East Dulwich (Mobile) Forum

Any cat behavioural experts on here?

Long shot but two visits to the vet in 6 weeks has solved nothing so far. Wondered if anyone on here might have some words of wisdom.

We have 2 cats. Male and female, brother and sister. Both 5 years old. We also have a 13 month old toddler.

The female cat has always been more independent, and is much more wary of the baby. Our tom cat has always been more like a dog really, not bothered about going outside, always up for a cuddle. He will approach the baby and lets the baby touch him, so appears on the surface to be less wary than his sister.

In December we noticed our tom cat was losing weight and his fur was falling out. We took him to the vet, gave him flea and worming treatments. No improvement. Took him back to the vet after 6 weeks. Vet said she thinks its stress caused by the baby. The pattern of fur loss is classic overgrooming, she said. So I bought some Feliway. Fur loss has continued to get worse. Poor soul just looks so ravaged. His sister appears totally fine.

Apart from the fur loss I haven't noticed any change in his behaviour. His appetite is the same. He does pick fights with his sister when the baby is crying so clearly there is some stress there. The fur loss started about the same time the baby started both crawling and cut his first teeth. Baby has been teething constantly since so lots of crying in the night etc. Cat had not lost any more weight between his first and second visit to the vet.

I feel a bit helpless just watching our cat appear to get worse and worse. I only have 1 Feliway plug in at the moment, should I buy another one for upstairs (even though it doesn't appear to be working)? We try and make a fuss of him after the baby has gone to bed. I have changed the floor cleaner to Ecover in case there was a chemical in the other one that was irritating him. I have not changed his food.

If anyone has any other ideas or tips I would really appreciate hearing them.

Thanks in advance!
Has he had a blood test?
No the vet did not suggest a blood test. She seemed fairly certain it is stress, because of the perceived overgrooming.

Just wanted to add also that since the beginning of January the baby has been at nursery full time, so is out of the house from 7.30 to 6.30pm every day and then asleep most of the time when he is at home (except weekends obviously).

There is a newish cat in the vicinity but I have not seen or heard any fighting between them.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit was march 06, 09:22pm by fatcats.

Maybe get a second opinion from another vet to definitely rule out any medical cause?

Then at least you are sure what you are dealing with.

(Unless you have 100% confidence in the original vet).

Good luck. Poor cat.
Interesting and I do feel for you .

We have 2 cats ,siblings like yours .The male is big and soppy and frightened of things .They are not friends .

The female is alert and very independent .The female has hair/fur loss all down her back .She's had this for about 8 months now .While the area seems to be spreading it is at least not looking sore and the fur is growing back .But happy in herself and eating fine .

She has been to the Neighborhood vet and has had v expensive blood tests which showed nothing ,steriods and anti biotics neither of which made much difference .And Feliaway - the "friends " one for multi cat households which did reduce the nos of brother and sister spats but didn't reduce the overgrooming .Which the vet thinks is probably allergy related - dust ? She has regular Frontline or whatever it's called .

Then prescribed incredibly expensive circa £100 auto immune suppresant liquid which we cannot get her to take .

I can't afford repeated Neighborhood vet visits and I'm giving her ant histamines ( half a tablet a day ) and this seems to help a bit .

My next step is going to be vet at Pets for us on Old Kent Rd to get another view .And because they are cheaper .

Would love to know how you get on with your cat .

Much sympathy ,especially since you also have sleepless nights and a baby .
Or even anti histamines !
Thanks both for your kinds words and advice.

Sue, he has been seen by two different vets at the Norwood Road practice. He hasn't been seen by Ellie though who I think is the cat guru there. So perhaps we will take him back in another month or so if it's showing no improvement. He's fully up to date with all his jabs and health checks.

intexas - that's interesting thank you. I may check with the vet to see if it is ok to give him antihistamines. He had a steroid injection when we first took him to the vet. I'm not sure if it helped or not really but it only stays in the system for 2 weeks.

I didn't actually know there was more than one variety of Feliway so thanks for that. Perhaps I need to check the other one out.

I will keep you posted intexas!
I have heard such good reports about Ellie from many friends, she is definitely as you say a 'cat guru'. I think that's a great plan to see her if no improvement. Good luck, keep us posted. ☺🐱☺
Reading with interest - a cat guru .That's helpful to have a cat specialist recommended .
If this is not an illness then might it be a social issue? The obvious remedy for a social issue is to make the cat feel special again? Suggest dedicated play time, and treats (such as webbox, fresh food treats such as turkey and crab, if he can stomach it a teaspoon of double cream occasionally, and Kong brand premium dried catnip (class A drugs for cats, give good pinch on safe area of carpet just as you turn the lights out at night). I think it may be less 'behaviour' and more 'recognition' and feeling safe?

Also, does he have his own dedicated sleeping space, with a towel or whatever that you can wash from time to time? For example, an open suitcase under a bed, or a dog bed or equiv. higher up somewhere?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was march 08, 07:44pm by jaywalker.

