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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17939
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my cat used to look really healthy and had a good appetite,

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my cat used to look really healthy and had a good appetite, he now looks scabby and very thin. his fur has got thin, he has an area near his neck where he seems to have lost some fur, and has scabs near his tail, i have checked for fleas and cannot see any.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about Sooty's small scabs and hair loss along his neck and tail.
The little scabs that you are feeling are his skin's reaction to an allergy or irritant and are called miliary dermatitis.
The most common reason for these symptoms is flea allergy dermatitis. I understand that you looked for fleas but if he is doing lots of scratching, or grooming he can be eating or destroying any evidence of fleas, especially if there aren't many fleas.
Flea allergy dermatitis is horrible. In allergic cats it only takes one bite a month for them to itch like crazy. If you don't see any fleas you might not have a huge population. If you have other pets who aren't itchy they may not be allergic. Even if he doesn't go outdoors it is easy for a few fleas to make their way indoors.
Ideally in allergic animals effective flea control must be used every 3 weeks. Many over the counter products have a problem with fleas being resistant and some can be down right dangerous. I never
recommend any products that Hartz or Sargent's make. I recommend Advantage II or Frontline Plus every 3 weeks for at least 4 months if all pets are indoor only or consistently if any pets go outside as they will be a continual source. All pets in the house must be treated as if you don't the nonallergic ones serve as a flea reservoir for the allergic one and you'll never solve your problem.
Inhaled allergies (to pollens, dust mites or mold spores) are another possibility.
To control allergic symptoms (flea allergies or inhaled allergies) you can try:
1) Benadryl (diphenhydramine only, the combination products with decongestants and acetaminophen are toxic to cats) at 0.5mg to 1mg per kilogram every 8 hours. That's a half of 25mg tablet every 8 hours for a cat that is 4 to 7 kilograms.
2) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg once or twice daily per cat.
Combined with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids antihistamines work to relieve his itchiness. I like 3V caps or Derm Caps. I recommend an omega 3 fatty acid 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 him 20mg to 40mg of EPA per kilogram of body weight per day. For example an 4 kilogram cat could take 80mg to 160mg of EPA per day. Together antihistamines and omega-3 fatty acids work synergistically. These should help reduce the itch. Be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity which should resolve with continued use.
Food allergy is another reason for excess grooming and itchiness. You might wish to try a hypoallergenic food for 8 weeks or so. My suggestions are Hills Z/D or Royal Canin Duck and Green peas. He will need to eat only that food, no other treats or foods during his food trial. You should see an improvement in 8 weeks but full effects may not be seen for 12 to 16 weeks. There really aren't any true, effective hypoallergenic diets available at pet stores.
You can also use cortisone cream or spray on especially itchy areas as long as they aren't raw.
If there are other cats in the home that he doesn't get along with or outdoors that upset him perhaps some of this is stress related. If so a product called feliway, which is a synthetic version of a calming feline pheromone, may help. You can purchase this from pet stores or online.
For now I would start with continued flea control, an antihistamine and omega 3 fatty acids. If he's not significantly better in 2 to 3 weeks then it's time for a veterinary examination to look further for problems and/or a hypoallergenic food trial.
Skin mites like cheyletiella or sarcoptes should be looked for.
Please let me know if you have further questions by replying to this post.
I received a message that you responded but I don't see anything written from you. If you have any further questions please let me know and I will be happy to address them, Dr. Kara.
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