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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 17916
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have a long haired rescue cat I adopted them about a year

Customer Question

I have a long haired rescue cat I adopted them about a year ago the female is a normal short hair but the boy is long haired but he seems to lick his fur a lot and the fur at times seems to be very thin on his back legs, a friend of mine has a cattery and she went though his fur while he was boarding with her and found no flea dirt I have treated him for fleas and also bought a Feliway plug. Any suggestions would be appreciated
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Harvey is grooming his rear legs excessively leading to a thin coat.
Has he done this the entire time you have had him?
Does he seem to be a nervous fellow?
Is this worsening over time or does it seem to come and go?
Does he get on well with his housemate?
Hair loss on the abdomen and rear legs can be related to allergies (food, fleas, inhaled), stress, arthritis pain or anal gland inflammation. In rare cases it can be related to abdominal pain.
Over grooming most often is related to itchy skin or it can be a self calming behavior. Grooming releases a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a calming neurotransmitter.
Are you currently using any flea medication?
I understand that your friend checked him for them but in kitties that are allergic to the bites 1 bite a month is enough to make them groom excessively. If there isn't a large population he may literally eat the evidence with his excessive grooming. Some flea products are more effective than others and if he is experiencing an occasional bite that can lead to him overgrooming himself. If your other kitty isn't affected than it may be that she isn't allergic. I like Frontline Plus or Advantage II for cats. Many over the counter products aren't effective and some are toxic.
If he has been doing this consistently since he came to you he may have a food allergy. It is worth trying a hypoallergenic diet such as Hills z/d or Royal Canin Duck and Green Peas. If you choose to use a hypoallergenic diet then it must be the only thing that he gets for at least 10 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. No table foods or treats or flavored medication.
If this is stress related then decreasing stress by using Feliway may help so I am glad that you have this. Feliway is a synthetic analog of a facial pheromone which cats use to mark their home territory and is calming for them.
If Feliway isn't solving the problem adding a homeopathic calming drop to his food or water called Bach's Rescue Remedy may help.
Sometimes anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone or fluoxetine prescribed by his veterinarian may be indicated.
If this is arthritis related then using a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement (like Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like Derm Caps) to improve joint lubrication and cartilage health may be very helpful.
if this is related to inhaled or flea allergy related then therapy with Chlorpheniramine at 4mg per cat once to twice daily and an omega-3 fatty acid such as Derm Caps should help him be more comfortable.
So in short you can have him rechecked by his veterinarian to make sure there's no physical reason for his discomfort (full anal glands, arthritis or abdominal pain). Or you can try flea preventatives, an antihistamine (chlorpheniramine) and an omega-3 fatty acid as well as a hypoallergenic diet, or a glucosamine/chondroitin product if you think he may be arthritic and take him in if those don't help.
Let me know if you have any further questions.