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My cat has had problems with hypersensitivity near the base of his tail. He had fleas for a time, and I thought it was perhaps flea allergy dermatitis. I used Advantix II for large cats (he exceeded the suggested minimum weight requirements) for quite a while, and haven't seen any indication of fleas (flea dirt, etc) in months, but he still has the spot.

His fur there is filled with what looks like flakes of dead skin, and I can tell it bothers him as sometimes he will suddenly try so intensely to lick at it (I assume it itches), that he will spin around on the floor, and has fallen off my desk and bed several times, still spinning about frantically trying to lick at it. It also causes him to seize up to an extent if I accidentally brush it while picking him up or petting him.

Money is very tight, or I would have taken him to a vet some time ago. Any ideas what this might be, and if it's something I can treat myself or will it require vet care?

Further information:

  • He is neutered
  • Around 9 - 10 years old
  • Eats dry food (normally for sensitive stomach or hairball care) and this hasn't changed recently.
  • He is longhaired
  • What kind of food do your cats eat? It may not be flea dermititis it may be a different type of dermititis caused by other allergens, possibly in food or environment – Christy B. Nov 8 '17 at 22:17
  • He eats dry food, usually of the hairball care or sensitive stomach variety as he's had issues in the past and is long-haired. But his food type hasn't changed recently. – Michael Nov 8 '17 at 22:23
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The best way to determine the cause of this problem (and find the most effective treatment) is to see a vet. Your cat is clearly uncomfortable, so if there's any way to get him seen, that is the best option.

Males can get something called stud tail, but he's older and neutered, so it's not likely. I would suspect this if the fur is oily and he has blackheads in addition to the skin flakes. This condition is managed by washing the affected area. If he doesn't have stud tail and you try to wash the area, you're going to cause him extra discomfort, so again, getting a diagnosis from the vet is the best option.

He may also be suffering some type of allergy, especially if something in your household (or his food) has changed. This is hard to diagnose without a vet's involvement because generally you would try to identify the allergy and remove it from his environment. When that's not possible (for example if it's a dust mite allergy), your vet can give him allergy shots. You could try assuming there's a food allergy and buy a limited ingredient food to switch him to. If that's the problem you should see an improvement in 6 weeks, but if his diet hasn't changed recently this seems unlikely to help.

Sometimes a cat can be hypersensitive even after the fleas are gone. When a patch of skin is itchy for a long time, it thickens in response to the scratching and that thickened skin is also itchy. In those cases, a strong itch reliever is used (in cats, a cortisone shot; as a human I was given a cream) to stop the scratching and allow that spot to heal. Additionally, sometimes psychiatric medicines are used in animals (we had a cat who was resistant to cortisone and psychiatric medications; I felt awful for her). Again, all of this would require veterinary care.

Good luck. If you have access to the site's chat (I can't remember the required rep level), you could try posting your location and folks there may have some ideas for low cost access to veterinary care.

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I will add on to Zaralynda's answer:

If he exceeds the requirements for the large dose of Advantix I will assume your cat is obese. We see this often that obese cats cannot clean themselves properly as they are too big to reach which may seem like why he is going crazy trying to groom or itch. Fat cats also build up a lot of dander (flaky skin) and oil because they cannot clean themselves.

Portion Food

If this is the case, portion the amount of food he gets. On average cats require 1/2 cup to 3/4 cups per day divided into multiple small meals (wet food is a must, substitute some dry for wet). Weigh your cat every 2-4 weeks to make sure he is no longer gaining but losing at a slow pace.

Clean and Brush

You will need to help your cat groom in the meantime, some useful products are the furminator for brushing and a dry shampoo to help remove grease and dander. If you can get your hands on DOUXO Seborrhea I highly recommend it, it comes in a shampoo, dry shampoo, spot-on and a spray! By far one of the best products out there for your cats flaky situation.

If you have a long haired cat doing a full shave down (lion cut) will help tremendously.

  • I appreciate the extra information. The large cat variety's minimum weight is for 9 lbs and my boy currently weighs between 11-12. He is quite large in frame though so I am not sure if he would be considered obese or not. Currently he is fed by an automatic feeder twice a day, once in the morning at about 1/4 cup, and again around dinner time at 1/2 cup. I will certainly look into the products you mentioned, though! – Michael Nov 9 '17 at 15:58

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