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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32871
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Why is my cat going bald on his tummy. It started two years

Customer Question

Why is my cat going bald on his tummy. It started two years ago and is getting worse.
He has all f his injection and flea injection.
He is an indoor cat with a brother who is deaf. They both get on together so what is the problem?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
In the great majority of cases, cats such as Charlie are over-grooming the tummy. This can be confirmed by performing a trichogram - a microscopic exam of hairs from his tummy which would reveal blunting (trauma to) the normally pointed hair ends.

Over-grooming is often seen secondary to allergic skin disease such as a flea-saliva allergy (unlikely with the history of his receiving flea treatment), atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.), and a food intolerance (least likely).

While greatly overdosed, psychogenic alopecia/over-grooming should be a serious consideration in balding tummy cats. This is diagnosed based on the history of a stressful event or a change in environment and failure to respond to aggressive flea control, lime sulfur dips (in case mites are a consideration - not likely in Charlie), failure to respond to a presumptive hypoallergenic diet, and steroid (prednisolone) therapy which should be quite effective in cases of flea saliva allergy or atopy - not so, with a food intolerance.

Use of a mechanical barrier (a T-shirt, e.g.) and 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 amitripyline, clomipramine, buspirone, phenobarbitral, diazepam, and naloxone - all of which must be prescribed by Charlie's vet.

The prognosis for hair regrowth is variable, depending on whether the underlying cause can be identified and corrected. Psychogenic alopecia is essentially a cosmetic disease; observation without treatment may be reasonable because long-term use of behavioral-modifying drugs may result in serious adverse effects.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.