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Coat changing with age
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mpsmom posted:
I have a 16.5 yo male DS. All of a sudden (within the past several months), he's started looking like he was losing undercoat on his back legs (large tufts of soft fuzzy fur that just pull out fairly easily). Those tufts are kinda turning to mats now and he's really not happy with me trying to brush out the fur back there. And, on one of his back legs, the fur just looks dirty. He's still very active and has no problems jumping on me, the bed, etc (unlike the other boy how is supposedly around the same age). Do cat's coat change as they age or should I be concerned about a health issue. He eats and drinks fine and weighs in about 11-12 lbs (he's a big boy, long, so he's actually pretty skinny). Eats what the other three do, Friskies, Meow Mix, 9 lives, etc, dry and canned (canned about 3-4 times a week).
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rohvannyn responded:
Elderly cats don't have much change to their coats unless there is some kind of health problem. I have known twenty year old cats who have fur that is just fine. My first instinct would be to check his thyroid, but that's just a wild guess. This sounds like a good reason to at least consult with your vet, and get him in for a check up. Him being underweight would also be a sign of a problem with his thyroid, by the way, though it really could be any number of other things.
 
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AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP responded:
That's an excellent question. In cats, changes in their haircoat (dull, separated, matted, color change, etc.) are often the first indication of an internal disease. It's not specific to any one disease but can be things like kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, etc. This is different than dogs and humans, where changes in the hair are often caused by skin diseases. It's an early opportunity to find out if there's something wrong with your geriatric cat before serious symptoms develop, so it's time for your cat to visit his veterinarian for a checkup.

Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP
The Cat Doctor
Board Certified in Feline Practice
 
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mpsmom replied to Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP's response:
Thanks for the replies. I did take him to the vet and they did blood work. Everything, kidney, liver, cell count, thyroid, blood sugar, etc are all within normal ranges. I took him home and shaved some of the mats off. He has a undercoat that he never really had as a youngster. Does that normally change in cats? He is dirty and could really use a bath (lots of dust storms here and he spends time in the screen enclosed porch), but all the mats are gone and as the hair grows back, I'll just make sure to brush him more frequently so the emerging undercoat doesn't mat.
 
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rohvannyn replied to mpsmom's response:
I've known cats who developed undercoats at different ages. My newest cat was single coated as a kitten but has developed an undercoat. My mom's cats are famous for ending up totally different than when they were young, coatwise. She had one who actually changed his markings considerably as he aged, and seemed to change in some way every few years. He lived to sixteen.

I think your plan is good, and I'm really glad to hear the vets didn't have anything bad to report. At least you now have peace of mind. I've also known cats to grow thicker coats in response to seasonal change, an exceptionally hard winter coming, or differing light levels.
 
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mpsmom replied to rohvannyn's response:
Living in the valley of the sun, we really don't have harsh winters and since it's over 100 right now, he should be blowing his new undercoat. Trey is a tuxedo and never really changed (except for this new undercoat), but I have a cat (that I swear is at least part Burmin) and on occasion, he's been shaved. He's mostly white with orange ears and a few little waves of orange. The first time he was shaved (don't ask, it was an ex roommate who was technically the owner), just his back was shaved (think reverse mohawk). It grew back orange! Then he was shaved again (the back and a little more down the sides) and it grew back white. He hasn't been shaved again, but I wonder if it'd grow back orange again.
 
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rohvannyn replied to mpsmom's response:
Well, there goes that theory! The cat I knew who changed color all his life was almost pure Birman.


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