In Which I Attempt to Fix the Tiny Cat

So, yes, the tiny cat.  She’s in bad shape.  She’s pulled out all of the hair along both sides of her body and much of it on the top of her spine  (basically, on Thursday and Friday; it’d been thin, but she went to town on herself at the end of the week).  The skin where her hair used to be is a gross mess of red irritation and sloughing white blood cells.  And she itches.  So, the question becomes do I take her back to the vet yet again and have him yet again pronounce it an allergy and we yet again try to figure out what is different in her life in the winter than in the summer and try to eliminate it or rectify it only to fail miserably and have spring roll around and it go away and her hair grow back?  Or do we try to find something we can do to help?

Saturday, I spent all evening rubbing hand cream on her, to try to soothe her skin.  So, yes, it’s come to this.  If I invite you over to my house on a Saturday evening to lube up the pussy and see what happens, you should be aware that you have a fifty-fifty shot of getting stuck slicking up my gross, uncomfortable balding cat.

It was so disgusting, I can’t even tell you.  She looked like a mobile oil slick.  BUT, and I believe this is the important part, her skin was markedly improved on Sunday.  Much less red and she seemed to even want us to put more lotion on her.

And, in slicking her up, I noticed that what hair she does have left on her body is really dry.  So, now I’m wondering if she’s maybe, in the winter, for whatever reason, not producing enough skin oil naturally (maybe the dry food isn’t fatty enough and, since she’s not going out, it’s not getting supplemented with small rodents?) and so it’s causing her to itch, which causes her to over-lick, which causes her fur to come out, which irritates her skin, which itches, causing her to… I think you see where I’m going with this.

So, today we’re trying two things.  One, she’s getting some wet food, cheap, greasy 9 Lives, to see if the oil in that helps her coat, or what’s left of it.  She’s in there eating on it now.  And two, while she was eating, I rubbed some cortazone cream on her that claims to help releave itching and help skin irritation.  So, we’ll see how that goes.

In good news, her appetite is good and this is the most she’s ever cared to be pet, so that’s kind of a treat.

19 thoughts on “In Which I Attempt to Fix the Tiny Cat

  1. I don’t remember where I read it, but someone used a BARF diet for their cat (bones, raw meat, fat, some veggies). Her cat no longer had hairballs after eating that diet, had a cleaner catbox, and had much healthier skin and coat. It’s supposed to be as close to what a cat would eat in the wild as you can get. You can buy it already made, or make it yourself (but I don’t know where you would find a recipe with exact amounts of necessary ingredients).

  2. I would love to take a peek at your search results on this blog after the sentence If I invite you over to my house on a Saturday evening to lube up the pussy and see what happens, you should be aware that you have a fifty-fifty shot of getting stuck slicking up my gross, uncomfortable balding cat.

    Those people are going to be sorely disappointed.

  3. Poor Tiny Cat. It sounds like you might have more experience to draw on with this than I do, but I figure I would share anyway on the off chance it miiight help–

    This past fall, one of my cats started losing a lot of his hair and seeming like he was in a lot of discomfort. He was born blind and with other health problems, so, when we started noticing bald, red patches all over him, we weren’t sure what was causing it but figured it was probably a sign of his generally iffy health. He got to looking so uncomfortable and pitiful one weekend that my brother, who was visiting, said we should take him in to the vet and have him put down. But that week, my mom took him to the vet, they said it was simply an allergy, gave him a cortisone shot, and there was a huge difference in how he seemed to feel almost immediately, and all of his hair grew back soon after. He seems to be doing great now, knock on wood.

    So, while it wouldn’t help for figuring out the root cause of the problem, maybe a cortisone shot would help her feel better? I hope it gets resolved soon… that pulling out all of her hair bit sounds awful.

  4. A friend of mine gave her cat Valerian Root. Just a little in the cat’s food and it helped relax the cat.
    I have no idea if this worked but I thought it was interesting. Oh, and Gold Bond cream. Not the green kind, the yellow kind.
    My Cat Fu is not strong.

  5. Here was our solution to a similar problem.

    Quinn’s skin allergies are still not under control although we now give him allergy shots once a week. However the poor guy is allergic to just about everything. So we have resorted to baby clothes with the arms cut out.

    He still licks the baby clothes but the vet says the cotton fibers are actually easier on his digestive system than the cat hair.

  6. A slightly less oily alternative – my vet recommended baby wipes for my cats’ flaky dry winter skin. I expressed disbelief, but he maintains that it won’t hurt them if they lick it, and if I rub their fur backwards it will work down onto their skin. I have not tried this since the problem seemed to resolve itself, but it’s a thought.

