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Excessive Grooming and pulling out fur.

Discussion in 'Cats - all breeds / types' started by Lisa, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Lisa

    Lisa New Member

    My cat is about 13 years old and for as long as i can remember, she's been grooming and tugging on her
    fur at the same time. The fur on her back is much shorter than the rest, from all the pulling!
    The vet originally said it was an allergic reaction to fleas...although she's an indoor cat. I've was using the flea drops once a month
    on the back of her neck and it seemed to let up a bit. Now just recently she's doing it again....
    How can I tell (without spending big $$$) if it's a food allergy, fleas, or some sort of stress disorder?. I'm thinking stress
    related, 'cause we just moved a couple of months ago, and also got a new parakeet.
    But she was also doing this YEARS ago, for no apparent reason. She is all white, long hair, beautiful!, besides the reverse Mohawk on her back! :roll: She's my baby and I hate seeing her pulling her fur, especially if the food I'm giving her is causing it.
  2. Mary_NH

    Mary_NH New Member

    you could try different foods but you'd have to wait for some time in between to know if this was the cause and I would think if it was food more area than just her back would be affected.

    I know with Siamese cats that are fur pullers it's usually stress related. I have one meezer that gets stressed over the simplest things - like my son's guitar...that thing scares her silly. She becomes a frantic licker when she's stressed.

    Have you considered trying something like Bach's Rescue Remedy to help keep her calm? See how it works. Even a Feliway Diffuser (or two) placed in rooms your cat frequents might help her keep calm. I would try one of these 2 things first since you would see the results quicker than trying different foods (or the diffuser and different foods). I've never used the Feliway Diffuser but I know lots of Siamese rescuers that swear by them and Siamese in shelters stress out big time.
  3. Lisa

    Lisa New Member


    Thanks for that advice, but I don't think I know what either one of those are. Bach's Rescue Remedy? Diffuser??? Both new to me.
    Sounds interesting though :lol: and probably easier than switching food!

    Could you explain??
  4. Mary_NH

    Mary_NH New Member

    Bach's Rescue Remedy is a made of flower essences and has a calming effect - it does contain some alcohol so you want to go easy on it - but it does work for some animals...people also use it. My GSD is terrified of thunderstorms and I give this to her when a storm is predicted...she is still afraid but more relaxed (not jumping into the shower or trying to jump onto tables and stuff). You can get Bach's at GNC or any natural food store.

    The feliway diffuser is a plug-in type of thing like a Glade plug-in. You insert a bottle of the stuff that emits (well I'll spell it wrong anyway so it doesn't matter) stuff that helps the kitty to relax - I believe it's some type of hormone balancing. Check out Fosters and Smith online - they have them with an explanation. You need more than one though - I was told one in the rooms the cat goes into the most. Siamese rescuers swear by this thing - but it doesn't work on all cats. Takes about 2 weeks to see any change if it's going to work.
  5. Lisa

    Lisa New Member

    Thanks again

    :y_the_best: Interesting stuff... I'll check it out!

    Thanks again
  6. fleafly

    fleafly New Member

    This article talks about the common things that cause skin problems in cats:

    http://www.nzymes.com/Articles/cat_skin ... oblems.htm

    The area where your cat pulls the fur out could tell you what the problem is. Allergies, except for flea allergies, tend to cause excessive grooming of the belly, legs, and feet. Flea allergies cause them to groom along their back. If she was still doing it with the flea drops (Advantage or Frontline) it probably isn't flea allergies.

    Cats that excessively groom b/c of stress, mental problems etc.. tend to do it along each side of their spine towards their tail. This is called Feline psychogenic alopecia.

    The easiest way to see what is causing the behavior is to try your cat on a short course (1-2 weeks) of prednisone. If the problem is an allergy the prednisone will stop the itching and the grooming should stop. This is true even if it is a flea allergy. If the problem persists while the cat is on prednisone, you know it is behavior related. Then you can start trying different things. You can try natural remedies or drugs. I had to put my cat on prozac, as long as she gets her prozac she doesn't pull her fur. If she misses it even for one day she starts up again.

