Cat Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My cat Sophie has had an overgrooming problem for some time now. Initially the vets suggested it could be stress-related which I never believed as she's a friendly happy cat (though we do have a tom cat across the road that she doesn't like), we didn't have much luck giving her the medication anyway (put her off her food). Then I'd read about grain-allergies and so switched her onto a grain-free diet the past 6 months- but it doesn't appear to have helped. Hadn't always noticed how much she's over-grooming as she does it when in her bed at night than during day, but today she was doing it a lot in morning on her belly/between back legs area, and I've noticed red small spots in that area too which does definately seem to imply an allergy from reading more about it. I had started to accept it thinking it may even just be self-soothing to overgroom, but those small red spots imply it's likely an allergy issue don't they? And the bald patches have now extended to her legs which is definately concerning. (I can try and post a photo of the spots if people want to have a look).

She has also been diagnosed with stage 1 kidney disease so vets told us to stop dried food (we used to give a mixture of wet and dried), so we are only feeding her tinned food now and adding extra water (as she doesn't seem to like drinking much from bowls). She'll have another blood and urine test in 6 months and hopefully it will have improved otherwise it looks like she'll need to go on a renal diet.

So to try and combat her overgrooming/allergy problem, instead of feeding wet grain-free food, is hypoallergenic wet food a good idea to try for her? The vet had suggested that in the past if grain-free didn't work, it's just the price of it initially put us off (and we have another cat too). And if so, is it best just to stick to a one meat diet, and for how long- around a month to see if it improves? Then after try another meat variety, to try and see if it's an allergy to specific meats. Or could we just try hypoallergenic food and give a few meat varieties and see if that works first? I don't quite understand how hypoallergenic food is better though and find it hard to get hold of. So for now I'm just feeding her only chicken or turkey cat food, and seeing if she improves over the next month.

She is a happy, playful cat even at 10 years old, certainly not stressed as she purrs all the time when given fuss. The times she overgrooms are usually when she's resting, either in her bed or on my lap/bed. She will sometimes suddenly awaken and start overgrooming vigorously, which makes me think the skin is itchy caused by an allergy to something (I guess it may even be an allergy to something unrelated to diet?). 😕
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Hello!
Sorry to hear about the issues you have with your Sophie, I feel your pain. I can share what I learned till now, as I am struggling with a similar problem with my newly adopted boy.
Two vets (one generalist and one dermatologist) told me to try the Hill's Z/D food. It contains chicken liver that is hydrolyzed (broken in very small particles) and it should not trigger any allergic reaction. Normally he should eat ONLY this for at least 8 weeks before seeing any results. And in case the itch stopped it is something coming from the food, if not ....not sure what to do.

Currently I am feeding my boy the Z/D diet since 1st December and unfortunately don't see any improvement, he is scratching and as you said he does is suddenly as something is really itching him. No obvious signs on his skin, but I do see some thinning of his fur and a bit of a red eye on one side.

The dermatologist told me there are three big types of allergies:
-flea
-food
-environmental

We ruled out flea, currently investigating the food one and see where we get from there.
 

·
Registered
Sam, domestic short-hair
Joined
·
10 Posts
I'm sorry to hear about Sophie and your new cat, BlackCat! I'm having the same issue with my 9-year-old cat who started overgrooming in the fall. I was going to post about it when I saw your posts.

Our guy's fur isn't getting better and we can't figure out what's causing it. We did a flea treatment - no change - and now he's taking Gabapentin to see if that helps with any possible itching - no change so far. The vet said we would likely have to try cat prozac (Reconcile) next to see if it might be stress-related.

It's strange though as he's lived through two moves, two babies arriving, a massive renovation and he was totally fine. I was way more stressed out than he was LOL!

It seemed to come out of the blue. We haven't changed his food. He's been eating the same stuff forever.
 

·
Registered
Sam, domestic short-hair
Joined
·
10 Posts
(Oh, and we tried a Feliway diffuser too, in case that helped with any stress. No dice. Sigh. If only he could tell us!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
I am not a vet but I would say that is strange to treat an overgrooming problem directly with anticonvulsants... I live in France, here the approach was to rule out an allergy. Apparently the cat can become allergic to the food that he has been eating for years with no apparent reason.

In terms of medication they gave me Apoquel (that is normally meant for dogs and not so efficient in cats, it didn't work for us) and then the next thing are steroids. But I am reluctant to give pills to my baby boy, he is 7 and I would really like to avoid messing up his system.

