My 10 year old male cat, Buster, licks so much that he is bald on his belly and the underside of all four of his fore arms. He is always after himself in some way... if he is not licking himself bald he is scratching himself. He has scabs in front of his ears that he scratches at all the time.
I am embarassed to say that the licking all started 6 years ago when i brought home a kitten. Buster is a needy cat... he needs attention all the time, so I thought I'd get a friend for him. The kitten brought mites but wasn't bothered by them... though Buster was. I found out that some cats are just more sensitive than others... it doesn't surprise me that Buster has sensitive skin. The problem was though that he was after himself all the time. After taking him to the vet and treating him and the kitten for the mites, Buster did get better though he continued to lick himself a lot... he always preened a lot so i didn't think much of it until i noticed the bald spots. When I took him to the vet I spent about $100 and found out nothing. They did tests which were negative and said that he could have an environmental allergy, a food allergy, or he could have anxiety. I walked away with nothing more than what i knew before, other than less money.
So, now we have moved a couple times and for a year now we have been in our newly built home with mainly laminate flooring and only carpet in the bedrooms, which one of the bedrooms in the "cat room". So my point in that is I really don't feel as if it's environmental... but if it is, what would I even take away from his environment?
I have had the cats on Natures Balance Green Pea & Duck Hypoallergenic dry food for a couple weeks now and they hate it... it took them about 4-5 days to actually eat it, even when it was mixed with their previous food, which they liked. Finally when they did start eating it, I don't feel as if they eat as much as they used to or as much as they should. I also have noticed within the last few months that Buster is loosing weight. A few years ago he used to be like 14 LBS. and now he is about 7LBS.
I have taken away all treats and even cat nip so that the only thing he is digesting is the hypoallergenic food and water. sometimes he'll try to eat the dog food, which only happens once in a great while, or sometimes he'll lick a dirty dish in the sink.. again, that doesn't happen too often.
The scabs on his ears started about 6 for so months ago... around the time that we got a puppy who likes to play with Buster. When they play Buster's head is usually in the dogs mouth but the dog is not rough, though I could see how the dog could puncture his skin and then maybe Buster just keeps scratching at it... I don't know. Is it possible for Buster be allergic to the dog or the dog's saliva, or even the other cat for that matter? I have tried putting a .05 cortisone spray, for cats, on not only his ears but also his paws and stomach. Even though it seems to relieve him a bit, mainly on his ears, he still licks at the sprayed bald spots causing him to vomit. And whenever he see's me with the spray bottle or the cotton swab he runs away from me... he hates it... I don't know if it hurts his scabs or if he just doesn't like me holding him down to put it on.
Even though I would gladly take him to the vet if it meant that he would even be partially relieved of his scratching and/or licking, but I am afraid that we will again pay money for nothing. Today I am going to buy the anti-anxiety plug in and collar to see how that works. If anyone has any thoughts or opinions on this matter please help... it breaks my heart to see him uncomfortable pretty much all the time.
P.S. I took his temperature today and it is normal.
Stefoni, I do know that some members have given Benedryl to their cats, however, you would want to check with your vet on the dosage. I am concerned about the weight loss. I do know it's important a cat gets enough nutrition, otherwise you're looking at fatty liver disease so I would suggest you get some food Buster likes and let him eat to gain some weight since obviously the new diet isn't working nor does he like it. Wet food is much better than dry since cat's, especially males need the moisture to prevent urinary crystals from forming. I'm sorry to be suggesting changing food again since I'm highly aware of how difficult and stressful it is to change a cat's food. There are many good wet foods you can find at Petco such as Wellness and Tikki just to name a couple off the top of my head.
Yes, some cats are more sensitive than others. Has the vet done a scraping to retest for mites on Buster? It may just be that Buster is a stressed out cat and between the new kitten 6yrs ago, then a new puppy six months ago, Buster's anxiety is through the roof. It's certainly possible an anti-anxiety med would benefit him. It couldn't hurt to try.
Our last cat had the same chronic licking problem and I mean All the time so I can relate to your frustration. It's heartbreaking to watch your kitty so uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I don't have any recommendations on how we handled it because we lost her at only 3yrs old.
I assume you mean that phermone (sp?) plug? I'm not sure about the collar you're talking about.
Hopefully someone else will have an idea for you since I don't believe I've been much help.
