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codette's avatar

Feliway (stress reducing pheremone) sufficient for cat with weight & hair loss?

Asked by codette (394 points ) August 3rd, 2012

6 year old cat, been underweight for a year and has lost fur on her belly and back legs in past couple of months. Boyfriend suspects licking, I wonder if it’s illness.
History:
-Hemobartonella, when she was a couple years old.
-2 years ago she moved to my mom’s farm while I traveled for many months; she got a stress-induced “cold,” lost energy and appetite, medicine caused further loss of appetite, and she nearly died. Only an appetite stimulant from the pet store saved her.
-Moved 1,000 miles just over a year ago, into a new apartment with new boyfriend, plus introduced 2 cockatiels to the family. She is snooty around the birds (knows not to eat them but is resentful of the attention they get) and runs from the boyfriend half the time (even though he tries so hard, she only likes him part-time).

Have taken her to the vet twice over the past year about weight loss. The first time they told me she was in the normal range, but I knew she was thin compared to her norm. Now, she has lost even more weight, looks like an elderly cat, and started losing hair a few months ago. On visit #2, blood and thyroid checked out (thyroid just barely) and the suggestion was anti-anxiety treatments including a calming pheremone plug-in. We did not check urine or do a full panel because I didn’t have the money. The vet’s gut feeling was thyroid, but it was just barely in the acceptable range, so now she says stress.

Besides the birds, Lucy doesn’t seem unhappy. She has lots of property to hunt on and I still spoil her. I am transitioning off indoor formula food since she’s outdoors again, and I’ve even been mixing that appetite stimulant into canned food. She gets all her flea/tick/worm meds. Still skinny & half naked.

Have you ever used Feliway or anti-anxiety meds on cats? Do you think the vet has been thorough enough?

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7 Answers

Mariah's avatar

I have used Feliway, but not for treatment of a condition. We sprayed it in my cat’s cage when we moved him to our new house (6 hour drive), because he usually gets very anxious in the car. It seemed to help, he didn’t cry at all during the ride like he usually does. Can’t tell you much more than that, hopefully someone else can be more helpful. Good luck!

Coloma's avatar

I tried the feliway for a new cat intro. last year, honestly, I didn’t notice any effects.
I bought both the diffuser and spray.
The new cat hated my cat and it just got worse and worse over a 6 week period, so the stray cat was adopted by my daughter who originally found her.

That cat has OCD grooming issues also and I know there is a shot of hormones she received that mimic pregnant cat, lovey, dovey feelings that helped for awhile but she still has bald patches on her belly and hind legs.
They have her on a grain free food, extra omega 3 oils and advantage, even thoguh she goes out rarely. It’s a mystery as the diet changes and flea treatment has made no difference at all.

Infact, my daughter is looking for a cat sitter when we go away for a few days next week because she doesn’t want to come home to a completely bald kitty.
Some cats, just like people, are more neurotic and prone to emotional and behavioral issues.
If you have ruled out medical conditions like thyroid, food and flea allergies, most likely it is an emotional issue and maybe same kitty Prozac is your next option for the hair loss.
Has she been wormed in recent months, have you taken in a stool sample to rule out Giardia, Coccidiosis and/or toxoplasmosis as reasons for the weight loss?

syz's avatar

Feliway works very well in a minority of cases, and not at all in the majority of cases – depends on the cat and the situation. It certainly won’t hurt to try, but I’m not sure how much of an effect you might get since she goes outside.

What is this over the counter stimulant that you are using? If she’s an outdoor cat and a hunter, there are any number of parasites that she could have, some of which are difficult to identify and diagnose. And keep in mind that some cats that are technically in the “normal” range for thyroid levels can still be symptomatic.

codette's avatar

@Coloma She has been wormed, but I have not taken a stool sample for those 3 things you mentioned. Money is tight so we only tested for the things the vet determined to be most probable. With the next paycheck I think we will try more tests; I’m thinking urine/stool, and a different kind of thyroid test they mentioned.
She used to be so strong and sturdy and plush. I hate seeing her narrow waist, pointy hips, and bare legs. (Perhaps she has fallen victim to the american standard of female beauty? Maybe she needs to stop watching TV.)

Coloma's avatar

@codette I know, sad when you can’t figure out what the problem is.
My old cat who died 2 years ago had thyroid issues and was intolerant of the Methamazole (sp?) commonly used to treat thyroid, I opted out of the $1,200 radioactive iodine treatment to kill his thyroid and he lived for another 18 months but became so thin, and he had a heart murmur on top of that which is what ultimately did him in. :-(

codette's avatar

@syz I’m using Tomlyn Nutri-Stat. My mother swears it’s the only thing that saved Lucy when I was away. Apparently the medication prescribed (antibiotics? not sure) caused stomach irritation, so she refused to eat. Mom dabbed this stuff on her nose to get nutrients in her until her appetite returned. The actual dose is 1.5 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight daily.

She’s definitely a hunter. There’s a new pile of guts on the porch almost daily. Also she’s not from around here so I wonder if it’s possible that she doesn’t have resistance/antibodies to some of the microscopic critters in this environment.

She has been the most sickly girl in the litter (her littermates are still in the family). I wonder if that’s why she chose to be mine as a kitten when her sisters hung out with each other instead.

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