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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 28473
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat has taken to licking all the fur off her underbelly

Customer Question

Hi, my cat has taken to licking all the fur off her underbelly and now down the sides of her inner thigh, she usually has such thick fur but she's licking it all off. There's a stray cat in our garden that we feed, could she be doing this because she's stressed at his presence? I don't feel like I can just leave him to fend for himself, when we found him he was close to death, no one would take him so I started feeding him, could there be a reason she is licking her fur off or is it the stress of the other cat? she's spayed and the stray has not been neutered, she usually ignores him or watches him from a distance, she's never fought with him before though
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
You appear to be describing feline psychogenic alopecia in Brillo. Thie skin condition 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 stray!). The condition is uncommon in cats, with purebred cats that have high-strung nervous temperaments being possibly predisposed. Flea hypersensitivity, food allergy, atopy, and other ectoparasites are more common causes of feline alopecia.The alopecia of feline psychogenic 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 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.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply, that is the sort of behaviour she is exhibiting. So you suggest that I do not stop looking after the stray but more try to break her out of the habit of over-grooming that particular area? or putting her on a medication?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Yes, my first inclination is to rehome the stray if at all possible. That should avoid having to medicate or place mechanical barriers on Brillo. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, we're looking into trying to catch him and have him neutered, once neutered I think he would be more accepting of a new homeThank you for your advice, I'll look into finding a new home for the stray again :)
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
That sounds good. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.