Thank you Judy,
First, as I am sure you can appreciate, cats are not renowned for their abilities to cope with change. So, when major life changes occur, they often will develop vices (ie overgrooming, inappropriate elimination, etc) in their struggle to cope. And for poor Mog, she will have been through a very stressful time as of late, with the loss of her companion and the arrival of new cats (who she will see as invaders at this stage). So, it is quite likely that her signs started as a stress based overgrooming. That said, if you are now seeing sores, crusts, scabs, constant grooming, and a spread to different areas; then we also now have a secondary skin reaction. And this will need to be addressed before we can even tackle her overly stressful situation.
Now since this has been progressing for a while,the skin changes are going to cause itchiness, and we likely have a bacterial components; it would be ideal to have a check up with her vet. They can evaluate her skin and treat her with a long acting steroid injection to allay the skin itchiness triggering her overgrooming +/- antibiotics. Or if her signs are mild, you can consider first trying anti-histamines with her. These can help settle allergic skin reactions and decrease general itchiness and may just be enough to help give her some relief. There are a range on the market that can be used in cats but often we will use Piriton. A low dose (ie. 1-2 mg or 0.25-0.5 of a 4mg tablet can be given twice daily) can just be enough to break that itchiness cycle, and give her skin the chance in needs to settle. We like to keep the dose low in kitties, as they can have drowsiness with this medication (just like people). And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your lass has any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medication without speaking to your vet.
Once the skin based triggers for her overgrooming is addressed, you can then focus on the stress side of her signs. As I noted, any life change can trigger a cat to overgroom. Losing her friend could certainly be a trigger, but these new kittens will be as well. And it is quite possible that she will find them especially stressful since they appeared at this stage, as if they are encroaching on her territory in the wake of the other cat passing. Since we cannot undo that less then ideal introduction, you may want to make sure that they give her space and time to accept them.
Now in regards ***** ***** likely initial issue that set her off, the stress induced side of overgrooming. If we can settle her skin and help keep everything calm at home, we may find that this just settles for us. Otherwise, you will want to take some steps to reduce her tension levels and help her cope with her new life. To do so, we often find that using de-stressing treatments can help her reduce or potentially settle this behavior. Treatment options include Feliway, also known as Comfort Zone in the US pet stores, which is a synthetic cat pheromone that helps to relieve stress. This can be used as a spray or a plug-in diffuser. There is also a diet on the market called Calm by Royal Canin. This contains a number of supplements that have been found to provide stress relief to cats. As well, there are nutritional supplements like Kalmaid (LINK) or Zylkene , that we often use to soothe anxious cats Some people have even found treats like Composure (LINK) or Bach Flower Remedy (LINK) to be helpful for settling kitty tension. And as these are not 'drugs', you can use any of these together to help settle her anxiety and reduce her need to overgroom.
Overall, her signs suggest two different causes for her current state. It is likely that this started as a stress induced overgrooming but now the skin changes are going to cause her to groom as well. Therefore, you need to address the skin situation first to settle the itchy reason for her to overgroom. Once that is out of the way, you can start addressing the stress based overgrooming side of her actions. And in that case, we'd want to try the above steps to see if we can help her cope and reduce her behavior. If you do so and she doesn't settle, then we may need to speak to her vet about medications that can be used to ease her drive to overgroom. This all said, hopefully that won't be necessary for her and the above steps I have outlined will just help you settle her need to ovegroom.
I hope this information is helpful.
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All the best,
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