For the moment he is itching but still eating, sleeping and I consider that we can keep it like this until I finish this food trial and see if it solves his symptoms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for your replies guys! It is the first time I've found other owners who's cats are suffering with similar issues. I've been getting stressed out about it lately as hate seeing Sophie suffering. Her new diet makes things much harder with 2 cats who I always have fed the same food- now I'm having to ensure she doesn't eat any of his and mealtimes are hard work.

The problem is she has two health problems now, the kidney one which is definately the most serious, so I can't switch her onto any dried food. I am getting pretty stressed out by it not sure what to really do. Currently am restricting her diet to chicken and turkey (to see if the allergy is a specific meat- as they usually have a mixture)- but should I only give chicken for now? She will probably hate having the same food for a month, so not sure if I should really restrict it totally.

We have this hypoallergenic food as an option here but it doesn't seem widely available and only one brand I can find selling it. I will try that next if her overgrooming doesn't improve on restricted diet, but then I don't know do I just give that in chicken too to start?

I have tried a feliway diffuser too in the past with no change-I noticed though BlackCat you said your cat is scratching. Sophie has never done that, only ever overgroomed (sucks and licks quite vigorously at her underbelly area- in a different manner to regular washing.) So maybe their conditions are actually different here, or just different symptoms? Sophie has some little reds spots appear lately which is what made me convinced finally that it must be an allergy.

MJ White- that doesn't sound a very strange case as it sounds like an odd time for him to be stressed it so! Is there maybe a new cat in the neighbourhood? that is probably the thing that can stress cats out the most. Of course it can actually be a food allergy, having done lots of research they can apparently develop allergies suddenly at any time.

And it could even be environmental allergy to washing powder...not sure what to change to use for that though.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
327 Posts
Has anyone tried a antihistamine/allergy medication. My little one had a allergy of some kind and my vet told me to try Chlorpheniramine Maleate. This is the first generation of the antihistamines. Ask your vet about this. It worked for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
831 Posts
And it could even be environmental allergy to washing powder...not sure what to change to use for that though.
It can be environmental allergy to many things in the home.
If this were my cat I would remove all chemicals from the house entirely. No hair spray no chemical cleaners at all, nothing with any scent to it, and so on. I would find a place to store the laundry detergent so that there's no chance it will be in the air, and switch to a liquid form that will not put powder into the air. No cleansers at all -- just use white vinegar and water to clean. Cheaper and just as effective for almost everything. Dish soap- make sure it doesn't have any fragrance in it. Same with human soap. Go as simple as possible.

Keep in mind that only feeding chicken or turkey is not a balanced diet (if you mean just the meat, rather than a chicken or turkey based canned food). If you want to do an elimination diet you need to go down to only one, not two at a time.

Keep in mind also that if your cat has kidney issues, feeding a food that is as low as possible in phosphorus is very important. You may have to do some research to find that food, but that is one thing you need to focus on.

It's hard, having allergy issues and other issues at the same time. You may have to sacrifice what is best for one in order to prioritize the other. I suggest you work as closely as possible with a good vet, and I sure do wish you the best of luck.
 

·
Registered
Sam, domestic short-hair
Joined
·
10 Posts
Yeah, I wondered about antihistamines but it seems like they don't prescribe them as much as they used to. From what I've read online (and spoken to my vet) they're not always effective? I still feel like it might be worth a try, like the Gabapentin.

The next thing they're recommending is Reconcile although I'm still not convinced it's psychogenic. He seems to be scratching a lot with his back legs around his face. I'm constantly pulling clumps of fur out of his back claws. He doesn't have any rash, scabs or stomach / bowel issues though. I considered a household allergy but we already only use unscented, green/natural products and haven't changed them in years.

There are neighbourhood cats - two live next door. Our guy is mostly indoors but spends some time in our garden. He is pretty territorial despite being neutered. One of the reasons we try to keep him mostly indoors is because I feel like he'd be a scrapper!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
327 Posts
I would be very reluctant to give a drug like Reconcile to my cat. When your kitty starts to overgroom have you been able to sit next to him in an effort to calm him down a little. Take his mind off of overgrooming?
 

·
Registered
Sam, domestic short-hair
Joined
·
10 Posts
Yes, all of that. Playing extra, giving him space, providing more spots to relax away from the family, Feliway etc. Plus investigating potential physical causes. Hopefully the Reconcile, if we exhaust the other avenues, would only be needed to hit pause and break the cycle while we try and figure out the underlying cause.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
327 Posts
Sounds good. Your definitely doing all the right things.
 

