Wondering what could be causing skin problems with my two indoor cats

nidaho

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For probably a year now, one of my cats, Tesla, has had some bald spots and scabs come and go on and around his ears. He's been to the vet various times, given sterrhoids and it's cleared up, but again he has a little bald patch and definitely scratching the area fairly often. My other cat Leia hasn't seemed to have skin problems until a few weeks ago I noticed a bad looking scab on her shoulder/lower neck area. It seems like it might have been caused either by Tesla or by getting scratched by something, because it doesn't look like she can quite reach that spot with her claws. I took her to the vet after noticing it and they gave me an antibiotic ointment to apply once a day. Over the next couple weeks, she lost quite a bit of hair around the scab area, and it wasn't seeming to clear up at all.

Last weekend she must have scratched just below it (as far as she could reach) to the point where it was bleeding, and made the whole area look a lot worse again... So another vet trip later, she's had an antibiotic injection, we're told to continue applying the ointment now 3 times a day, and have been given sterrhoids to give both of our cats.

The vet has apparently ruled out any type of mites, they say their skin looks good otherwise and no other signs of concern, and don't like the idea of assuming the cats could be having irritation from the food they're on because it's a metabolic urinary one (specifically for Tesla). I asked about changing their litter since we use a scented one - one vet said he wouldn't bother, and the other vet said it's worth switching to unscented and seeing if that makes any difference (this was just today so haven't gotten to try that yet). other than that, we have a dog who seems to be having no issues, and we generally keep the house pretty free of dust as I'm an asmatic and have allergies too.

I'm hoping someone will read this who might have gone through something similar with their cats and was able to get it sorted out. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!
 
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tarasgirl06

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For probably a year now, one of my cats, Tesla, has had some bald spots and scabs come and go on and around his ears. He's been to the vet various times, given sterrhoids and it's cleared up, but again he has a little bald patch and definitely scratching the area fairly often. My other cat Leia hasn't seemed to have skin problems until a few weeks ago I noticed a bad looking scab on her shoulder/lower neck area. It seems like it might have been caused either by Tesla or by getting scratched by something, because it doesn't look like she can quite reach that spot with her claws. I took her to the vet after noticing it and they gave me an antibiotic ointment to apply once a day. Over the next couple weeks, she lost quite a bit of hair around the scab area, and it wasn't seeming to clear up at all. Last weekend she must have scratched just below it (as far as she could reach) to the point where it was bleeding, and made the whole area look a lot worse again... So another vet trip later, she's had an antibiotic injection, we're told to continue applying the ointment now 3 times a day, and have been given sterrhoids to give both of our cats. The vet has apparently ruled out any type of mites, they say their skin looks good otherwise and no other signs of concern, and don't like the idea of assuming the cats could be having irritation from the food they're on because it's a metabolic urinary one (specifically for Tesla). I asked about changing their litter since we use a scented one - one vet said he wouldn't bother, and the other vet said it's worth switching to unscented and seeing if that makes any difference (this was just today so haven't gotten to try that yet). other than that, we have a dog who seems to be having no issues, and we generally keep the house pretty free of dust as I'm an asmatic and have allergies too. I'm hoping someone will read this who might have gone through something similar with their cats and was able to get it sorted out. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!
Hello N nidaho and family, and welcome to TCS! I am sorry your cats are having these problems. Sometimes skin problems can be caused by food allergies. Not sure about your cats, of course. But it might be something to ask about. As for the litter, cats do not as a rule like scented litters -- the chemically derived scents are very strong to a cat, and can be irritating. *I don't like them myself.* We use a clumping litter, SoPhresh from Petco/Petco.com which is unscented but very good. Cats in their natural state prefer a sandy substrate, and this litter has a sandy texture they like. We've used it for years for many cats and never had any problems with it. You might try filling one box with it and offering it to them to see if they like it.
If ear mites and other insect pests have definitely been ruled out, those are the reasons that may cause irritation that come to mind; stress is another. Are your cats ever stressed? Cats are very sensitive and all of their senses are fairly acute, especially smell and hearing. They do not like loud noise or lots of activity around them.
Best thoughts and wishes for your cats! I hope the cause can be found and cleared up quickly.
 

di and bob

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Do your cats 'spar' with each other? I have noticed that after my cats roll around play fighting, they develop scabs sometimes. if your cats are doing this it may explain it, then the healing small scratches get itchy. Other than that I would look into food allergies, even if it is specifically for Tesla it doesn't mean she couldn't develop allergies to it. She may be allergic to a filler that was changed in it. or it could be treats snacks.
 