Maybe, hopefully, Buster has just lost weight because he doesn't like the new food. In my opinion, it is much more important for him to eat and maintain his weight, than to be on a diet that he can't stand. I agree w/ Jade to get him back on the food that he likes. See how does after 2 wks. If after 2 wks he doesn't gain weight back, then it's time for a vet visit. My gut tells me that you'll see good results!! =)
As far as the obsessive licking goes, that could be from a flea allergy and/or the stress of the many moves that you've made. Cats are absolutely terrible when dealing w/ change. They need the security of "sameness" every day. They like routine of knowing where they live, their yard, where their litter box is located, and being fed around the same time every day. Any change in routine, you might see some OCD symptoms in cats. A new person in the home can also upset cats into OCD behaviors.
I would try to get some flea preventative-Frontline, Advantage, etc., if you don't already have your cats on these. Change the diet back to the one they liked. And, last, but not least, try to stay in one place(of course, if you can), it'll give Buster more security and happiness, and less obsessive behaviors.
Jade 59 ~ Yes, they did the scrape test and everything was negative.
Yes, I meant the pheromone plug in and the pheromone collar. He seems to be sleeping more and he never was one to sleep so much but maybe it's good for him... we'll see :)
zodiacqueen ~ Sorry, I guess Frontline is a "given" for me and all pets, even if the cats are just inside, but i administer Frontline monthly to all three of our pets. They are also up to date with all of their shots. They don't have fleas or ticks or mites or anything that the vet has tested.
In regards to the moves, instead of explaining that I moved when we got married and then we moved (for the final time) last year when we built our home, I just said that we moved a couple times... I guess I didn't think I needed to explain how many times and why... I highly doubt it is because of the moves, just with past experience with him... I moved twice with him before this even started... this all started when I got the 2nd cat, who had mites, but the itching never stopped even after the treatment... which i was trying to explain above.
Also, it seems as if he started loosing the weight before I changed the food...
It seems as if everyone is pretty much on the same page, that he may be OC... hopefully the pheromone plug in and collar help... I'll let you all know how that goes.
P.S. Is it possible for a cat to be allergic to other cats and/or dogs saliva, hair, or dander?
If anyone has any other ideas please let me know... Thank You!
hi Stefoni, you hve been given some good advice above, I'd like to add my thoughts and aMORE reading for you. first of all please don't add the collar, kitty is in enough stress and those are cruel IMO.
Secondly do as ZQ suggested and stop the hypoallergenic food, cats hate that stuff. give him the usual brand he likes but perhaps something other than chicken if he'll accept, he's gotta get eating again.
He is without a doubt allergic to something.....either food or environmental which could be cleaning products, mites, dust, hair sprays, candle scents, room freshners.....etc.
people cough and sneeze and have runny eyes with allergies with animals the allergies manifest as a SKIN condition!!!!!
Have you gone to a non scented litter? try that.
I will also give you more pages to read, as you'll see there are 50+ posts on pet lovers in the same condition.
read the thread than on the bottom of the page click on where it says RELATED DISCUSSIONS...to read what the 56 others have tried., some good advice there.
please keep the updates and questions coming. my computer will be away for a few days but Jade and ZodiacQ will be here and can help.
We WILL help the poor little guy and the suffering he is going thru with this itch. hang in there.
We have a kitty that is very itchy/scratchy and just started developing bald patches on his legs - and the hair on his abdomen is definitely thinner than it should be.
When we first noticed he was itchy/scratchy (several weeks after rescuing him in May), our vet suggested we go ahead and try a food elimination, but that the type of scratching you describe (that our kitty also has) is usually environmental.
We tried the food elimination over three months - and his itchy/scratchy didn't change. He's back on the food he loves. They suggested we put him on benadryl. I tried - and I'm good at pilling kitties. But benadryl is VERY bitter, and if you don't get it down their throat and quick, they foam like CRAZY and run around tossing that foam everywhere. It's horrible to watch.
I researched, and found that some vets are having success treating cat allergies with zyrtec. The generic is cetirizine and it is available OTC. Our kitty weighs 10 pounds. The vet had us start with 1/2 of a human dose (24 hour pill, 30mg). We now give him 1/2 pill in the morning and 1/2 pill at night (a human dose split in two), and for a while his itchy/scratchy definitely got better.
I also suffer seasonal allergies, and the last week has been horrible. So given that our Chumley's itchy/scratchy has gotten so much worse, I have to assume his problem is like mine - seasonal allergies, and the cetirizine isn't helping him as it should be. (Thankfully it really helps me).
I don't know about the environment where you live, but if there are molds and pollens, this might not have changed much with the move, and an antihistamine like zyrtec/cetirizine may help.
Also, do you use the same detergents/softener/dryer sheets as before the move? What we did today was purchase hypoallergenic chemical-free, fragrance-free detergents and softener. We want to eliminate this as a possible cause of problems for him. We also purchased HEPA air filters - maybe they'll help both of us.