If there is no outward physical reasons (even skin complaints/allergies) it sounds more like a psychological issue.
We had a cat that after having his microchip put in when he was young would periodically over wash and pull his fur out in the area for weeks. This was long after the chip was implanted, over the course of his life and at random times. There was no obvious reason for it but when thinking things over it did usually coincide with visits from strangers, especially children. He was a friendly chum loving the attention, always curious when people came to visit but did get stressed with strangers at the same time. We'd take him to the vets each time to make sure there was nothing untoward going on and he'd get a shot of antibiotics just in case of infection and he'd also get a steroid to lessen the itching (if it was itching) but was associated with stress than any actual physical health issue.

I think the best thing to do is to keep giving your feline chum lots of attention and reassurance. As difficult as it might be whilst handling the children at the same time, if he is finding things difficult (baby crying) it would help if he knew everything was ok. It might be that the crying in itself (the sound) is upsetting or could be hes concerned when the baby cries. There's lots of possibilities. I would continue to monitor his progress. It might look ugly and maybe even painful but if the weight is good and he is normal self other than the missing fur there's not much else to do.
Sadly Dr Dolittle is only fictional or they're be a Q for miles for sessions on the couch!
Have you tried music for cats, mine feline loves this, I put it on very low when I am out "Classics for cats" calms, soothes and de-stresses.

Thank you all for your ideas and advice. I am trying to make a fuss of him and will try some catnip - any reason why last thing at night?

He sleeps on the sofa at night or on our bed while we're at work. Or on the kitchen floor (we've got underfloor heating which both the cats think is the best thing ever). He seems pretty happy with those choices.

What worries me is it seems to be getting worse and not better. It started on his belly and back legs, now its his front legs too. First a couple of small patches, now big bald patches on his front and back legs. And the top of his back legs. Just more bald patches appearing all the time. While I am happy to consider it might be anxiety about the baby, or feeling pushed out, this fur loss started when the baby was 10-11 months old. So for 10 months there was no issue, even when the baby was newborn. I just don't get it unless it is the fact he's mobile now. But he's hardly around, he's at nursery or in bed for the vast majority of the day.
My mate used coconut oil externally on her cat,
HE lost hair after moving house, vet couldn't find anything else. Hope you find something that'l help.
Wow, had never heard of giving/applying coconut oil to cats before but after a quick google it looks like it's quite a common thing. Thank you for that, we have some in the house so might be worth a try.
I understand that to you, the baby is not around much, but for the cat THE WORLD IS ENDING!! They're funny creatures.

I'm no expert, but have a lot of experience fostering/rehoming cats (100+) as well as working with them. And I agree that it sounds behavioural. Sure, it could be physical but the level of diagnostics required to rule everything out would cost A LOT and be very time consuming & stressful for the cat. Feliway is great, but also v pricey.
I think someone else has suggested special time with the cat, which is spot on. Does he have his own space? An area preferably with a door to close & window to look out of? Some cats prefer higher spaces (on top of wardrobes etc) while others prefer den-like spaces. Either way, give the cat a place that he knows is his, safe, and kid-free.

To be honest, it sounds like you might want to think of re-homing him. As heart-breaking as that might be for you, it might be in his best interests. Shelters & rescues are always over stretched so you'd be better off asking around your friends & family (who have no littlies).

Good luck
It is worth adding that cats are instinctively fearful of small children, and with good reason. Children are not yet part of the human-cat contract (a very recent evolution): to them, cats are rather like mice for play to well-fed cats (in the same way that young children regard parents as little more than a means to satisfy and amplify their narcissistic desires).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was march 11, 08:34pm by jaywalker.

I don't know any cats who are trained behavioural experts.
I think I saw some kind of plug in aromatherapy thing for cats on the tv recently to improve behaviour?
I like the Dibble approach, although iy has limited success
The female cat is more wary of the baby, and her fur is fine... I'm thinking it's not the baby stressing your Tomcat. It's micro agressions from the female who is the stressed one. You may not even notice, because cats can be subtle. Micro agressions don't include outright fighting. They may happen when you're not around too. Make sure your Tom has space away from the female cat.

I wouldn't rehoming unless you absolutely have to do so, because rehoming in itself is stressful. Our cats had their noses very much out of joint with our baby. Seven years later they are sitting in her lap. xx
Thank you all, lots of food for thought. Not going to rehome him.

It doesn't make sense that he was absolutely fine for the first 10 months of the baby's life. And both cats get on pretty well on the whole, despite occasional sibling spats (the first night we plugged in the Feliway they both disappeared and we found them asleep and cuddling each other on the bed). Also there's the weight loss despite no reduction in appetite (he's always been greedy, waits under the highchair to catch the scraps).

We're just trying to make a big fuss of him at every opportunity. He probably wishes we would just leave him alone!
Bloodwork is expensive for pets, but you should rule out diabetes or thyroid problems, as these are not uncommon in cats. xx

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