Cat aggresively licking her skin after blood sampling

Antonio65

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My cat Giada reacts very bad every time the vets need to take some blood from her. The vets shave the area where they need to take the blood from, but then she insistently lick her shaved skin and her skin gets really sore.
This time the thing went beyond imagination, and her hind leg has a really bad look. I just took a photo and sent it to the vet, I'm waiting for a reply.
I'd like to understand why she feels the urge to lick her skin till it gets sore.

Here are three examples of how she reduced her skin to.

r2022_05_06 Giada zampa ant sx.jpg

Her front left paw in May 2022

r2022_12_04 Giada collo.jpg

Her neck after a blood sampling from the jugular, December 2022.

r2024_02_26 Giada zampa post sx.jpg

This is today, and she had her last blood sampling on Feb 20th.
 

FeebysOwner

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I think shaving the skin make that area itchy and irritated to begin with, and then sometimes being poked with a needle can cause a bit of soreness/irritation as well. Both seem to provoke a licking reaction, to try to make the area feel better, from what I have seen. And if it bothers a cat enough, they make matters worse in the goal to make the area feel more normal and less bothersome.

It is too bad the vet feels the need to shave her just for drawing blood, as I think that would help immensely if they didn't. At this point, you might ask the vet to recommend something you can use after each upcoming needle poke and start using it immediately afterward.
 

silent meowlook

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Most likely too much pressure is placed on the clipper blades and it causes clipper burn, which is painful. They also most likely use alcohol on top of that and that burns.
Are they using the front leg? That is not a “ cat friendly practice” way of doing things. The neck isn’t either. The back leg should be used. Are you present when they draw the blood? You should be.

Have a look around this site for more information.
 
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Antonio65

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So, my clinic told me they didn't receive my email yesterday, though I sent it to them twice. They also told me they would have investigated into it and let me know shortly. Well, it didn't happen, so I assumed they didn't care about me and my cat much.
So, I left work earlier, went home, took my Giada and went to another clinic, where they know me well already.
They were very helpful, Giada was promptly taken care of. The vet looked at her hind leg and said it was a severe pyoderma. He cleansed the area with a chlorhexidine foam and prescribed an antibiotic (Clavaseptin tablets) for 5 days. I have to continue to cleanse the area with the same foam, apply a soothing cream and put the e-collar on Giada until she is fully recovered.
The clinic sold me the antibiotic, I have the foam at home, and I put the collar on.
They were so thoughtful of the situation and so caring of me being there as a customer that I paid a very low vet bill, just €30 plus €20 for the antibiotic.

I think shaving the skin make that area itchy and irritated to begin with, and then sometimes being poked with a needle can cause a bit of soreness/irritation as well.
This is what the vet said. The stinging feeling of the needle might have persisted longer on Giada, she might be very sensitive, and this pushed her to keep licking at home too, until her skin got sore and this worsened the things.

It is too bad the vet feels the need to shave her just for drawing blood, as I think that would help immensely if they didn't. At this point, you might ask the vet to recommend something you can use after each upcoming needle poke and start using it immediately afterward.
I have met very few vets that don't shave the spot before drawing blood. Those who don't shave just soak the area with alcohol so to make the fur adhere to the skin and make the vein visible.
I had asked the vet to draw blood from Giada's jugular, but he said he was more comfortable with the hind leg.

Most likely too much pressure is placed on the clipper blades and it causes clipper burn, which is painful. They also most likely use alcohol on top of that and that burns.
Yesterday the vet did mention the alcohol as one of the elements who could have irritated the skin, but didn't say anything about the clipper blades. I was there when the previous vet shaved Giada's leg, and I'm totally sure he didn't apply too much pressure, he was very delicate and careful.

Are they using the front leg? That is not a “ cat friendly practice” way of doing things. The neck isn’t either. The back leg should be used. Are you present when they draw the blood? You should be.
Usually, the vets that I know use the front leg, but I'd rather use the jugular because it's faster to draw blood from the neck, and this minimize the risk of blood clotting in the syringe/vials. For some particular tests, drawing blood from the neck is highly recommended.
On that same day, the same vet drew blood from Freya, my other cat, and he used the jugular because Freya has very thin veins, and it's hard to take blood from her legs, both front and back ones.
For some weird reason, he didn't use the same procedure with Giada, and he went for the hind leg.