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When I first got Hemingway, he had almost no fur because he obsessively licked himself. (He also took really gross poops.) After a vet visit, she suggested we start giving him half a Zyrtec every day and to also remove chicken from his diet. Apparently, chicken allergies are more common than you'd expect, especially considering so much cat food has it. Since doing it, he started getting fluffy. Obviously don't give your cat anything without the consent of the vet, but you might try eliminating chicken. As you can tell from the photos below, it made a HUGE difference. I feed him a combination of Tiki Cat and Soulistic Cat Food. Both have non-chicken options.

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tarasgirl06

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We're big Soulistic fans here, too, linkworshiper linkworshiper (and BTW, Hemingway is very fine indeed! Does he have some extra digits?) We don't have any food allergies, but yes, chicken is apparently a big problem for a lot of cats. Maybe daftcat75 daftcat75 will want to get in on this convo. He knows about that, and about foods that are safe for cats with allergy to chicken.
 

daftcat75

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I recommend Rawz for testing food allergies. They have a lot of single protein foods that don't have extra unnecessary ingredients. If you suspect food to be the source of his itching, and that's actually a decent guess, then I would caution against fish as well. You'll also have to be diligent about treats. Even pill pockets have chicken ingredients.

A food I recommend:
96% Rabbit PÂTÉ | RAWZ

Turkey is another option. But beware of other brands that mix chicken into their turkey recipes. Even Fancy Feast's Turkey with Giblets has poultry giblets which my Krista assured me had enough chicken in the poultry giblets to be problematic with her.

Treats I recommend:
Feline Natural Booster Lamb Green Tripe Freeze-Dried Cat Food Topper, 2-oz bag - Chewy.com

You're encouraged to give food trials up to 13 weeks to see results. But you should really see a difference quicker than that if he's truly allergic to chicken and/or fish.
 

linkworshiper

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We're big Soulistic fans here, too, linkworshiper linkworshiper (and BTW, Hemingway is very fine indeed! Does he have some extra digits?)
Yeah, Soulistic has definitely become the fan favorite here. I started buying it for Hemingway, our other cat must have started smelling it or something, because he basically went on a hunger strike until he started getting Soulistic as well. Now Reginald licks his plate clean, which is a relief for me since I can trick him into eating his special diet food this way.

As for Hemingway, it was the name he had in the shelter. I thought I would keep it since I live down the street from the writer's birth home. Obviously people ask about his toes a lot, which sadly, are just normal beans :p

Oooh, thanks for the tip on treats. That was the one thing I've yet to find a good non-chicken solution for.
 

daftcat75

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Yeah, Soulistic has definitely become the fan favorite here. I started buying it for Hemingway, our other cat must have started smelling it or something, because he basically went on a hunger strike until he started getting Soulistic as well. Now Reginald licks his plate clean, which is a relief for me since I can trick him into eating his special diet food this way.

As for Hemingway, it was the name he had in the shelter. I thought I would keep it since I live down the street from the writer's birth home. Obviously people ask about his toes a lot, which sadly, are just normal beans :p



Oooh, thanks for the tip on treats. That was the one thing I've yet to find a good non-chicken solution for.
The lamb tripe treats were very popular with Krista after she had her remaining teeth extracted (tooth resorption.) They are soft enough for her to gum them up enough before swallowing.
 

LTS3

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Oooh, thanks for the tip on treats. That was the one thing I've yet to find a good non-chicken solution for.

Any non-chicken freeze dried 100% meat treat is suitable. Lots of brands: Vital Essentials, PureBites, Northwest Naturals, Halo Liv-a-Littles, Whole Life, etc.


