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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22468
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Our cat has previously had problems shedding his fur when we

Customer Question

Our cat has previously had problems shedding his fur when we moved house 3 years ago. Vet said it was due to stress. He did regrow his fur. 6 months ago we took on an older cat who was homeless. Our cat started shedding fur again and now has lost so much He has little fur all over, he is also scratching(no fleas as he is regularly treated) and has dry skin. Phil appetite is good. He has also been spraying indoors.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

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

Based on Phil's signs (spraying and overgrooming), feline stress/anxiety is the top suspect in his case (even without knowing he has had a stress overgrooming issue in the past). Both are issues we see arise related to stress in cats. And if you did take in another cat (which is a very common stressor since cats are instinctively territorial), then would be a very likely trigger for his signs.

Therefore, as we are seeing two very commonly stress derived behaviors, our approach would be to try and allay that stress. Since the suspect trigger (the other cat) is not likely to be something you can remove from Phil's life, we would want to focus on using de-stressing tools to help provide a general peaceful environment for him. Often we will use Feliway, which is a synthetic cat pheromone that helps to relieve stress. This can be used as a spray or a plug-in diffuser in the rooms he spends the most time. There is also a diet on the market called Calm by Royal Canin. This contains a number of supplements that have been found to provide stress relief to cats. As well, there are nutritional supplements like Kalmaid (LINK) or Zylkene , that we often use to soothe anxious cats. All are available OTC at the vets, most pet stores, and some are available online. And as these are not drugs per say, they can be used together as needed. These would be ideal to try to reduce the tension that is driving these inappropriate behaviors.

Finally, just since you noted that you are seeing him scratching despite being flea treated, I would just mention that we can see allergic dermatitis in the wake of even one flea bite or other allergens (ie new foods, pollens, dust mites, etc). To try and rule this out for Phil, I would just note that you can help reduce the potential itchiness and irritation, by treating him with an antihistamine. 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 do like to keep the dose low in kitties (and if they are still itchy with this, then we will use non-drowsy treatments like steroids). And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your kitties have any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medication without speaking to your vet.

Overall, to see both behaviors at once put stress high on our list of concerns for Phil. Therefore, we'd want to make sure he has some personal space from the other cat and would want to use the above de-stressing tools. If he is itchy, you do want to keep up on monthly flea treatment but consider an antihistamine trial as well. If you do so but he isn't settling, then we'd want to discuss medical management options (ie steroids for itching, anti-anxiety drugs for the stress side of his behaviors) with his vet for him.

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! : )
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much have got food and piriton and have ordered feliway plugins. Everything you have said makes complete sense. Hopefully Phil will be feeling better soon.
Marina Chalke
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
You are very welcome Marina,

I am glad that I could give you a "plan of attack" for settling Phil's signs. Hopefully, we can just reduce his tension and address any itchiness that may be present, we can get him to settle and stop feeling the need to spray and overgroom here.

Take care & all the best to you both in the new year,
Dr. B.