    One side note, I tried my cat on a course of steroids and thought the problem had stopped. She pulls her fur in cycles. After keeping her on the steroids a little longer she started up again. I had just caught her in between hair pulling cycles. Just something to be aware of.
  7. Chessmind

    Chessmind New Member

    Hi. It looks like you already have a lot of good advice here. I just wanted to add that indoor cats also can get fleas. When people walk into the home they can carry fleas on their clothes/body and the fleas then find a nice new home on a cat/dog. So, even indoor cats should be treated for fleas. You can also try grooming your cat with a flea comb all over it's body to see if you can find any fleas.
  8. Lisa

    Lisa New Member


    She grooms, she the way you mentioned... down the back and sides to her tall! She also goes after the belly a lot and it gets quite red at times.

    Iv'e never actually foud a flea on her and since she's all white, I would think would be easy to spot. Although, I have notices the little black/grey specks on her skin...OH AND ALSO, she is very sensitive if I pet or touch that area of her back, her skin actually twitches and she seems to get a little irritated by it.

    As far as giving her any kind of medication, orally, that's almost impossible. It's really a struggle to get them down her throat... even hidding them in the food doesn't work. But if it would help her, I'd deal with it.
  9. Chessmind

    Chessmind New Member

    Here is a flea trick: Wet a paper towel and place it on your cat where you see those 'black specks.' Then look at the paper towel. Does the wet paper towel now also have red/light red specks on it too? If so your cat has fleas. The red specks are blood.
  10. Lisa

    Lisa New Member

    flea trick

    Yeah, I remember my vet showing me that flea trick in his office. I forgot about that.... I'll try it tonight. Will that mean that's what's causing the hair pulling?? Or is it just adding to whatever else is irritating her?

    It seems as soon as her fur starts to fill back in again, she starts all over.

    She doesn't scratch at all.... she just licks and pulls :roll:
  11. fleafly

    fleafly New Member

    The prednisone will definately help if it is flea allergies. It will calm the reaction down. Then if you keep her on Advantage or Frontline the problem might go away.

    I know how some cats are with medication. Mine that is on prozac is bad, but she isn't the worst. I use a pill popper with her. It lets me get the pill far enough down her throat that she can't spit it out. Even with that it sometimes takes a few tries. A few ideas that might work:

    -Crush the pill up and put it in soft food
    -Crush the pill mix it with water and give it orally with a needleless syringe. I have to do that with one of my cats that tries to bite me.
    -If the pill is small enough you can put it in nutrical or petromalt and they will lick it up. This worked when my prozac kitty had smaller pills.
    -If she wont lick the nutrical or petromalt, you can put the pill in some and stick it on the roof of her mouth. She should get the pill down.
    -Put the pill inside some easy cheese. Animals love that stuff.

    If it is flea allergies you might only need to do the prednisone for a week or so. It would definately be worth it.

    It it is flea allergies, you have to treat her every month whether or not she is pulling her fur. It only takes one flea bite to set them off if they are really sensitive. Then even when you do treat them it might take steroids to calm the reaction down.
  12. Lisa

    Lisa New Member


    Thanks so much for all this information... :y_the_best: it's much more than I've ever gotten from my vet!

    I think you're right about the whole flea situation. I was using the drops(advantage, i think... i get confused with frontline) for a couple of months and she seemed to have stopped the fur pulling and it was growing back and I didn't think I needed to use the medication anymore. So I did stop using it on her for a few months (plus, it's gotten more expensive!)

    I'm gonna stick with it this time and see how she does.

    Oh, and thanks for the tips on giving her the pills..... I've tried almost all of those and a few ideas of my own! She's a tough one when it comes to pills.
  13. fleafly

    fleafly New Member

    Sometimes vets, and human doctors, don't really explain what is happening. They just tell you what to do about it.

    She needs to be on the drops every month. But like I said if she is really having an allergic reaction to them she will need the prednisone to make the itching stop, the drops alone wont do it.

    I've had to try almost everything with some of my cats, it's still difficult to give them pills, but they when they need them they have to have them!
  14. KittyTales

    KittyTales New Member

    Sorry about this!

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