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Bald patches on cat's throat
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elizabeth_1 posted:
My 4-year-old long-haired cat has approximately 5 bald patches on this throat that are each about the size of a quarter (actually, only one is truly bald; the other 4 are in various stages of regrowth). When some of the them have developed, they have looked slightly pinker than his normal skin, with teeny brown spots in the follicles (which look perhaps like mini scabs). The skin then heals within a day or so and the fur grows back. Yesterday he lost a clump of fur, and the spot it came out of looked mostly normal--just slightly pink. The lost clump looks a bit tangled, so I'm wondering if his long fur is getting caught on objects when he squeezes into tight spaces (he has some broken whiskers from doing this). However, if this were the case, I would expect to see missing hair on this belly or back, and after a thorough check, the only other bald spots I have found are immediately surrounding his nipples.

When he went in for his checkup in November, the vet suggested that the cause was the collar part of his harness. However, I only used his harness on him once during all of Jan, Feb, and March, and while his fur loss did restart (he didn't lose any during December, January, or February) about a week after I used his harness (for control during a bath at the beginning of March), I don't see how the harness could continue to cause fur loss for three weeks after using it. I did use baby shampoo on him which might be the culprit, except his skin doesn't seem irritated enough for it to be contact dermatitis, and I also washed him with baby shampoo around Christmas and he didn't lose any. (However, after learning that baby shampoo might not have the correct pH for a cat's skin, I will only use pet shampoo from now on, if I can find one that rinses clean like baby shampoo.)

Another possible cause could be that he sometimes is really hungry and drops food on this throat (his fur actually smells like his food right now, which is why I bathe him every 1-2 months). The probiotics in the food are three different bacterial species (no yeast). However, I've been feeding him this food since he was a baby, and he's been a messy eater since he was a baby. The fur loss didn't start until last summer.

My cat doesn't seem to be scratching much or over-grooming. He cleans his neck and throat after eating (when he makes a mess), but that's about it, as far as I can tell (of course, I don't have a camera to see what's happening when I'm gone).

My vet takes a minimalist approach, so she might not suggest a bunch (or any) testing. Would swabbing the skin and testing be warranted in this case? Which tests might I ask her about? I was thinking about asking about fungus and mange in particular, because from what I understand, those things can cause hair loss without much irritation or itching (which is consistent with my cat's hair loss).

I can add some pictures later, if it would help.
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AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP responded:
There are many, many causes of hair loss in cats, as I'm sure you know. Fungal infections are not uncommon, while mange is rare in cats. Still, these are easy diagnostic tests to perform. Overgrooming or pulling out hair mats is also a possibility. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a board certified dermatologist or feline specialist. That will at least let her know you're serious about treating this condition.

Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP
The Cat Doctor
Board Certified in Feline Practice
 
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elizabeth_1 replied to Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP's response:
Thanks for your reply.

I took my kitty to the vet this past Tuesday. I said I wanted to rule out ringworm and yeast, and hinted that I wanted a fungal culture. My vet said that ringworm is very distinctive, and it doesn't look like he has it. She suspects that he has inhalant allergies, which usually develop between 3-5 years old (he's 4). She thought that a steroid injection might be a way to diagnosis him (if the fur stops falling out, it's probably an allergy). After discussing possible side effects and complications of the injection (I was concerned about Cushings, diabetes, etc.), I was reassured that the injection usually has few side effects in cats, so I okayed it. It's a few days later and he seems to be doing fine. What's strange is that for the past few nights, while brushing his teeth, I haven't had to clean any eye goop out of the corners of his eyes. It could just be a crazy coincidence, but if it goes for a whole week like that it would be really hard to believe.

If the steroid really helps, I might put my cat on a carefully designed, cooked homemade diet. Currently he eats EVO dry Turkey and Chicken, which I add water to. There is this idea that everyone has a histamine threshold (obviously, some histamine is required for normal function), and once you go over that threshold, you start having bothersome symptoms. Sometimes you go over that threshold just by having an allergic response to something (either inhalant or food), but other times you don't notice symptoms until the histamine produced due to the allergy and dietary histamine (from high-histamine foods like cheese, vinegar, sauerkraut, yogurt, meat and poultry that aren't fresh (or frozen immediately after cooked, if not eaten), fish that wasn't gutted and cooked immediately) combine to push you over your histamine threshold. This idea has been tested only a little in humans, and probably not at all in cats, but it might be worth a try to give my cat fresh food, so long as I have a carefully balanced recipe.


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