4 Year old male Abyssinian with small bald patches on ears

beagle

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Hello,

At least 6 months ago, I began to notice small spots on my cats outer-ears starting to form. Upon closer inspection they appear to be patches of hair loss, though it is quite difficult to tell, since his hair is so short. The patches appear to have increased in number, and possibly size/diameter. I took him to the vet over a month ago now, and the veterinarian said he had no idea what was causing the patches. No tests were done, such as blood tests or skin tests. He did say however that it was not ringworm, and it was unlikely to be a viral or fungal infection. He suggested it could be an autoimmune disorder. He gave my cat a corticosteroid shot and told me to see if there was any improvements in around 1 month to 6 weeks. It's been 6 weeks, and i have not noticed any improvement. The patches have seemed to increase, if anything.

I have been unable to find any other examples of these hair loss patterns on cats ears on the internet, and i am starting to get more worried. It looks like the patches have begun to move down closer to the base of his ears now (though as i said it is very difficult to tell since i had no baseline pictures from when i first noticed them). Before he did not seem bothered at all by the patches, but now i see him shaking his head after you touch his ears, and scratching them frequently enough to make me believe the spots are causing him some discomfort.

Here are some pictures:

http://oi35.tinypic.com/vrgimw.jpg
http://oi37.tinypic.com/2mmh8jk.jpg
http://oi35.tinypic.com/1fvad3.jpg
http://oi37.tinypic.com/dqnbrk.jpg
http://oi34.tinypic.com/t7zf4g.jpg
http://oi35.tinypic.com/1zqynb9.jpg

I apologize if any of these pictures are not of my cat's ears. Tinypic is crap and overwrites your pictures within a few days. I can take more pictures if necessary. These pictures are all around a month old now. His right ear appears to have more bald patches now than it did before.

Edit: His ears dont appear to be inflamed, however they are quite warm to the touch (not sure if that is normal). I am curious if a food allergy could cause this? Keep in mind these patches have developed over a period of months. I fear that there is either something wrong with his organs and this is a red flag, or he will begin to lose hair all over his head, and the lesions might become much worse as they get larger, or that right now his skin is able to repair itself, but over time it will lessen and either scar or continually blister. I also fear the hair loss may be permanent.
 
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ritz

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Sorry your cat isn't feeling well, but welcome to The Cat Site.

If your cat is scratching the ear more, then I think it makes sense that the ear would be warm(er).

"Autoimmune disease" seems such a catch-all; I'd want a more definitive diagnosis.  I'd take him back to the vets for a follow up appointment, and maybe some blood work.

And yes, it could be due to an allergy to protein, additives, grain, etc.  What are you feeding him?
 
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beagle

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I tried to get him a blood test before, but he was howling and resisting, and the veterinarian said he didnt want to keep trying to draw the blood. I really want to get him a blood test though, so i'll see about trying again.

As far as the food it is called "Now" http://www.petcurean.com/for-cats/now-fresh/grain-free-adult

It contains turkey, salmon, and duck. I was curious about his food, because before this he was on a diet brand, though i cant remember exaclty when we switched foods, definitely before i noticed the bald patches.
 
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ritz

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The food dry, and while the first ingredient is de-boned turkey, the next four are all carbohydrates (potato flour, peas, potatoes, pea fibre); it contains 42% carbohydrates by dry matter basis.  "Grain free" does not mean carbohydrate free (cats don't need carbohydrates).  Some cats are allergic to fish and peas.  It contains 444 calories per cup.

Why was she on a diet brand?  Diet brands usually have more carbohydrates and less protein/fat--which is contraindicated with cats.

I would try to get a blood test, and you might consider the boiled chicken and rice diet to see if her skin condition clears up.  This diet can only be used for a week or less, but if the symptoms decrease, you are likely looking at some type of food allergy.

Canned food has more moisture, generally less calories, though the lower brands can have just as many additives.
 

vball91

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Peas are a known allergen for some cats so if you don't think his previous food had it, I would switch to a different food without it since you know the bald spots started occurring after the food switch.

As Ritz said, wet food is better for cats. Dry food has way too many carbs and is not species-appropriate. If you can switch your cat to a novel protein wet food, you should be able to rule out any food allergies.
 
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beagle

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Is there a specific brand i should try for a wet allergy food? Rimley was on diet food before because we also have an overweight uhh... not sure what kind of breed, shes a mix of calico and a grey and black striped cat, named skittles. She eats all the time. I'm not sure if it is a psychological disorder, but she spent months 1 to 6 at the humane society before we picked her up. Oddly enough she wont eat anything except her cat food, wet canned food, and tuna, but she eats too much and it would be hard to give her controlled portions since Rimley shares the same food as her.
 