Bar the operating room, I am always present during all visits for my cats. I have never let any vets visit any of my cats without me being present, even for X-rays. The only time a vet said I had to wait outside as per clinic policies, I told him I was leaving there and then with my cats, he gave up and allowed me to be there.
So yes, I was there, because I strongly believe that the owner's presence during a vist help the pet stay calm and confident.

Have a look around this site for more information.
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Yes, there is a clinic nearby that is in this programme, and it's rated GOLD. I also considered switching clinics and go there rather than where I go. What keeps me from doing this is that I know all the vets at my clinic very well, they know my cats very well and they also know what I do for all cats, both mine and ferals, and I wouldn't like to start it over again elsewhere.
 

silent meowlook

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So, my clinic told me they didn't receive my email yesterday, though I sent it to them twice. They also told me they would have investigated into it and let me know shortly. Well, it didn't happen, so I assumed they didn't care about me and my cat much.
So, I left work earlier, went home, took my Giada and went to another clinic, where they know me well already.
They were very helpful, Giada was promptly taken care of. The vet looked at her hind leg and said it was a severe pyoderma. He cleansed the area with a chlorhexidine foam and prescribed an antibiotic (Clavaseptin tablets) for 5 days. I have to continue to cleanse the area with the same foam, apply a soothing cream and put the e-collar on Giada until she is fully recovered.
The clinic sold me the antibiotic, I have the foam at home, and I put the collar on.
They were so thoughtful of the situation and so caring of me being there as a customer that I paid a very low vet bill, just €30 plus €20 for the antibiotic.



This is what the vet said. The stinging feeling of the needle might have persisted longer on Giada, she might be very sensitive, and this pushed her to keep licking at home too, until her skin got sore and this worsened the things.



I have met very few vets that don't shave the spot before drawing blood. Those who don't shave just soak the area with alcohol so to make the fur adhere to the skin and make the vein visible.
I had asked the vet to draw blood from Giada's jugular, but he said he was more comfortable with the hind leg.



Yesterday the vet did mention the alcohol as one of the elements who could have irritated the skin, but didn't say anything about the clipper blades. I was there when the previous vet shaved Giada's leg, and I'm totally sure he didn't apply too much pressure, he was very delicate and careful.



Usually, the vets that I know use the front leg, but I'd rather use the jugular because it's faster to draw blood from the neck, and this minimize the risk of blood clotting in the syringe/vials. For some particular tests, drawing blood from the neck is highly recommended.
On that same day, the same vet drew blood from Freya, my other cat, and he used the jugular because Freya has very thin veins, and it's hard to take blood from her legs, both front and back ones.
For some weird reason, he didn't use the same procedure with Giada, and he went for the hind leg.

Bar the operating room, I am always present during all visits for my cats. I have never let any vets visit any of my cats without me being present, even for X-rays. The only time a vet said I had to wait outside as per clinic policies, I told him I was leaving there and then with my cats, he gave up and allowed me to be there.
So yes, I was there, because I strongly believe that the owner's presence during a vist help the pet stay calm and confident.



Yes, there is a clinic nearby that is in this programme, and it's rated GOLD. I also considered switching clinics and go there rather than where I go. What keeps me from doing this is that I know all the vets at my clinic very well, they know my cats very well and they also know what I do for all cats, both mine and ferals, and I wouldn't like to start it over again elsewhere.
I am glad you stay with them.
Another thing that can cause this is if they don’t clean the blades between each patient. Or, if they clean with the clipper spray and don’t wipe it off afterwards. Also, a dull blade or several swipes with the clippers on the same area.

I worked for a Gold feline hospital for 6 years. Very different way of doing things. There they use the back leg but will rub lidocaine gel on the leg, wait, then wipe it off and get the sample.
 

FeebysOwner

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I have met very few vets that don't shave the spot before drawing blood. Those who don't shave just soak the area with alcohol so to make the fur adhere to the skin and make the vein visible.
I had asked the vet to draw blood from Giada's jugular, but he said he was more comfortable with the hind leg.
I guess it just depends on location/area. In all the vets I have dealt with, not a one has ever shaved any of my cats to draw blood and have always used the hind leg. Thankfully, and knock on wood, there hasn't been one issue with this practice being used.