I've also done another round of research on allergies - this time with a focus on natural treatments. I've found that extra virgin, organic, cold pressed coconut oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Many people are using it on themselves and their pets to treat everything from eczema to allergies (and a number of other things). While at the health food store today, we purchased this as well, though Nutiva is a brand that I believe can be purchased at Walmart.
For a cat with allergies, we're to give him approximately 2 tablespoons/day, though it's important to start small and work up to that. I dipped my finger in it (it's thick, not like other vegetable oils) and let him smell it - he didn't seem too interested. So I rubbed a little on his bald spots. I figure - it may help provide some relief, and if he licks at it, he'll lick it off, so just another way to get it in him.
I rubbed some on my arms (I have hives because I'm allergic to our cats, and I have eczema - probably related to my allergies). It's quite soothing, actually. I'm going to be using the coconut oil myself - maybe I'll be able to leave the zyrtec behind.
Happy to keep you posted, but thought I'd share the information with you if you wanted to pursue it.
I hate to say this, but if you want a cat to stop licking himself, it might be worth your while to get him an e-collar. That way his fur can grow back.
Everyone else has given you good advice about how to try and help your cat.
sorry I beg to differ, the collar will only prevent him from licking....it will not cure the existing problem and unless the collar is on as a permanent fixture he will resume the licking soon as its off.
can you imagine having an itch that you can't scratch?....wouldn't that drive you crazy? a cats no different, it would only add to the anxiety. collars are something meant for a very short time, after a surgery to allow a wound to heal, they are NO solution to a chronic disease....and in those cases cruel.
opus88 ~ I did take off the pheromone collar because it makes sense that it could make him depressed or something worse. For some reason he doesn't lick and scratch as much with the collar on though, and it doesn't seem to bother him... but immediately after I take the collar off he licks and scratches again.
I'll try the non-scented litter... that's a good idea, thanks :)
FeistyFeral ~ Thanks for the info... there's a lot there that i'll have to check into :)
I realized tonight, and I feel horrible that I didn't realize earlier, but I don't think Buster has been eating! :( He is a very gentle cat and he bit my finger trying to get some treats that I was giving the cats. The acted almost hysterical around the treats... I will be getting him back on his regular diet tomorrow! Poor baby :(
Thank you all for the advice, but don't stop, keep it coming... any little thing could help him more.
Good morning. I'm sure you thought of this, but you may want to feed Buster slowly so he doesn't gobble and vomit or get diarrhea due to lack of food these last few days? wks? You know, small portions throughout the day.
Oh, and I believe Opus suggested taking Buster off any type of poultry as this is often the culprit of allergies as well.
Keep us posted, Stefoni. Your posts will always bring this post to the top and you never know who might have a new idea.
yep... been feeding him small portions of a wet canned food that he likes :)
i've heard that chicken is rich anyway so i've always tried to keep them on turkey... it's healthier and it has that tri-whatever that makes you sleepy, which i heard could help if he's OC. but i just bought today a dry food with salmon this time to see if removing the poultry helps in any way.
Buster seems to be doing better... of course eating is a plus.
I put the pheromone collar back on him since he doesn't lick or scratch when he has it on... as soon as I take it off though he starts licking and scratching again. That seems odd to me though... it's as if the smell isn't what's working but the collar it's self is holding him back. It's not like the Elizabethan collar or something... it's not restrictive at all... it's just a small collar. So I don't really know what is helping him exactly... could the smell of the collar work that well, that immediately when i take it off he starts licking and scratching, and immediately when I put it back on he stops right away?
Well this is interesting. I just looked up these pheromone collars since I've only heard of the plug ins on this forum. It said, "the pheromone collar mimics the pheromone that the mother cat produces to calm and reassure her kittens. Cats recognize these pheromones throughout life. It mimics the natural way to help cats cope with new and fearful situations."
It sure seems like Buster is immediately reactive to the smell which it Must be since the collar isn't restrictive. I guess we should rejoice in this, yes? :)
Glad to hear Buster is eating and feeling better. Keep us posted, Stefoni.
