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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 57925
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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My cat is grooming her fur bald on her stomach, groin and

Customer Question

Hi . My cat is grooming her fur bald on her stomach , groin and legs
JA: Hi there. I'll do all I can to help. When did you first notice the cat was losing her fur?
Customer: 2 weeks ago ,it started to grow back but now getting worse , no visible irritation , have wormed and flea treated her to see if was that . She’s an indoor cat
JA: Is her skin bumpy or itchy as well?
Customer: Not that I can see
JA: What's the cat's name?
Customer: Rosie
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: she’s eating and drinking fine , is active . I’ve flea treated whole house in case was something irritating her , I have 2 other cats but they are not having same problem
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 17 days ago.

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 17 days ago.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Rosie. We used to diagnose these cats with psychogenic alopecia - a neurotic over-grooming - but have come to realize that most of these cats truly are allergic cats. Feline psychogenic alopecia is overdiagnosed but does exist. Excessive and out-of-context grooming is thought to be an obsessive-compulsive behavior that's triggered by environmental stresses and anxiety. The condition is uncommon in cats, with purebred cats that have high-strung nervous temperaments being possibly predisposed.

This type of alopecia may occur anywhere on the body where the cat can lick but it most commonly involves the medial forelegs, inner thighs, perineum, and ventral abdomen. Hair loss is often bilaterally symmetrical but remaining hairs don't epilate easily. The top differentials are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, dermatophytosis (fungal infection), other ectoparasites (mange) and atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.).

The underlying cause of the psychological stress (e.g., separation from owner, moved to a new house, animal companion died, new pet in the household, formerly outdoor cat denied access to outdoors) must be identified and appropriate environmental modifications made, if possible. A good flea control program should be instituted to prevent fleas from aggravating the symptoms. Use of a mechanical barrier (e.g. Elizabethan collar, T-shirt) for 1-2 months to prevent grooming may help break the habit. Behavior-modifying drugs may help stop abnormal grooming behavior. In some cases, treatment may be discontinued after 30-60 days of therapy; in others, lifelong therapy is required for control. Drugs that may be effective include the following: amitriptyline, clomipramine, buspirone, phenobarbital, diazepam, and naloxone.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thank you for your reply . I have noticed just now she is taking longer than usual to urinate and is scooting ?
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I’m not sure if this is associated with the over grooming ?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 17 days ago.

Possibly. Scooting indicates anusitis which is one clinical sign of a more general allergic dermatitis such as atopy (environmental allergens) and food intolerance. Taking longer to urinate is unclear to me.

Atopy is usually initially addressed with a steroid such as prednisolone. Food intolerance is tested for by hypoallergenic diet trials. Her vet carries the appropriate presumptively hypoallergenic diets.

Please continue in this conversation if you wish.