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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18150
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat is just 19 years of age. She is frail, very thin but

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My cat is just 19 years of age. She is frail, very thin but still playful. Checked by vet few months ago.......... no signs of any nasty illness. She eats well, has remained on diet food diet food following cistitis ( spelling?) few years ago. PROBLEM.......... has been shedding small clumps of fur. These clumps stick out of the fur for a day or so before being shed. What is the matter with her? what should I do? Thank you Ella

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Chloe's hair clumping and abnormal shedding.

At her age she likely has some arthritis and stiffness that may be making it difficult for her to groom herself and remove her undercoat the way that she should. If she also has dental disease, with sore gums and broken teeth with tartar, or any troubles with oral ulcers or her tongue, this can also interfere with grooming.
As her undercoat sheds (this time of year as daylight hours increase it will be shedding a lot) a normal cat would gently remove her shedding undercoat with normal grooming as it naturally comes out. If that doesn't happen, for whatever reason, these softer, easier to matt hairs, stick together and a matt forms. Eventually the matts may become heavy enough or fall out with some of her shedding guard hairs but if left alone she could get quite matted.

I know she has seen her veterinarian recently but I would recommend a recheck to look in her mouth and under her tongue for any masses, ulcers or problem teeth. If she hasn't had recent blood tests those would be indicated too. Unfortunately at her age problems can come on very quickly.

In the meantime a soft brush, used very gently to help remove the undercoat may help.
I would also supplement omega-3 fatty acids to improve her coat and skin condition and as a natural anti-inflammatory to soothe her joints. I like 3V caps or Derm Caps as far as brand name products. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give her 10mg to 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example a 6 pound cat could take 60mg to 120mg of EPA per day. These should help her but they may take several weeks to help.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I find this a bit odd as I have brushed her fur nearly every day of her 19 years! she comes and asks me to do it!

Is there an 'illness' that would cause this kind of shedding? she has had all known blood tests at Christmas 2013.


Hyperthyroidism, or a tumor of the thyroid gland that overproduces thyroid hormones can lead to a higher then normal coat turnover as it raises the metabolic rate. That could lead to matting as she simply may not be able to keep up.
Other then that I would be looking for reasons why she isn't grooming the way she normally would. Cats are much more aggressive getting to the base of the hair and spreading around oils from their skin when they groom themselves then we ever could be with our brushing. So usually if they aren't grooming as aggressively as they normally would that is a big part of matts forming.
Though she had blood tests in December it is 3+ months out from that, which in a cat's life is a long time. Make sure that her thyroid level is looked at closely and they examine under her tongue for any abnormalities.
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