I would rather not start a new post since you all know what the situation is with Buster... He seems to be better, not only with the licking and scratching but also he is eating :)
But now he has a new issue :(
Before, the cats had to go into the laundry room to get to their food, water, and litter box... I also had a 2nd litter box close by, just not in their "cat room". It's sometimes hard for the cats to get to the laundry room to go potty or eat, etc. because Sienna (the dog) wants to play with them so I thought that it would be easier for them to get to the food, water, and litter box if I had it in their room (especially Rittalin, because he doesn't like play with Sienna). Also, Buster seemed to be sleeping more and staying in their "cat room", I felt that it might help them if I moved their food, water, and 1 litter box into their room. It is normal for my 2nd cat to rarely leave the room... he's pretty much a loner... but Buster has changed since I put the collar on him... he now also stays in that room, unless he sees me on the couch and then he comes and lays by me. I noticed that last few nights, when he lays by me, that he smells... like he has poo stuck on his hair... but I checked and he doesn't so I didn't think much of it. Today I noticed that he was laying right in the litter box! He didn't even come out right away like he usually does when he sees me... he would usually meow and come right to me to get attention. I had to sit down and talk to him for a while before he would come out and then he almost seemed leery of me, was kind of skittish, and then went back into the litter box. He didn't even let me pet him. So I coaxed him out with some canned food, which he loves... he ate the food and went back into the litter box :(
So, this collar is somehow affecting him so he's in the "cat room" all the time, he doesn't play with Sienna (our dog) anymore, he doesn't beg for half as much attention as he needed before, and is now laying in the litter box. HELP!!! I don't even know which is the lesser of 2 evils... do I let him lick and scratch himself until he's balled in places or do I let him hide all day!!!???
P.S. I also have a small cat house in their room which Buster could hide in if he wanted... but no, he chooses the litter box (which has a cover on it) :(
Also, unless someone suggests something different, I will be moving the cat litter box back out of the room today... I may even move the food and water back to the laundry room. What are your thoughts???
hey dear this is a real STRONG indication that he is having pain.....either with peeing of pooing....he may well have a UTI and or crystals....if he has the crystals in his bladder its like us having a urinary tract infection and you know how PAINFUL that can be, besides the crystals will BLOCK OFF his urinary tract(urethra) and when this becomes plugged his bladder can burst. Males are especially prone to this!!!!
Please don't waste any time.....get him into a Vet asap. this can be a medical emergency. Have the Vet do a urinalysis and also a PH test of the urine.
this has NOTHING to do with where the litter box is, its definitely a very clear sign of pain!!! and very common, he feels like he has to pee all the time so thats why he doesn't want to leave the box. you know with a uti when we get one, the irritation feels like we have to go even after we just did.
okay... after I read your post I called the vet to schedule an apt. They actually said that it's not anything to be worried about : / I guess I'll watch him closer, since I moved the litter box out of the room, and I'll make sure he's drinking enough water too and then if he doesn't seem better then I'll call again : /
Stef, if I were you, I would insist on an appt. Many people like yourself come to a forum such as this because their vet can't find the problem and continually tell the owner there's "nothing to worry about" when they know different. Opus has a male cat who's been through the crystal nightmare and please, I would encourage you to listen to her advice.
I think this may all go back to the very first sentence in your very first post. Cats will lick their belly and surrounding areas if they're in pain "down there" From the description of Buster's behavior now, please don't wait. Better to be safe than sorry, yes? Call back and make that appt, honey. I feel this is urgent!
they're closed now of course so I'll call back 2morrow morning... thanks for the 2nd opinion :)
I did move the litter box... and I'm gonna watch him pretty close... it just seems like one thing after another with him. poor little guy :(
Well, I thought I'd update you all on how things went @ the vet...
$200+ later we still don't know anything more than we did before :( The vet thinks that Buster might be a little constipated, and that's why he's laying in the litter box.
He did the regular exam of course, but he also did a "Comprehensive Blood Panel" test, a "Complete Blood Count" test, and a "Vet Scan T4/Cholesterol" test... all is normal.
Even though it makes me feel better on some level that his tests came back as "normal", we're really no better off than we were before. He did give Buster a prescription, which may or may not help him. It's just some more trial and error.
Frustrated and getting torn up inside by watching Buster be miserable :(
well all I can say is as frustrating as it can be to be searching and not finding anything is better than the alternative....
Do you think he's constipated??? how often does he have a bowel movement? and are they really hard?
What did he give a prescription of?...............and is Buster still eating good?
Yes, like I said it makes me feel better on some level.
I would say that his bowel was a bit hard before I took him to the vet and there was the possibility that he was straining, but now on Prednisolone it seems to be better. Even though he's not laying in the litter box he is laying in the cat carrier by the litter box. I put it there so he would have an alternative place to lay, near the litter box... at least it's not in the litter box. Maybe I should move the cat carrier?... now that his bowel is better maybe he'll move back to their "cat room"?