The vet has apparently ruled out any type of mites, they say their skin looks good otherwise and no other signs of concern, and don't like the idea of assuming the cats could be having irritation from the food they're on because it's a metabolic urinary one (specifically for Tesla).
Prescription food is still full of ingredients which can cause reactions in cats: grains, starches, etc. Vets push prescription food because they really have no idea about proper nutrition and listen to whatever a big name pet food brand tells them about how great the products are. Read this: Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition – Common Sense. Healthy Cats.

Prescription food isn't needed for most health issues anyways.

Most urinary issues can be managed with a canned food only diet. Getting plenty of water into the cat keeps the urine well diluted and prevents most crystals and such from forming. Cat Urinary Tract Diseases: Cystitis, Urethral Obstruction, Urinary Tract Infection

It's ok to disagree with the vet and even question the current treatment. Seek out another vet at a different hospital if you feel like the current vet isn't giving you any answers.
 

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Yeah, Soulistic has definitely become the fan favorite here. I started buying it for Hemingway, our other cat must have started smelling it or something, because he basically went on a hunger strike until he started getting Soulistic as well. Now Reginald licks his plate clean, which is a relief for me since I can trick him into eating his special diet food this way.

As for Hemingway, it was the name he had in the shelter. I thought I would keep it since I live down the street from the writer's birth home. Obviously people ask about his toes a lot, which sadly, are just normal beans :p



Oooh, thanks for the tip on treats. That was the one thing I've yet to find a good non-chicken solution for.
"Sadly"? They're adorable beans! :loveeyes:
 

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daftcat75 daftcat75 hey, I was looking at the food you shared Rawz, and I thought the issue with non prescription food is cross contamination? Meaning, the conveyor belt can have chicken food and it may be cleaned good, bad or not at all, and then the rabbit goes across and it now has bits of chicken in the food.

That is what I understood from my vet about that.

Edit; The food looks good, too bad there is no dry food without chicken, but I like the looks of the wet food
 

tarasgirl06

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daftcat75 daftcat75 hey, I was looking at the food you shared Rawz, and I thought the issue with non prescription food is cross contamination? Meaning, the conveyor belt can have chicken food and it may be cleaned good, bad or not at all, and then the rabbit goes across and it now has bits of chicken in the food.

That is what I understood from my vet about that.

Edit; The food looks good, too bad there is no dry food without chicken, but I like the looks of the wet food
Excellent point, mrw5641 mrw5641 -- a lot of human-specific foods have disclaimers that they were made/packaged in facilities that also make/package other foods which may be allergens. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have those disclaimers on food for cats. They should.
 

daftcat75

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daftcat75 daftcat75 hey, I was looking at the food you shared Rawz, and I thought the issue with non prescription food is cross contamination? Meaning, the conveyor belt can have chicken food and it may be cleaned good, bad or not at all, and then the rabbit goes across and it now has bits of chicken in the food.

That is what I understood from my vet about that.

Edit; The food looks good, too bad there is no dry food without chicken, but I like the looks of the wet food
I think this is a smaller issue than your vet would have you to believe. In humans, certain allergens cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Food allergies and thus cross contamination rarely (ever?) result in anaphylaxis in cats. Rawz shares facilities with human food manufacturing and canning. Thus you can be assured they strip down and wash their equipment between every batch.

A bigger concern is hidden or adjunct ingredients: natural flavorings and “poultry” ingredients of unspecified origin eg poultry byproducts or poultry giblets.

A lot of non-animal foods in dry food—starches, grains, vegetables, etc—may not be allergens. (Some are.) But they can rise to the level of irritant (vomiting and abnormal stools.) The difference between irritant and allergen is whether the immune system gets involved. Carrageenan is an irritant whereas chicken protein can be an allergen. If food sensitivities or allergies are suspected, you’d do well to avoid dry food altogether. Otherwise it can become maddening trying to figure out which ingredient(s) your cat is reacting to.
 