·
Registered
Sam, domestic short-hair
Joined
·
10 Posts
Sounds good. Your definitely doing all the right things.
Thanks, appreciate it. It's been really sad watching him lose his fur and we wish we could do something for him, whether it's relieving itching or stress or whatever. We're trying everything and nothing seems to make any difference.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
26,940 Posts
My Cleo goes through periods of overgrooming throughout her life. No known reason, vet couldn't figure it out, either. She has licked parts of herself bald before. I bought this from Amazon. Not only did it work, it smells wonderful. I spray it on my hands and rub it on her. And I do this on my bed because whatever spray gets on my blankets, it smells so good!

Lively Pets Derma-Soothe Maximum Strength Pramoxine HCL 1% Anesthetic and Medicated Anti Itch Spray - Dogs and Cats with Dry Skin - Hot Spots for Pets - Moisturizing Oatmeal; Fresh Green Apple Scent.

A few months ago, she licked herself almost bald under her arms, so I used whatever the vet gave me - can't remember what it was - and put a onesie on her. As you can see, she was so pleased with the new wardrobe.

Cat Carnivore Dog breed Small to medium-sized cats Whiskers
 
  • Like
Reactions: lcordaro

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Thanks, appreciate it. It's been really sad watching him lose his fur and we wish we could do something for him, whether it's relieving itching or stress or whatever. We're trying everything and nothing seems to make any difference.
Sorry to hear this :( it can be really frustrating.
Did your vet talk about oral corticosteroids or even shots? Maybe they are less invasive vs. Reconcile...

I am just about to finish the 2 month elimination diet with Hydrolized food and no result. Will be going to the vet in the next days to see what else can we do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
831 Posts
Did your vet talk about oral corticosteroids or even shots? Maybe they are less invasive vs. Reconcile...
My advice is to stay far away from steroids. They will make the cat feel better short term but they do absolutely nothing to address the problem, only mask the issue by artificially over-stimulating the adrenal glands, which has very bad effects if used for more than a day or two. Definitely not something you want the cat to be on in any on-going manner. I avoid them completely both for myself and for my animals. It is not any solution.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
My advice is to stay far away from steroids. They will make the cat feel better short term but they do absolutely nothing to address the problem, only mask the issue by artificially over-stimulating the adrenal glands, which has very bad effects if used for more than a day or two. Definitely not something you want the cat to be on in any on-going manner. I avoid them completely both for myself and for my animals. It is not any solution.
I read about the side effects after my cat had a shot of long term steroids that got him sick, but I wonder how come vets are so quick in recommending them.
Is there any other solution to stop the itch and overgrooming issue?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
831 Posts
I read about the side effects after my cat had a shot of long term steroids that got him sick, but I wonder how come vets are so quick in recommending them.
Is there any other solution to stop the itch and overgrooming issue?
Honestly I do not know why vets recommend steroids. My vet does too. She is an old-time and old fashioned vet, and she and I do not agree on everything but she's a super vet and we have a great relationship anyway. I know a lot of modern vets are more likely not to use them and instead recommend more natural approaches.

I think in your place, I would consider going to a naturopathic or even homeopathic vet if there is one in your area. This sounds to me like a systemic problem and treating it symptomatically will not solve it.

Now, I used to be very skeptical about naturopathic vets, and simply thought homeopathy was hogwash. But then my beloved soul-mate cat had a problem that no vet could solve. I took him to a homeopathic vet that someone recommended simply because at that point I would have tried sitting on a flag pole and singing the national anthem for an hour if someone said it might help.

Long story short, the homeopathic remedy worked so well I had almost a new cat within 48 hours and the problem never came back.
Not saying that would happen for you. but it might be worth a try.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
490 Posts
We can develop allergies to everyday products at any time, even things we've used for years. Some other environmental things you could try is changing to a different brand of unscented litter in an uncovered litterbox, vacuuming those hard to reach places under and behind the furniture and any cat beds and trees to remove dust mites, and using unscented laundry detergent with no dryer-sheets. You could note if there's a specific place your cats over-groom, and if so, either remove what they're laying on or cover it with something else. And if you see your cat over-grooming, you could try to distract them with a grooming brush or petting, and give them praise when they're not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
This sounds like an interesting idea...I have actually researched homeopathic vets in my area a couple of weeks ago but I finally let it go. My first thought when doing so is that I would rather try a less aggressive/natural approach, since his condition is not life threatening, and not put nasty meds in his system.

Now you bringing this again in the discussion kind of confirmed my instinct. I will have a check with his regular vet today, will see how this goes and then I identified a doctor that is specialized in nutrition and phytotherapie...will give it a shot.

Thanks for your advice!
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top