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vball91

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Well, it would determine on what your cat has had before, but something like Evo 95% Venison or Evo 95% Duck or Hound & Gatos Pork would probably work if your cat has not had any of those before. There are some other brands that would work as well, but I'm drawing a blank on those right now.
 

talonvaki

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OMG! My Abyssinian Jacoby has the EXACT SAME PROBLEM on his ears! He's super healthy otherwise: He's a CFA, TICA and CFF show cat and he's also a certified therapy cat. He's just five now but he's had the same bald spots on his ears - JUST on the ears, no place else - for about a year. A breeder friend of mine isn't sure what causes it. He's fine otherwise so it seems to be cosmetic but I'd love to know how to fix it.

I really wish I could help...but I'm just relieved to know that it isn't just Jake and that other Abys have this same problem!

:

 
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neridaw

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Honestly, this is really weird. My almost 5 year old male Abby has the same 'matching' pair of tiny bald patches just above the base of his ears. They just appeared overnight yesterday. He does have issues with allergies and is on an almost grain free diet. But nothing drastic has changed lately, and he's healthy and active. Its been quite hot though. Does anyone have any follow up suggestions or feedback?

Many thanks!
 
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beagle

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Hello, i just saw your post in my email. I'd just like to report that my Abby is doing fine and shows no signs of illness. He's due for a blood test, but i got one a couple years ago for him and his results were normal. His spots haven't changed in years, we're still not sure what caused them, but as far as we can tell they are cosmetic only. Though his ears do sometimes have a chemical smell, i'm not sure what that is. Anyways i hope this helps, i took this image just now.

 

neridaw

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Thanks! I now suspect that the spots are sun damage actually. And the pair of matching bald bits near the base of the ears (I think) were probably scraped bare as he squeezed through a particularly tight drawer or something. Those have grown back fine, but the spotty sun damage remains...

cheers
 

akirasmom

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Hi!

So glad to find this thread and website! 

My 3-year old Bengal Akira seems to have the same issue.  She has a few "spots" and in other areas they look more like patches that are whitish and appear bald. They came on gradually. She is indoor-only and it started in the winter, so I doubt that it's sunburn in her case. I haven't noticed her scratching at her ears or overgrooming, and her ears look clean inside. She has no known allergies, but we are going to switch her dry food from Royal Canin Sterilized to Purizon, which is completely grain-free, and see if that makes a difference. She is due for a vet check-up and vaccine soon so we will have it looked at then. 

I don't know the breed that was originally crossed with the Asian Leopard Cat to produce Akira's particular lineage, but apparently Abyssinian is a very common choice due to their sociable and friendly nature, which counteracts the ALC's extreme shyness. From what I just read about Abys, they are soo much like Bengals in personality! Playful, intelligent, height-seeking, attention-seeking, FOMO...  
 

akirasmom

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Hi everyone,

So sorry for the late reply! 

In Akira's case, the vet says it is most likely vitiligo, which is benign. It doesn't seem like it's gotten better or worse since it started. We did change her to a no-grain food - first Purizon then Applaws, which she seems to prefer. Not sure if it really makes a difference with the vitiligo, but it does seem to be healthier for cats in general to avoid grains (not to mention the scary ingredients in even high-end brands like Royal Canin). 

Vitiligo seems to be quite rare in cats according to what I've read. Does anyone have any experience with this?
 
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beagle

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I'm not sure if Rimley has Vitiligo, but it's been years now since the patches on his ears have appeared, and it doesn't look like they've changed at all, either in size or number. Rimley has struvite crystals now in his urine (possibly caused by Go dry food), so we've been feeding him a combination of weruva paw lickin chicken (probably one of the best no carbs canned foods), and pride lamb/chicken "stew" (which contains a small amount of vegetables, but it's all we could get him to stick with). He's also eating royal canin urinary SO dry food, and we got some CatIt flower pot water bowls, which are absolutely incredible. The incredible volume of urine he produces now and the frequency is great for keeping the struvite crystals in check.

I think shifting his diet to primarily high quality canned food (we would get rid of dry food completely if we could) and getting the fountain water bowls was definitely one of the best things we've done for his quality of life so far. He is so much more active now, and he just looks healthier overall.

I think you should just keep in mind, something we learned when switching him to high quality cat food, was that no grain doesn't necessarily mean no/low carb. Many purportedly "good" brands who label their food as no-grain actually still have massive amounts of carbohydrates in their food. And they do this on purpose, similar to labeling foods as "'organic," or "natural," it's just a marketing gimmick for the most part. It's very difficult to find low carb dry foods because they need starches to make the kibble, but getting kibble with the lowest carbohydrate amount would be the healthiest kind of dry food you can get.

The absolute best thing someone can do by far is switch their cat from dry to "biologically appropriate" canned food. Even a low quality canned food will likely be much better than a very high quality dry food because it contains a huge amount of water (which cats won't make up by drinking from a bowl) and will be naturally lower in carbohydrates.

Check out this list, it shows the carbohydrate amount of many cat foods: http://catinfo.org/docs/FoodChartPublic9-22-12.pdf
 
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