Hoslund0821

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For probably a year now, one of my cats, Tesla, has had some bald spots and scabs come and go on and around his ears. He's been to the vet various times, given sterrhoids and it's cleared up, but again he has a little bald patch and definitely scratching the area fairly often. My other cat Leia hasn't seemed to have skin problems until a few weeks ago I noticed a bad looking scab on her shoulder/lower neck area. It seems like it might have been caused either by Tesla or by getting scratched by something, because it doesn't look like she can quite reach that spot with her claws. I took her to the vet after noticing it and they gave me an antibiotic ointment to apply once a day. Over the next couple weeks, she lost quite a bit of hair around the scab area, and it wasn't seeming to clear up at all.

Last weekend she must have scratched just below it (as far as she could reach) to the point where it was bleeding, and made the whole area look a lot worse again... So another vet trip later, she's had an antibiotic injection, we're told to continue applying the ointment now 3 times a day, and have been given sterrhoids to give both of our cats.

The vet has apparently ruled out any type of mites, they say their skin looks good otherwise and no other signs of concern, and don't like the idea of assuming the cats could be having irritation from the food they're on because it's a metabolic urinary one (specifically for Tesla). I asked about changing their litter since we use a scented one - one vet said he wouldn't bother, and the other vet said it's worth switching to unscented and seeing if that makes any difference (this was just today so haven't gotten to try that yet). other than that, we have a dog who seems to be having no issues, and we generally keep the house pretty free of dust as I'm an asmatic and have allergies too.

I'm hoping someone will read this who might have gone through something similar with their cats and was able to get it sorted out. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!
Could they be getting into something? Cats are also really sensitive to human products so I try to be mindful of petting them after I applied thick lotion etc....
 

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Tim had two bouts of dermatitis, after second bout I went to a dust free litter. (Prednisone cleared it up both times). I also switched his food, but that was after checking with the vet first. That was two years ago and hasn't come back, knock on wood
 

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Most urinary issues can be managed with a canned food only diet. Getting plenty of water into the cat keeps the urine well diluted and prevents most crystals and such from forming. Cat Urinary Tract Diseases: Cystitis, Urethral Obstruction, Urinary Tract Infection

It's ok to disagree with the vet and even question the current treatment. Seek out another vet at a different hospital if you feel like the current vet isn't giving you any answers.
It's interesting you say that, because my other cat is on Hill's Perscription for his kidneys. The chicken in the food has caused a lot of gymnastics at feeding time, since Hemingway always wants to eat EvErYtHiNg. I wonder if I really need to give it to Reginald? He seems happier eating Soulistic seafood/duck/lamb anyway. But I don't want to top feeding it to him and then have it affect his health. He's getting a bit old.
 

tarasgirl06

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It's interesting you say that, because my other cat is on Hill's Perscription for his kidneys. The chicken in the food has caused a lot of gymnastics at feeding time, since Hemingway always wants to eat EvErYtHiNg. I wonder if I really need to give it to Reginald? He seems happier eating Soulistic seafood/duck/lamb anyway. But I don't want to top feeding it to him and then have it affect his health. He's getting a bit old.
Personally, I think Science Diet is dreck and would never feed it to any cat. A lot of it contains pork, which again, I would never feed to any cat (or human). The prescription diets look and smell extremely unpalatable and when one of my cats was prescribed one formula, he absolutely WOULD NOT eat it so I took it back. Vets push what the salesmen foist on them, just like doctors push what the biomedical houses push on them. A pusher is a pusher is a pusher. I buy accordingly.
 

linkworshiper

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Personally, I think Science Diet is dreck and would never feed it to any cat. A lot of it contains pork, which again, I would never feed to any cat (or human). The prescription diets look and smell extremely unpalatable and when one of my cats was prescribed one formula, he absolutely WOULD NOT eat it so I took it back. Vets push what the salesmen foist on them, just like doctors push what the biomedical houses push on them. A pusher is a pusher is a pusher. I buy accordingly.
I am going to try feeding the science diet less. My main concern is getting Reginald to eat. If he doesn't need that expensive stuff, I'd be glad.
 

tarasgirl06

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I am going to try feeding the science diet less. My main concern is getting Reginald to eat. If he doesn't need that expensive stuff, I'd be glad.
I'd always buy the best I can afford for cats, because not only do I love my cats and want the best for them, it pays off in the long run in good health, so fewer vet visits. But I don't consider Science Diet quality food. At all.
 
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