Q: My 10-year-old cat began to over-groom himself a year ago. An Internet search I did suggested stress might be a cause. My cat doesn’t seem stressed. The vet suggested meds to calm the cat. Any other ideas? D.H., Methuen, Mass.
Q: My cat has been scratching and eating his fur for some time now. I was told to give him prednisalone (a steroid) but that didn’t cure the problem. Can you help before all his fur is gone? I.L., Litchfield, Conn.
A: Veterinary behaviorist Gary Lansberg and veterinary dermatologist Stephen Waisglass, of Thornhill, Ont., have studied cats diagnosed with the self-mutilating act of pulling out their own hair, called psychogenic alopecia. They learned there was almost always an underlying physical explanation.
“Both these cats require another thorough exam,” says Landsberg. “Being hyperthyroid could have had something to do with the onset (of the self-licking), but be sure to have the veterinarian look for early kidney disease and diabetes in that cat. Any cat that is over-grooming should be checked for parasites (external and internal). Once a disease process and parasites are ruled out, real considerations are a food intolerance or inhalant allergies…”