from Modesto takes care of Beemer, a 6-year-old cat that
spends most of his time in the house. Terry works from
home, spending a lot of time with Beemer, and has
noticed over the past couple of weeks that he has
developed some hair loss along his back. His skin in the
area also feels bumpy when Terry pets Beemer. He is
apparently healthy in every other respect with no change
in his appetite or activity and he is as playful as
first thing to determine is whether or not the hair is
falling out or being removed. True hair loss from the
hair follicle is much less common than removal of the
hair by the patient. The potential causes for actual
hair loss are often hormonal and can be difficult to
figure out. I suspect Beemer does not have true hair
good way to determine what’s causing hair loss is to
look at the hair. If on close examination you can find
broken hairs, the hair is not falling out, it is being
chewed or otherwise traumatized. With true hair loss, or
alopecia, we usually see very little, if any, hair in
the area of concern.
am going to assume Beemer has broken hairs and thinning
as a result of self trauma. Support for that comes from
Terry’s description of bumps on Beemer’s skin,
likely scabbing from his chewing.
does not report seeing Beemer chew himself — frankly,
that’s common in these cases. Cats often hide the
behavior until it gets very bad.
Beemer is chewing himself, what Beemer has is military
dermatitis, which is not a diagnosis but a descriptive
term. Why is Beemer chewing himself and causing military
California, the most common cause in cats is allergies.
Since Beemer’s military dermatitis is along his back,
it’s most consistent with an allergy to fleas.
often become defensive when I tell them their companion’s
condition is likely caused by a flea problem. But I look
at it much differently: a flea problem is something to
be glad about, especially when looking at other possible
allergic conditions. Thanks to medications to kill
fleas, a total cure is possible.
cats like Beemer, it can be hard to find fleas on their
bodies because their hyper responsiveness — chewing
and scratching — removes a lot of the invaders.
Treatment still focuses on flea destruction and
prevention and I also treat these cats with
anti-inflammatory medication to stop the allergic
response, bringing much needed relief.
message I want to deliver here is that companions having
fleas is not something to be ashamed of or in denial
about, but instead is something to embrace. We can cure
fleas and prevent them from coming back. That my
friends, is a good thing.