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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16208
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Coat disorder

Customer Question

coat disorder
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 11 months ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian & I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Can you tell me more about Rex's coat:
1. How long has he had this issue?
2. Is he itchy?
3. Does he have areas of hair loss? Where?
4. Does he have any skin changes (ie ulcers, scabs, sores, redness, pimples, pustules, etc)?
5.Any diet change in the 4-6 weeks before this started?
6.Any testing or treatments been tried so far?
7. Can you take a photo of this? If you can do so, this will let me see what you are seeing. To post them online, you can use the paperclip icon on the tool bar above your text box. Or if you can't see that on your computer/phone, then you can post them on any other site (ie Flickr, Photobucket, imgur, etc) and paste the web link here for me to check.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
1 6months
2 seems to be
3 back body
4 no
5 no
6 flea collar
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
exma
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you,
Now as you will surely appreciate, itchy skin can be caused by a number of things. The most common reasons in the cat is allergy based skin irritations. Allergies can be to literally anything in their kitty world. This includes diet, parasites (like fleas), pollens, and anything that they essentially come into contact with.
Now I appreciate that you have used a flea collar but I must say that the areas where you are seeing the signs is quite suspicious of flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). And if he has only had a flea collar for protection (and sadly they just aren't very good these days), I would be suspicious that this is the original trigger for his signs.
As I am sure you can appreciate, 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 is itchy and sore, so our cats may chew, scratch and some will even start pulling out tufts of hair. They scratch which can irritate the skin even more, and its a vicious cycle (they itch b/c its itchy, but its itchier because they itched, if you know what I mean). As well, as they are causing damage to the skin from scratching, they will open the door for bacterial infection (which makes it even itchier). The fact that this irritation has been grumbling along is quite suspicious of a chronic allergy that is just not settling because he keeps itching it. The flea that may have bitten him is probably long since dead and therefore no where to be seen today. Cats caught in this kind of allergic response often respond well to religious flea treatment but sometimes need additional short term medications to help break the itchiness cycle.
So, ideally it would be worth considering trying a topical (back of the neck) spot on treatment for Rex. I would advise using a good quality product like Advocate, Activyl, Advantage II or Revolution (all available OTC at the vets or pet shop if you have a recent weight for him). All of these are spot-on preparations and have the advantage of protecting a cat everywhere since they are absorbed into the skin and spread all over the body within the skin cells (instead of just being at the neck).
Otherwise, to try to break this itch/scratch cycle he is caught in, we can also try him with an antihistamine. Antihistamines 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 antihistamines will break that itchiness cycle and give his skin the chance it needs to settle, 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 him. And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if Rex has any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medication without speaking to your vet. That all said, if you treat him with this and he doesn't settle or his irritation is very severe, then he may require a short course of a steroids to allay the allergic skin response and associated itchiness.
Overall, it sounds like despite wearing a collar, Rex is having a reaction to flea saliva. Therefore, it is worth considering an alternative flea product for the future but also using a short course of antihistamines to break the itchiness cycle. And if you don’t find his skin settling, then it would be worth seeing your vet to make sure there is nothing more lurking and to have them start him on a strong long lasting injectable anti-inflammatories to halt the itching and help let his coat improve.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 11 months ago.
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