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Ask Dr Scott Nimmo Your Own Question
Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon.
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20937
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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Hi There My cat has had a real ongoing issue with self mutilation.

Customer Question

Hi There

My cat has had a real ongoing issue with self mutilation. We thought it was initially FAD, and as a result she has taken anti allergy pills and steroids. However 2 months on (of which shes been wearing an e collar the entire time!) she is still self mutilating whenever we take the cone off.

My vet seems very unhelpful and is unable to suggest anything else at all - I am at my wits end and worried I will need to have her put to sleep if this continues.

Thanks - Helen
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 3 years ago.

Scott Nimmo :

Hello and welcome. My name is Scott and I am an experienced small animal veterinary surgeon, I will be very pleased to work with you today and will try my best to answer your question to your satisfaction.

Scott Nimmo :

Hello and welcome. My name is Scott and I am an experienced small animal veterinary surgeon, I will be very pleased to work with you today and will try my best to answer your question to your satisfaction.

Scott Nimmo :

sorry , clicked that twice ...

Scott Nimmo :

What you are seeing could well be caused by an allergic skin condition so hence the steroids and anti-allergy drugs ... However ....

Scott Nimmo :

If these drugs fail then the next most common cause would be compulsive disorders have been described in the cat such as feline psychogenic alopecia. This is where the cat pulls at its fur for no particular reason like a nervous teenager biting their nails. And of course once it is established the itch scratch cycle takes effect and this perpetuates things.

Scott Nimmo :

Where stress may be a factor or a feline compulsive disorder is suspected your vet may prescribe very small doses of tranquilisers.

JACUSTOMER-1j4aa7wn- : I see. So is there a cure for this or would she need to live in a cone forever. She is not happy and I feel the cone is making her very distressed.
Scott Nimmo :

I have sometimes had very good success with a drug called Amitriptyline

Scott Nimmo :

It is frustrating I know and there are no guarantees but sometimes cures are possible.

Scott Nimmo :

I would try the tranquilliser now if I was handling such a case because if the cat leaves her skin alone so it completely heals then that could sort it.

Scott Nimmo :

You see in the final stages of healing the skin can be very itchy.

Scott Nimmo :

Beyond that you might want to look at the root causes of the allergy rather than your current treatment. Try a prescription hypoallergenic diet for example or desensitisation.

Scott Nimmo :

Also a skin biopsy might point to a precise diagnosis and that can lead to precise treatments, worth thinking about ...

Scott Nimmo :

Until you have a plan of action though it may be best that the hood remains but do not be dissuaded, there are things you can try still ...

JACUSTOMER-1j4aa7wn- : Thanks Scott. I will speak to my vet about this.
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 3 years ago.
Glad to have advised you Helen,

This sort of disease can get both the owner and the cat down and vets can become dissuaded with it as well but with enthusiasm often something can be done if you work through all the likely causes.

Where I was making no headway in practice I often referred these cases to a specialist vet with a further degree in dermatology.

Regards,

Scott