My cat's belly fur never grew back after 2009 spay

Sleepy Nami - bald belly

Sleepy Nami - bald belly

Hi Doctor Neely,

I have an interesting question regarding a peculiar issue with my DSH Dilute Calico, Nami. She was originally spayed in December 2009 and her fur never grew back on her belly. I asked my veterinarian about it but he said to give it a few months.

After a few months (March 2010) my attention was diverted to the fact that, despite Nami being recently spayed, she started to show symptoms of a cat in heat. In April 2010, she went back to the veterinarian and he diagnosed the symptoms of a cat in heat. Nami had to have a second surgery to remove ovarian tissue that was left behind. At the time of the second surgery, I did mention the bald spot the doctor saw was from the Dec 2009 surgery, he noted that it was unusual but so was the fact that Nami was in heat, which was more pressing at the time.

Nevertheless, the second surgery was successful and he said to monitor the hair growth. Well, now it is March 2011 and her hair has never grown back. The shaver markings are still clearly visible. It wouldn't be much of an issue except that she seems to favor that area when cleaning and I hate that she has to constantly clean that area because it is missing fur. This might sound silly but it seems like she's annoyed with having to do it all the time.

My veterinarian recently passed away so before I see a new vet, I'd like to get some information about this. So I guess my question(s) is/are: Why hasn't Nami's fur come back? Is there anything I can do to help her? Is she really "annoyed" by it? She has no other allergies or health issues. I can't seem to find anyone who has experienced a similar problem with their cat.

Thank you, Doctor!

~Amy and Nami Ohtani

Dear Amy,

I am wondering whether or not the hair on your cat's belly really never grew back. Has the border of Nami's bald belly stayed exactly the same as the surgical shave border? It does appear from your picture that the area is the right size and shape, but only you could know whether the borders of the shaved area have stayed exactly the same.

Because of your description of Nami's grooming habits, I would think that her hair may have grown back, or at least started to, but her grooming habits are keeping it away. Over the years, I have seen thousands of cats with bald bellies from excessive grooming habits. The belly area is a common area for cats to groom excessively, often as a result of a feline allergy. It is also possible that she is grooming excessively out of an obsessive/compulsive behavior. She may have begun grooming herself excessively in that area shortly after her initial procedure and has continued to the extent that her hair has never had the chance to grow back.

If, however, the hair on your cat's belly truly never did grow back, it seems unlikely that it ever will. As to why it never grew back, if not as a result of her grooming habits, I really couldn't say. But it seems unlikely that Nami is really annoyed by not having fur on her belly. She may seem annoyed or be bothered by whatever underlying issue, whether a physical allergy or an emotional behavior, is causing her compulsion to groom the area.

In terms of what you could do to help, I would advise you to discuss possible allergies, even though you say she doesn't have any, with your new veterinarian. And, if allergies are ruled out, you can discuss psychological and emotional causes for excessive grooming with the new vet. Stress-reduction techniques can improve excessive grooming problems, and your veterinarian can help you determine the best way to address Nami's particular behaviors.

To read more about cats that lick too much, please read this great article.

All the best to you and Nami,
Dr. Neely

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