It's hard to say how often he's going since I have 2 cats : / I clean the litter boxes every day but I don't know who's doing what. and with him always by the litter box I don't notice when he goes, since he doesn't pass by me anymore to get there... he's just always in that room : /
He is definitely eating well... the vet recommended putting him on an all canned food diet so I feed him separately and he eats it all.
lol... and the funny thing about his weight... the vet said that he was very happy with his weight and he wouldn't recommend him gaining anymore. uggg... I was so worried about him loosing the weight and here the vet is happy with the weight loss : /
yeah go figure, maybe his weight is now ideal however still doesn't explain the rapid loss...I don't think these Vets hear us very well at times?
its hard to know in a multi cat household whos doing what and when, if you need to do a check just isolate in a separate room(with a box and food/water of course, until you see some results..than you will know what his movements look like,on the other hand if he's in that room for days without a movement you KNOW theres a problem.
I hope it was just a case of constipation, time will tell. prednisone can give loose bowels so monitoring right now isn't a good idea.
Can't understand EVER why a Vet gives out antib's without a firm dx?? antib's should only be used when warranted just like with us......urrrrh.
So keep an eye on him, I do hope that this will be the end of his problems.
Does he still have the itchies? did the Vet address that at all?
He doesn't seem to be scratching and licking like he used to... The Vet said that if he has an allergy the prednisone could possibly help. So, it seems, as of now, that it's helping :)
The problem though now is the way he's acting... I moved the cat carrier from the laundry room, where one of the litter boxes is, to the "cat room". I'm trying to get him out of the litter box and back in the cat room... The cat room was where he and my other cat would pretty much hang out almost all day. Now I take him into the room and he almost seems frightened. After I talked to him a bit he finally turned around to see that the cat carrier was in the cat room... he went in it and is still there. I'm just happy that he's back in the cat room and not in the litter box. But he is just acting weird : / He doesn't play anymore either. :(
yes the prednisone will help(skin issues) but just temporarily while he's on it, it could also be causing him to feel a bit puny. Steroids should never be used indiscriminately, the can weaken the immune system and mask serious illnesses, as well as cause diabetes.
After this course of treatment or if it doesn't appear to be having any benefits please question your Vet on continuing.
I just can't put my finger on what maybe causing him to be so lethargic. the tests are normal. Did the Vet do a urinalysis?...is he concentrating his urine normally is there blood present?..hard to see without a urinalysis since he's using a litter box, the only time I can tell with my Nemo is the odd occasion when he'll pee on the floor.
I don't know Stef, what to suggest, other than like your Vet said just a wait and see and to keep a close eye out for other symptoms....poor baby, he's not feeling well and can't tell us whats the matter.
The vet mentioned something about his bladder being empty so they couldn't do a urinalysis... I prob should have asked but I don't know how he came to the conclusion that his bladder was empty : /
I haven't seen any blood in the litter box and he never has an accident so that's good.
He seems to be doing better... but it's just so odd that he doesn't want to be in the cat room.
thanks for everything :) yeah, I can only just wait and see.
Seriously if you don't think he is licking out of pain, or flea problem - try changing his litter first. I brought Bubba to the vet and he suggested cutting out the chicken and grain from his diet. It didn't help. Then potatoes. Nope. They he was going to put him on medication and I read somewhere that the cats litter might become an irritant on their paws and under carrige. Bubba was bald on his stomach, inner back and front legs and arm pits so I switch from Fresh Step, unscented litter, to the organic, Worlds Best Cat Litter and within a two days the OCD licking had stopped. It was a blessing in the long run, because this litter has NO DUST and he doesn't seem to fling it all over, it weigh less to haul in, last longer and works just as well containing odors ( I live in a tiny aprartment so that is priority #1 for me.) So I would try that first before anything. Simple, cheap and easy fix. Good Luck
Stefoni, I came to this site for basically the same reasons. I have a 15 year old cat who is doing the same thing. We are trying to find answers for this problem as well.I have found that a weekly or bi-weekly bath does relieve some of her discomfort. Be careful to use a good, non stripping type.Use one that is gentle. I am a hair stylist and thought, hmmmm, how would I help a client? Paul Mitchell has a line of "Tea Tree" products that are very good for human scalp issues. The animal shampoos don't work to relieve as well. Another thing that we have been doing is using our own "fish oil" capsules. I puncture one and put it in a small bowl and she loves it.Once a day.
hi.....the fish oil capsules are very good for skin issues for cats and I hope that will help your kitty.
I will caution tho, that anything with TEA TREE OIL is very toxic to cats...besides continued washing will only dry out his coat/skin and contribute to more itching related dryness..
have you tried changing to a more natural type of litter such as yesterdays news or one of the walnut shelled kinds rather than clay?
THANK YOU! This seems so obviously cruel that I am surprised anyone would choose it. Also, as you stated it really is not getting to the root but rather treating the symptoms-- and treating them poorly I might add.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.