal, there is no sign of drooling, or vomiting (other than hair balls, which at the moment appear to have subsided).

The AC was checked yesterday after it quit on Monday - one of our hottest days. The system doesn't appear to be leaking; - pressures are fine. Blew a capacitor; - a common problem especially with power surges.

Thoughts anyone?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2017, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the over grooming finally subsided and we are now on a more 'normal' schedule for hair balls.

Changed his food yet again to coincide with the fact that he has been neutered. Other food may have given him an itchy skin reaction (allergy?).

We're alternating his food a bit (more like overlapping from one to the other) and he seems to have adapted to this quite well.

Have discovered a way to keep stray cats out of our un-fenced yard so they don't use it a their own turf... will post a new thread.

Cheers!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2017, 09:25 PM
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I totally missed your previous update, but I'm glad to hear he's doing well and that the issues seem to be clearing up.

The overgrooming may have been a response to a food allergy, or maybe just a seasonal allergy, like humans get, that was making him itchy and thus overgroom. If it was a food allergy, you'd probably need to eliminate one key ingredient at a time in order to figure out what the trigger was. That can be a long process.

Or maybe it was a one-time thing, one of those mystery kitty ailments that come and go without our ever discovering the cause. Whatever the case, as long as he's back to normal, all is good!
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