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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 28533
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have a cat, around 6 years old who has come out with

Customer Question

Hi, I have a cat, around 6 years old who has come out with bald patches along her stomach in a line down from her chest, she seems to be cleaning the area excessively which leads me to believe she may be inadvertently worsening the hair loss in an attempt to clean the area? I intend to treat her for fleas and take her to the bet if the problem continues
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Can you upload a photo of the affected skin to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (if that icon is visible) or you can use an external app such as imgur.com or dropbox.com. I can be more accurate for you if I can see what you're seeing. Licking of the stomach was always thought to represent psychogenic alopecia - a neurotic over-grooming - but we've come to realize that most of these cats truly are allergic cats. Feline psychogenic alopecia is overdiagnosed but does exist. Excessive and out-of-context grooming is thought to be an obsessive-compulsive behavior that's triggered by environmental stresses and anxiety. The condition is uncommon in cats, with purebred cats that have high-strung nervous temperaments being possibly predisposed. This type of alopecia may occur anywhere on the body where the cat can lick but it most commonly involves the medial forelegs, inner thighs, perineum, and ventral abdomen. Hair loss is often bilaterally symmetrical but remaining hairs don't epilate easily. The top differentials are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, dermatophytosis (fungal infection), other ectoparasites (mange) and atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.).The underlying cause of the psychological stress (e.g., separation from owner, moved to a new house, animal companion died, new pet in household, formerly outdoor cat denied access to outdoors) must be identified and appropriate environmental modifications made, if possible. A good flea control program should be instituted to prevent fleas from aggravating the symptoms. Use of a mechanical barrier (e.g. Elizabethan collar, T-shirt) for 1-2 months to prevent grooming may help break the habit. Behavior-modifying drugs may help stop the abnormal grooming behavior. In some cases, treatment may be discontinued after 30-60 days of therapy; in others, lifelong therapy is required for control. Drugs that may be effective include the following: amitriptyline, clomipramine, buspirone, phenobarbital, diazepam, and naloxone.Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.