Thank you Maro,
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, the mystery of what makes a cat incessantly over groom and cause self- trauma like this can be a real challenge to get to the bottom of. This is because feline over grooming can be caused by a number of triggers. The reason I have asked about fleas, diets and such is because the first step to identifying the trigger for his signs is to try to determine if he is grooming because something is irritating his (ie allergies to flea saliva/food/pollens/environmental agents, bacterial skin disease, etc) and thus driving him to do so, or if he is grooming as part of a anxiety/stress response.
Now if he has no other changes to the skin, we can put concerns like bacterial or fungal issues lower on our list of concerns for your lad. As well, a lack of changes in the household or in potentially irritative exposures make stress and contact allergies less likely as well. That all said, the area he is targeting does raise concerns that his signs may be due to (1) a reaction to flea saliva, (2) dietary allergies, or (3) he may have an ear issue (though usually with cat ears you will be able to look at see if there is lots of discharge and inflammation and therefore whether this is a worry).
First, we need to touch on flea saliva allergies (which is very, very common). Now as we consider flea allergies and treatments for those creepy crawlies, I must warn you that BM is not a very good product for fleas. The reason those products are on the grocery store shelves is because they are old and the level of parasite resistance is very high (since those fleas that would have been sensitive died when the powder components were new 20+ years ago. And the ones that remain and harass our cats today are the descendants of those who resisted those drugs back in the day). So, we find it may work on occasion (and its great when it can) but more often we find this product lets us down more often then now.
That aside, the reason why we always have to be aware of fleas is because this is one of the most common types of allergies of the cat. The problem with wee kitties with sensitivities to fleas that they aren't allergic to the fleas themselves. They are allergic to its saliva. So, all it takes is one flea having a nibble to start things off. The body releases histamines and the allergic response takes over. This irritates the skin and in mild flare ups (often what we see if a suicidal flea bites a treated cat) then we can just see overgrooming and some will even start pulling out tufts of hair. And the back can be common sites to see this. And since the problem is an allergic response, the cats keep grooming and get caught in a vicious cycle or irritation. The fact that this over grooming is going on long enough to cause scabbing scratches is suspicious of a chronic allergy that is just not settling because he keeps itching. And if it is flea saliva induced, the flea that may have bitten his is probably long since dead (so we may see no sign of it when examining the coat). Cats caught in this kind of allergic response often respond well to religious flea treatment (ideally with newer products like Advantage II or Advocate) but sometimes need additional short term medications to soothe the inflamed immune response and help break the cycle.
Turning our attentions to the other new potential source of allergens for Christiano, we have to consider the new diet. Just like people, cats can be sensitive to certain proteins in their diet. Often food will appear as diffuse areas of itchiness since the protein in their food is distributed all over the body and affects the body as a whole. That said, we do sometimes see dogs and cats just be bothered at the head/ears region when a food allergen is to blame.
In these cases, these animals often benefit when we can find the allergen that is settling them off. This can take time and patience but can be done at home (your vet can be a good advisor on proceeding with this) via an elimination diet with one protein source. Since the Science Plan is a new diet to him, I would suggest that you might want to trial him on his old diet for 4-6 week period to see if the new diet is to blame. The reason we do this for this length of time is to give time for the previous diet’s allergens to pass out of his system. If he settles, then we'd have to consider that something in the new diet didn't agree with him and that protein source may need to be avoided in the future.
Otherwise, to try to break any allergic cycle (and rule out the allergies for causing his signs in general), you can try treating his with an anti-histamine. Anti-histamines can settle allergic skin reactions in early stages or mild cases since the skin irritation is an allergic response. Typically in these cases, we will use Piriton for these wee ones (ie 1-2mg or 1/4 – 1/2 tablet of a 4mg Piriton tablet up to twice daily). Do note that while anti-histamines will break that the irritation cycle, it can make kitties drowsy. Therefore, we always keep the dose low and if he were to be drowsy on this, then we'd reduce the dose to once daily for her. And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your kitty has any pre-existing conditions or is on any ot his medication without speaking to your vet. Furthermore if it has been a few weeks since the BM, I would suggest retreating his with a good quality flea spot on treatment (ie Advantage II, Advocate, etc).
Furthermore, if his skin is very irritated and the wounds open, then salt water bathing can be helpful. But if while you are treating he is still scratching, then you may also have to consider using a buster collar or baby t-shirt (with an elasticated waist) to protect his skin. Otherwise, do keep hos back nails clipped short to prevent him from hurting himself and limit his potential self-damage.
Overall, it sounds like Christiano is having a allergy irritation that is causing itchiness around the neck. Therefore, it is worth considering an alternative flea product for the future but also using a short course of anti-histamines to break the itchiness cycle. In case the new diet is to blame, you may want to trial him on his old diet to see if this is triggering his itch. So, do try all of the above but if you don’t find his skin settling with these changes then it would be worth seeing your vet to discuss treatment with a strong long lasting injectable anti-inflammatories to halt the itching if necessary.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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