Dear Dr. Fox: I need some advice for my nearly 5-year-old cat. He is constantly scratching himself. He seems to be especially sensitive from about his mid-back to the base of his tail. He does not have fleas.
He is a somewhat large cat, so it is difficult for him to reach his lower back area. When he tries to do this, he loses his balance and tumbles over. He is also very insistent on someone petting him in this area. He will purr, mew, turn his head all around and then he will start trying to bite at something on his leg. I’ve noticed that he’s now managed to scratch a bald patch on his back.
We took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago, and he was diagnosed with dry skin. The vet had an oil product that could be placed on his food. My cat will not eat anything that is put into his food. How would you get a cat to consume something like this? The vet also recommended trying a humidifier.
He was given a steroid shot, which seemed to help for about a week. The vet did not think this problem was food-related. He eats Pro Plan Indoor Care Salmon and Rice. He is free fed and has five-eighths of a cup a day and never eats the entire bowl. I am not sure why he is so large.
— J.I., St Louis
Dear J.L.: One of my cats had the same problem, and after considering hyperesthesia syndrome (hyperthyroidism and food allergy/intolerance), he greatly improved after I removed salmon from his diet. For other cats it could be corn, beef, dairy products, eggs or even rice — you have to do some detective work.