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Feral cat with problems.

Species: Cat
Breed: shorthair
Age: 5-8 years
There is a a trio of feral cats that we have been feeding, and over the last few weeks (around 2 months) one has gotten sicker, and started losing its fur. The other two have shown no symptoms.
We recently trapped her and checked her out.

The symptoms are:
Fur loss in big patches, on the neck, head, back, side, shoulders.
Usually either one or both eyes appears covered with mucus
Her skin is dry, flaky, prone to cracking and bleeding.
The exposed skin is dark, but it looks like the skin where there is still fur is lighter color.
She is lethargic.
Her skin hangs loose and her tummy sort of bulges out (we thought at one point she might be pregnant.
We've not noticed her itching and scratching.
We did spring for a skin scrape and she tested negative for mites.
The vet we took her to wanted to do a whole battery of tests that we couldn't afford, and was very cooperative when we refused a bunch of other tests, saying he didn't want to speculate too much, he did say he wanted to to try an antibiotic treatment, because the cracked skin was prone to bleeding and could get infected, but we had a lot of trouble catching her one time, no way we could do it multiple times for a regular treatment. I have taken a few photos with my phone and can try to take more as needed.
Thanks,
Larry


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Larry. I'm just heading out of the office right now and will be back on line this evening. In the meantime if you can send me some photos that would be great! You can email them to photos@askavetquestion.com.

Thanks!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ok, thanks for the photos Larry. I'll include them here:

feral cat skin problem

feral cat skin problem

feral cat skin problem

The poor girl looks very uncomfortable. The first thing that I noted when I saw your pictures is that this is no "normal" skin problem. It doesn't look typical of a bacterial infection or a flea problem. Unfortunately, as your vet suggested, the only way to get a diagnosis here is going to be to do a bunch of tests. But, it is understandable that there is only so much you can do for a feral girl.

I have seen skin look like this after a burn. However, it really shouldn't be itchy.

It's possible this is ringworm, but it doesn't look exactly like ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection. Sometimes it can be treated with baths with lime sulfur, but this is difficult to do on a tame cat yet alone a feral one.

It could also be something called fragile skin syndrome. This is really not common. But when a cat has it it always mean that there is a serious underlying problem like liver disease or diabetes.

Another possibility is an autoimmune disease like pemphigus. This is really hard to control and needs lifelong steroid therapy.

The runny eyes could be a respiratory tract infection. It's possible that she's got a chronic mycoplasma infection. But this is bad news too because it needs chronic treatment with oral antibiotics.

I'm not sure what I would advise for a case like this. I would likely try a long acting steroid injection and also a Convenia injection (which is an antibiotic that lasts for two weeks.) to see how things go.

But, if things are not improving then we may be stuck.

I wish I had more answers for you!

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.