does my cat over grooming same spots due to allergy or behavior?

by Isaac Quijano
(Cleveland, OH)

Juanita (no spots)

Juanita (no spots)

spots under her neck and legs

spots under her neck and legs

under right leg

under right leg

under neck

under neck

Juanita (no spots)
spots under her neck and legs
under right leg
under neck

Dear Doctor,

We have a two cats that we rescued since kittens about 3 years ago. Their names are Juanita and Soxie. The cat that we have been presented with problems is Juanita. She is a short hair cat that has always shown to have a very nice, playful, very loving and outgoing personality.

Since we had her she never has shown any major health problems besides the occasional little "cold" that was controlled by a simple vet visit. Until about 6 months ago we noticed something that we have been battling to date.

At first we noticed that right underneath the front of her neck there wasn't a lot of hair due to her licking in the same spot and a little scab. The licking got so severe to a point that she would make it all the way to the skin a cause a little bit of bleeding.

Of course we took her to the Veterinarian that we have always gone to. He gave her a shot for allergies and some ointment/liquid in case it was fleas. Neither Juanita nor the other cat shown any possible signs of fleas; therefore, we always knew that was not the problem (we had battled fleas when we first got them so we are aware of what how fleas work and they are both strictly indoor cats).

The symptoms remained and the vet only repeated the same treatment, to no avail. We spoke with a friend that had taken one of her cats to the same vet (she did not talk nicely about them) so we decided to find a new vet.

The new vet gave her steroid shots along with antibiotics and flea treatment (for both cats). Also it was suggested to change her food, which we did. That seemed to last for about a month, then the cycle began...we spend 3 months of the same thing; the issue would go away for 3 weeks and come back on the 4th week.

All of the suggestions were followed only to find our selves in the same unfortunate cycle of taking her there going away and then coming back. It got to a point as of our last visit that the doctor suggested not to give her any more shots of steroids and try one week of medication of "Atopica".

The doctor suggested that if the problem did not improve we would be referred to an animal allergy and dermatologist specialist. The earliest that we are able to see the doctor is at the end of July which leaves us with a very difficult position of watching our cat continually over groom. We are currently trying at home remedies until we see the dermatologist: a facial pheromone diffuser and Dermasol skin care gel.

Dear Isaac,

Thank you for writing. The pictures show lesions that certainly are not consistent with normal grooming behavior of a cat. The causes are generally flea allergy or allergy to other things in the environment, food allergy, or psychogenic. Flea allergy is by far the most common. Psychogenic is by far the least common.

The fact that your kitty responded to the steroid injections and/or flea treatment repeatedly, even though it was just a few weeks at a time, is evidence that the problem is most likely allergic in nature. Food allergy and psychogenic alopecia are very unlikely to respond to steroid injections.

It sounds as if your new veterinarian is doing a great job. It certainly is time to see a dermatologist. I understand your frustration at seeing your cat suffer until the appointment in July. Did you make the appointment yourself or did your veterinarian make it for you? If you made it yourself, perhaps your veterinarian could call for you and see if your kitty could be seen earlier. Also, call the dermatologist and ask to be put on a wait list in case they get cancellations.

Meanwhile, talk to your vet about the use of antihistamines and fatty acid supplements while you are waiting. In combination, they can be helpful for many itchy cats. Also, as much as I hate them, the vet could have your kitty wear an e-collar if necessary to prevent her from hurting herself.

A quick note about fleas. It is very possible for indoor cats to have fleas and develop flea allergy. I have seen it happen many, many times. We have many articles on the website about flea allergy if you want to read more.

Return to The Role of Cat Flea Medicine in Feline Allergies.

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