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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22614
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My cat has been eating the fur from its own tail, and is starting

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My cat has been eating the fur from its own tail, and is starting to look quite sore. I am not entitled to pdsa help but cannot afford the vets fees with start at approx 35.00 without treatment. I suspect its a flea or a tick can i treat this by bathing the area with something like savlon and a flea treatment then dress the affected area and keep doing this to keep it clean and infection free? Will the fur grow back?

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


Poor Ozzy!

If he is visible overgrooming his tail to the point that he is damaging the skin, then we do have to consider an underlying irritative issue (ie allergies to flea saliva, food proteins, pollens, etc). Furthermore, if he has been chewing himself raw, there is the risk of secondary infection leading to even more issues and itchiness.


In regards XXXXX XXXXX to address this poorly tail, there are a few things you can try at home to see if you can settle it down. First, as you have hinted, flea allergy reactions are a very common cause for overgrooming and self-mutilation. If you have not already treated him for fleas, then I'd suggest doing so now and using a good quality product (ie Advantage II, Advocate, Activyl). Avoid grocery store brands since the drugs are old and resistance to fleas is very common (and not addressing them effectively right off the bat won't help Ozzy and will be a waste of funds).


After nipping that trigger in the bud, we do need to address the allergy portion of his skin flare-up. Cats are often very sensitive to flea saliva left in the flea bites and this is why they keep itching and chewing even after they have been treated with a flea treatment. To do so, we can give use antihistamines. Anti-histamines 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 anti-histamines 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 your kitty 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 break the itch cycle.


While doing this, since other allergens (like food proteins) could cause these signs, do make sure you haven't introduced any new diets (or food flavors or "new recipes") into his diet in the past 4-6 weeks before onset of his signs. If you have, then considering switching back to his previous diet to make sure this isn't our trigger.


Furthermore, while addressing these angles, we need to also address that skin. Since he won't leave his tail alone, you will need to consider placing a buster collar (you can buy these OTC at the vets or at pet stores). Bandaging is not a good idea because it will lock in moisture and prevent these wounds from drying out and healing (and there'd be increased risk we'd have a festering wound when the bandage was removed). So, it is better to keep these open and use a buster collar to get him to leave it alone. And while it is open to the air, you can salt water (1 tbsp salt to a pint warm water) bathe or use dilute Savlon or Chlorohexidine to cleanse the wounds and prevent infection. Do note that if we see pus, then that will be a sign that antibiotics may be indicated.


Finally, just since you noted that you are not PDSA eligible, I do want to leave a few links regarding alternative organizations that may be able to help. Now since you have not listed where in the UK you are located, I will just mention that if you are London or Grimsby, the Blue Cross (HERE) may be another option for subsidized care.Londoners can also obtain low cost care for kitties via the Celia Hammond Trust (HERE). Otherwise, for anywhere else in the UK, the RSPCA can be very helpful. You may want to contact your local RSPCA branch (LINK ) or they do have some hospitals that they will see animals directly (ie Salford, Birmingham, London) that you'd be able to take Ozzy to. But don't fret if you are not near an RSPCA hospital, because the branches can still help subsidize or even cover the costs if his tail is already in a severe state such that he needs steroids to allay the discomfort and antibiotics to clear infection.

Overall, I would advise trying the above to settle his tail. If we can break the itch cycle, stop his need to chew his tail, and heal the sores, then the hair will grow back. But if you try the above and you are struggling (or it is already in a severe state), then do consider contacting the RSPCA to get him veterinary care.


I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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