I hope Giada's sore heals up quickly!
 
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Antonio65

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Also, a dull blade or several swipes with the clippers on the same area.
This might be the case. I don't know if the blades were dull, but for sure the vet made a few (three or four) swipes on the same area to make sure it was clear.
But the vets did the same thing before with my other cat and never happened such a disaster. So, clearly Giada's skin is very sensitive.
 

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Those do look raw to me. I have had cats' legs shaved when they have had IV therapy, but never to that extent. Vet does not shave to take blood. However, I have had problems with "sanitary clips" which were too close on a rear end and which resulted in licking.
 
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Antonio65

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Nearly two weeks since the vet visit where the vet shaved the area clean for medication, my Giada's hair hasn't grown back at all.
I would expect to see a thin layer of hair by now, what I see is smooth skin. I'm getting worried, I think it will take months to see something on that leg. Unfortunately, Giada will have to wear that cone until her hair has grown fully back, or she will start licking again.
She's getting depressed, she hides and keep her head down in corners.

r2024_03_08 Giada zampa post dx.jpg
 
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silent meowlook

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She will for sure GI after it now, even though the skin looks okay? Poor cat.
 
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Antonio65

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She will for sure GI after it now, even though the skin looks okay? Poor cat.
I think so, because it isn't the itchy skin that drives her to lick it (at least this is what I believe), it's the fact that she feels her skin bare. So, unless there is hair over there, she will lick.
As I said in my OP, it happened before, but the issue fixed on its own in about three weeks on all occasions, and I have the photos of the progression of the healing and hair growing process. It is not happening the same now.
 

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Feeby took a long time to grow back hair when she had her belly shaved for an ultrasound - so much so that they didn't really have to re-shave her with her second ultrasound which was 4 months later. Her last ultrasound was 1 1/2 years ago, and her hair is not fully grown back. Gladly she doesn't mind. She was also like that after her spay 18 years ago (a bigger area was shaved back then).

I hope as time passes, if Giada's doesn't grow back, or grow back completely, she will adapt. In the meantime, you could use a onesie instead of the cone, at least for periods of time in order to give her a break from the cone. I would also occasionally remove the cone, and let her lick a little bit if she wants. Maybe it she is allowed to do it - just enough to quell the urge and not long enough to hurt the skin - she will eventually get over the obsession.
 
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Antonio65

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Feeby took a long time to grow back hair when she had her belly shaved for an ultrasound - so much so that they didn't really have to re-shave her with her second ultrasound which was 4 months later. Her last ultrasound was 1 1/2 years ago, and her hair is not fully grown back. Gladly she doesn't mind. She was also like that after her spay 18 years ago (a bigger area was shaved back then).
Thanks for your story. Well, I believe that 1 1/2 years and not having her hair completely grown back is really a long time.
Maybe Feeby is one of those cats with a slower hair growth? Both my cats have always fully recovered in two to three months, but in the first weeks I was able to see the regrowth.

In the meantime, you could use a onesie instead of the cone, at least for periods of time in order to give her a break from the cone. I would also occasionally remove the cone, and let her lick a little bit if she wants. Maybe it she is allowed to do it - just enough to quell the urge and not long enough to hurt the skin - she will eventually get over the obsession.
I tried a vest when she had the same kind of problem under her neck in December 2022 (see photo above), and she didn't stand it, she started peeing outside the litter box and wouldn't eat at all.
I could remove the cone for a while, during the weekend, provided that I can watch her and stop her as soon as she gets too obsessed with her leg.
 
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Antonio65

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The hair on Giada's leg is now growing back, though slowly. At the moment it's just a soft and very short fluff, but something is changing. I think that Giada could have a good layer of hair in another couple of weeks.
She has been wearing the cone for a month now, it was Feb 26th, and she'll have to wear it for some more time. I wonder how long a cat can stand the cone.
 

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Antonio, because the hair is growing back, could you try without the cone and see how she does? Maybe she won't lick it. You could put the cone back on for a while if she does. Hope she's doing well!
 
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