    Also, a cat-owning friend told me that the skin flakiness could be exacerbated (rather than relieved) by excessive fish meal in their diet. I do not know if this is true, but egg is a pretty safe alternative. Cats usually love eggs.

  7. Also anecdotal evidence: I have known two other cats that actually went as far as pulling their own fur out. One had a severe allergy to fleas. The other had pollen allergies of various sorts that sometimes made her lose the hair on her chin, but she only pulled her hair out while my dad (her favorite person) was in the hospital.

  8. To me, it looks like a flea allergy. Not that I’m an expert, but that’s what it looks like. But we keep her frontlined and it happens in the winter. In fact, I think this last couple of really cold weeks exacerbated it, because though she had some thin spots, if you looked closely, we had avoided anything like in previous years until this disaster of a mess.

    So, I don’t know. Maybe she’s allergic to not having fleas.

    Jblank, I’m glad to hear about the cortizone shot. That makes me hopeful that the cortizone cream will be helpful.

  9. One of my cats had this problem and the vet suggested Brewers Yeast tablets — it didn’t work immediately but it did help her skin and it also seemed to help with the fleas (some). Also a friend of mine swears by Science Diet Sensitive Skin cat food but I don’t know about this personally. My cat has IBS so has a limited diet.

  10. I’ve heard of adding a little fish oil to pet food for dogs and cats to deal with dry and irritated skin. I have no idea what kind of fish oil or how much so you’d have to ask the vet on that, but the people I know that do that have had good results.

    I’ve also heard of stuff like this being food allergies, but that was mainly for dogs and to my non-DVM mind doesn’t explain why it would happen in winter but not year round.

  11. Our dog had a similar, but not as severe problem. He got a cortizone shot and it mostly went away. Our vet told us it flared up in winter because of the dry air which also causes people to have dryer skin. It may be some sort of allergy that gets exasperated by the dryer skin in winter.

    It doesn’t make the tiny cat feel better, but at least her health problems birthed a really kickin’ blog name.

  12. Like everybody else, I’m guessing that it’s dry skin caused by dry winter air. The fact that the lotion helped seems to back that guess.

    The only think I’d be careful is to use a lotion that is safe for the cat to ingest, because it WILL ingest it.

  13. Aunt B, this is my recipe which has cured more than one of my cats from allergies/hair falling out/skinny death. It takes a bit of time but it might work for you too:

    1/3 fairly watery polenta (you might know it as corn grits)
    1/3 yoghurt, full fat
    1/3 tuna

    It sounds crazy, but it works magic to make sick cats better.
    You can make it in batches too, so it lasts 3 days or so.
    By the way, my cat had flea allergies too: the problem is they get exacerbated by certain types of food additives. The reason this recipe works is that all the ingredients are so basic.
    I hope the tiny cat gets better soon.

  14. To clarify: the recipe takes a bit of time to *prepare*. It takes less than a week to see a huge improvement in cat condition, if it’s working.

  15. To me, it looks like a flea allergy. Not that I’m an expert, but that’s what it looks like. But we keep her frontlined and it happens in the winter.

    That actually doesn’t matter, as I learned. My vet told me that fleas are becoming immune to Frontline. They recommend switching to Advantage or another product. I also give my cats those Program injections every six months.

    Flea dander, spit, eggs, etc. can hang out in your house for up to one year, and this being wintertime doesn’t matter since it no longer gets cold enough here in winter to kill off fleas. The vet said it needs to be below freezing for two weeks straight to do that.

    If you’ve got the money to spend (and who does, right?) there is an excellent veterinary dermatologist in town named Dr. Phillips on Nolensville Road. That’s who we had to take Quinn to see. He ended up being allergic to fleas, dust, and 30 different kinds of pollen. If you look at a calendar there is no time of year when something isn’t out there aggravating him. The only thing he’s NOT allergic to is mold.

    Go figure.

    Anyway, you might check out Dr. Phillips. Even if you don’t want to fork over beaucoup bucks for an office visit, her website has a lot of really good information:

    http://www.helpmypetsskin.com/

  16. Catnutrition.org has a recipe for a raw-food diet for cats, if you’re interested in trying that. In our cat’s case it was not skin issues but grain intolerance that led us to it. As for fish oil, salmon oil in capsules is fairly easy to find at health-food stores, possibly in the supplements section of the supermarket as well. One pierces them and squirts them on food. Then one scrubs one’s hands very well and scrubs them again in lemon juice, because there’s no way to pierce a capsule and squirt it on cat food without making one’s hands smell incredibly salmony. Most cats like the smell and taste of salmon oil; at least, they like it better than I do.

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