Cat question

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    What can I do to help my cat quit pulling her hair out? Right now if we see her chewing on her hair we yell and make her stop, but her once thick, pretty coat is so thin it makes me want to cry.

    It started with fleas. Bro insisted his dog come in and dog brought fleas because bro has decided that flea medications are just poison designed to make your animal die so you buy more animals. Not kidding.

    The fleas are gone and she is being treated with frontline plus, which works well for her. The chewing did not stop.

    Are there things I can add to her diet? She eats mostly Taste Of The Wild dry food with greenies for treats. The food is well rated on the analysis sites.

    Once in a while she gets half a benadryl (up to 4 times a day per vet) but it doesn't seem to help the chewing. She seems to be chewing more out of anxiety than out of itching.

    Any help is appreciated!
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    This is called "barbering" and is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in cats. It quite often begins with a case of fleas, which sets off the "scratching and chewing my fur feels good"

    Keep track of it and you might notice changing patterns as her stress levels increase. it is basically trichotillomania in cats.

    The do have APs for dogs (Prozac), but I am not sure if cats can take that. The last cat I had that did this was before APs were used in humans.

    Yelling at her doesn't help. Please stop right away. She literally cannot help what's she's' doing.

    Meantime, talk to your vet to rule out any skin conditions causing the chewing and fur pulling, and ask him/her about medications to use to help kitty deal with stress.

    Also be aware that it's not natural in the true wild for felines other than lions to live together. Feral cats will gather together at food sources, but go their own ways once they eaten.

    It is possible that even though you don't see any fighting or other overt hositility, the simple presence of other cats (cats that barber are usually on the bottom of the totem pole), she could still be stressed.

    difficult children place huge stress on pets, who pick up not only on difficult child behavior but on the reactions and stresses of humans around them.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Susie - I'm thinking a trip to the vet is called for. Elsie got fleas a couple of years ago and apparently had an allergic reaction to them, not the medications but the fleas themselves. She has very fine, soft, pretty thin hair and I never saw her pulling it out, but in pretty short order she was bald from mid thorax to mid tail. Most pathetic thing you've ever seen. I think we had her on a medication for the allergy for a while, and then it was just a matter of waiting until the hair grew in. Of course, as soon as she was back to her normal looking self, she got a cat bite on her hind end that just got horribly infected (one of those things we didn't see until it ... got really gross) and she ended up with a shaved backside yet again. She was one sorry looking cat for about a year. ;)

    I'd also be concerned about a possible secondary skin infection, especially since apparently cat wounds don't act like human ones - they fester underneath the skin without any obvious signs ... until they become *really* obvious.
  4. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    It's not pleasant to watch, but a kittie 'hood' or cone might be necessary. It prevents them from chewing and scratching but they HATE it. I can't imagine wearing one, but it sure would make me stop scratching myself.

    I had to do this for over a year with my oldest parrot. She was ****** OFF. But, in the end she broke the cycle of plucking. I'd bring that cone out and she'd stop plucking immediately.

    Poor kittie.

  5. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I would rule out allergies first.

    If that's not the problem, then it's probably barbering. Abbey (the kitty, not my imaginary friend) does it. It comes and goes in spurts and it started when she was shaved when she was spayed.
  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    My boy who had this problem licked all the fur off of his undercarriage. Nothing left there but peachfuzz on totally healthy skin.

    That's a give-away for barbering: the skin is perfectly healthy in the area, no redness or itching.

    Theory for the past several years is that it's a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), just like dogs who lick their paws continually while not having any skin disorders.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    The best a Cat can get. Gillette. :surprise:
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Yell is probably too strong for what we do. The vet encouraged us to do it to distract her, we mostly call her name and go up to her - she will let us scratch her or cuddle her and it stops. Sometimes it starts a game of tag. We will touch her - she runs, then she stops and runs TO us, licks or nips an ankle, and runs away. She keeps that up until we literally play tag. So it seems we call her name and then run, but she usually initiates the game.

    I will make sure we are being very gentle. We never want to stress her out.

    She may be stressed by husband's CPAP. Lately she has been trying to attack it even when husband isnot wearing it.

    Not sure if Morgan is a problem. Never had cats who didn't live together just fine. She sure seems to be top dog, in spite of being smaller. We encourage this by making sure she eats first (keeping him away while she eats first - started because she is smaller and we wanted to be sure she didn't stop eating when he arrived 3 years ago), that she gets first pick of most everything. He is fine with-it. Mostly he wants to be as fat as he can and move as little as he can. Sort of like a low energy garfield.

    The vet says it is not a skin problem. I just wondered if there was anything we could do like adding grease or some supplement to help her with this. It just looks strange and like it would bug her.

    Thanks all.
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911


    What if you took a small stuffed animal.....and covered it with some butter or margarine for her to lick? Or even put a dab of butter or (what is the name of that furball treatment they like? Parma something) on a windowsill where she may sit?

    Or even a blob on her paws to keep her from pulling the fur. Then again what if you sprayed her fur with bitter apple?
  10. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Abbey does it in spurts. She didn't have any hair on her belly for 6 months after she was spayed. Then she stopped pulling it out and it grew back. She started again a few months ago: belly, inside of legs, and on her back at the tail, and even the back of the tail. She has stopped and it's growing back.

    I'm not sure what's causing her to do it, but her skin is fine. The vet said maybe her belly is bothering her (she's the one with kidney disease), but she was/is as active as ever - running all over the place, climbing everything, eating normally. I think it's just an anxiety/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) thing for her.

    My mom's cat also pulled the hair out on her back by her tail every spring. No skin problems there either, and it was the only time she did it.
  11. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    You can't use bittering agents on the actual skin, no matter what the labels may say--they are quite irritating.

    One thing that might help with hair regrowth is adding a Brewers' yeast and Biotin supplement to her diet along with a fatty acid supplement.

    Foster and Smith sell a sort of "kit" with all of this stuff in one package. I wouldn't advise putting anything else on the skin there, or on normal skin elsewhere. At worst it'd be irritating. At best, she might start barbering the application area as well.

    Our one guy who barbered off all his belly fur used to get flares whenever one of the females was in season. He was a breeding tom, and of course wasn't getting as much "action" as his gonads were telling him he needed.

    Also, with animals, size doesn't always matter. I've seen plenty of cases where the little one bossed around all the others.

    We had a 13lb (small for a Maine Coon female) girl who ruled over the big boys with an iron paw. All it took was a dirty look on her part to make a 24lb adult male scuttle.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh size doesn't mean a thing with cats. My aunt had 4 of them at one point. Her husband's fave, a perfectly horrid thing (and I adore cats) refused to bathe. Ever. He fought so bad they didn't ever give him a bath cause it was just too much to handle, even with 2 adults. Her one female cat would get the other 2 males to hold this 24 pound cat (NOT a maine coon, just fat) down while she cleaned him. It was a riot. He would gritch and complain and then she would put her head so she looked him in the eye. She would give a low growl and he would try to cower.

    She was barely 10 pounds. It was extra funny to us because she was the daughter of a cat my aunt used to have and until her mama died she was low cat on the totem pole.