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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 22457
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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My neutered male cat has eczema at the base of his tail and

Customer Question

My neutered male cat has eczema at the base of his tail and on his lower back. He seems well otherwise and not very irritated by it but he feels unpleasant to stroke. He is on long term treatment for a chronic urinary tract disorder with Cystaid. How can it be safely treated? Is it dietary in origin?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.


Is the tail base scabby or gritty feeling?

Or are you seeing scaly skin or crusts?

Do the hairs feel rough like straw when you stroke it backwards?


When was Dude last treated for fleas? What did you use?


Have you changed his diet in the past 4-6 weeks?



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Tail base is scabby.


Fur feels normal.

Dude has definitely not got fleas - I check his bedding and fur regularly. I cannot remember the name of the spray but he is regularly treated (can't remember the name of the spray) but I recognize fleas and their droppings.

Dude is on a special diet recommended by the vet for urinary tract disorders - he has been on this for months plus the drug Cystaid..

Does he need a vitamin supplement e.g. Vitamin D?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dude's tail base is scabby.

There are crusts.

His fur feels normal.

Dude has not been treated for fleas recently. We used a spray obtained from our vet. Neither of my cats is showing any sign of fleas and their are no flea droppings (which I recognise) in their bedding.

Dude is on a special diet for a cat with urinary tract disorder (s/o).

He has been on this diet for several years.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you Carole,

Now cats do not get eczema as people do and Vitamin D is not indicated. Instead, when we see crusts and scabs local to the tail base, this does suggest a few potential issues. This includes fungal infection (like ringworm), mites (if this is more dander then crust), bacterial infections (staph pyoderma), and allergic disease (which includes flea saliva, food protein allergies, pollen and environmental allergies). Just to note in regards to your question on dietary allergens, if his diet has not been changed within the few months before these signs started, then this is unlikely to be our cause.

Now if you are seeing thick dander or suspect ringworm, then these need to be checked by his vet (especially as some can spread to people). If they are diagnosed, then he will either need a course of anti-fungal treatment for ringworm his vet can dispense a spot on treatment like Advocate that can clear the mites.

Otherwise, we have to consider our other concerns. Now I appreciate you have not seen fleas on Dude. The reason I asked is because flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergen of the cat and is most often seen to effect the tail base. Therefore, when we have a pattern of skin changes like this, it is prudent to update flea treatment (since it's an economical way to rule this out). Especially as the cat only needs to be bitten once by a flea and have its saliva injected into his skin to start the allergic reaction that can lead to milliary dermatitis of the tail based. And this year has been horrific for fleas in the UK. Therefore, even if you are not seeing a hint of fleas, it is still worth covering your bases and if you use a product like Advocate you can rule out mites at the same time.

Further to addressing the allergen, you can try to address the potentially allergy. To do so, you can consider treating Dude with an antihistamine. To do so, you can use a low dose of OTC Piriton (chlorphenamine). For a cat, he can have 1-2 mg (a quarter or half tablet of the normal human 4mg tablet). This will help reduce the allergic reaction, though do be aware that it can make him a wee bit drowsy (just as it does people). This can help with all our allergen agents and can reduce the self-trauma that will have lead to the scabbing. Of course, you will want to double check with his vet if he is on any other medication or has any other pre-existing issues you have not mentioned. And if he is very severely irritated with this area of skin, I would just note that you alternatively want his vet to put him on a short course of steroids to halt any allergy reaction.

While covering these bases, you can also topically manage the skin. You can bathe the area with a mild cat safe anti-septic (ie dilute chlorohexidine or salt water) a few times daily to decrease bacterial load and help lessen any bacterial influence on his skin changes. If you find that he is scratching the area, then clip his nails short. Or if you find him licking/overgrooming, he may need to wear a buster collar until this settles down.

Finally, instead of Vitamin D, if you wish to try to support his skin cell health, you should consider some essential fatty acid (EFA) supplementation. EFA’s are the fats that are part of skin cells composition and play a role in their health and coat health. A general recommendation for dietary supplementation with essential fatty acids would be to feed 1.5-2.5 ml fish oil per 4kg of body weigh. Alternatively, you can offer a small volume of fresh salmon weekly. If Dude doesn't like fish, then you can speak to your vet about alternative EFA therapies. Examples of oral EFA supplements include Viacutin or Yumega. As well, there is a spot on preparation that gets around a kitty even having to ingest these EFAs, called Allerderm.

Overall, there are a range of issues that we have to consider with his tail base region in this stage. Flea allergy dermatitis due to a rogue flea inducing an allergic reaction would be a major concern due to how commonly it causes these signs, but we do have those other concerns. Therefore as long as you do no feel this is ringworm, you can try the above to rule out allergies, bacteria, fleas, and mite. Furthermore, do consider treating with the EFAs to help support his skin health and help it heal back to normal.

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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