The Norman Transcript

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March 28, 2013

Reader wonders if cat has flea allergy or hyperthyroidism

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I adopted two sweet sister cats nine years ago — Chase and Chochi. They’ve not had any major health issues until recently. They are indoor cats, although they are allowed to go out on our deck with us.

More than a year ago, I noticed Chase had lost some fur on her lower abdomen. Shortly after, we embarked on a home renovation that was loud, dusty and forced us to leave our Maryland home for several months and move into a vacation home in West Virginia.

In West Virginia, I found a vet who said Chase was overgrooming due to a flea saliva allergy. She recommended Comfortis. She also noticed Chochi was overgrooming the same area, so both cats began the drug.

Neither cat improved, so we went back to the vet, who found Chase, in particular, had redness and a possible staph overgrowth. Blood work on Chase was normal. Both cats received antibiotic injections, two doses one week apart.

Chochi improved, but Chase began removing more fur. She received a shot of steroids and two laser treatments. The vet also recommended resuming the Comfortis, and the redness went away.

We moved back to Maryland, and Chase continued to overgroom. She now has bare-looking thighs, abdomen and upper chest. I took her to a vet two weeks ago, and this vet observed that Chase had no noticeable irritation and diagnosed her as having “psychogenic alopecia.” She recommended continuing the flea treatment and starting with a homeopathic remedy. It seems to have had no effect. The next recommendation was Prozac.

Help! Since the cats are essentially indoor cats, I have wondered about the accuracy of the flea allergy diagnosis and treatment. I have never seen a flea, although at the start of the treatment ordeal, the vet did observe some possible flea casings in Chase’s fur. The deck in West Virginia occasionally gets mouse and squirrel visits; the Maryland deck has only birds.

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