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Holes in my cat's skin
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Holes in my cat's skin

We have a young cat who was a stray by our house.  A few weeks ago we had her spayed, and when she came back we started noticing skin lesions on her belly and side.  It's like a ring of dead skin, and then the skin in the middle of the ring just dies and falls off, leaving basically almost a hole in the skin.  We took her to a emergency clinic who prescribed an antibiotic and offered to do a culture for $200 but we couldn't afford that right now.  So the cat is on antibiotics, pain killers, and has a cone so as not to lick the wounds.  They shaved her some more and found even more of these patches on her back.  I have never heard of anything like this, and I want to make sure we take action before it gets any worse.  As far as the cat herself goes, she seems completely normal behaviorally, she doesn't even seem bothered by the holes in her skin.
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Has she had all her shots and been dewormed and all that?

You're describing a common thing with cats, but it's not generally in great frequency. They have a great way of dealing with infections, they form these pockets/holes you're describing, and it isolates and empties the infection out. The difference between people and cats is this seems to be a very painless process for them.

If it's happening over and over, I'd guess it's some form of parasite she's fighting off. The vet couldn't even guess at the cause? The problem is if this is true, the antibiotic is just treating the cause, not the effect.

I can't think of a treatment offhand that I can suggest, because this sounds like an unusual parasite (if it is) and you'd need to know what you're specifically targeting.

Does she really need the pain killers? Can you tell? It's not a good idea if not necessary. We don't want kitty withdrawing, after all!
Otherwise, if you aren't putting a medication on the spots, I'd take the collar off. It serves no purpose otherwise, and cats have natural healing "juices" in their saliva.
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