(Bothell, WA USA)
We have noticed our 3 year old cat will start grooming herself whenever we touch her lower back - on her spine. She and our older male cat do not have fleas, and they are both brushed periodically. Hair balls are not an issue, but it does seem like she has dandruff. When touched she wrinkles up her spine and begins to lick parts of her body. She does not have bald patches, but we are concerned about her behavior. She stops grooming when we stop touching her lower body. Is there something we should do other than take her to the Vet?
Alex, there are a number of things you didn't mention such as what you feed your cat. Allergies are actually quite common and are caused by foods, an overreaction to airborne particles such as mold, pollen, and dust mites. The reaction normally produces an itching sensation at various locations on the cats body. So please read my page Allergies in Cats
However, although I will give you a few other possibilities I want to let you know that one of my five cats does the same thing and we kid around by saying..."sorry we touched you and got you soiled" and we watch her cleanse where we have touched her fur...like we got her dirty. She didn't always do this and it started about a year ago. We just dismiss it as her privacy issue that may have started with one of the other cats licking her and leaving saliva on her which she found to be unacceptable. Prior to making this decision, we carefully pulled back her fur and looked to see that there were no blemishes or wheals (like hives), no cuts made by a confrontation with one of our other cats, or a situation of her skin drying out by laying too close to the pellet stove during our NorthWest winter which you are familiar with. (We are in Seattle area). If you have an open fireplace then your cat will be right in front of it. If you have forced air heating your cat will want to hog the heat which can rapidly dry out the top layer of your cat's skin causing those dandruff flakes. If you had been in California or Florida I would have suggested overexposure to the sun which can be a cause of cat dandruff. White cats, and cats with white patches, are especially at risk from the effects of the sun.
If you do see some small wheals (like hives), or a minor rash, there are a few over the counter products that may provide your cat with relief. Dermasol Skin Care Gel for Cats promotes healing of the skin and contains Vitamin A in a patented process to help increase absorption. I buy it (as well as other items) from Entirely Pets because over time I have found their shipping speed to be fast and questions answered within hours. You can also check your local stores such as PETCO.com and enter the medication name into their search box. If this doesn't work for you, let me know. I have tried numerous products over the years for various problems and another one might work for you. Of course, the best advice is always from your veterinarian.
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