Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Two Scaredy Cats, One Feline

Warning: if you have anxiety or depression, this post could be triggering.
(But nobody dies, I promise. ;))


At the risk of sounding like one of *those* crazy cat ladies, this here is my baby:


My cat Lily spends all day, every day, within five feet of me - and actually ON me most of the time, since she sleeps in my lap while I work.

(Or plays with my hair in my lap while I attempt to work.)


Lily sits beside me while I eat. She lounges on my treadmill desk while I walk.



She begs to be picked up and carried everywhere in-between, and has even figured out how to balance in my lap while I'm balancing on an exercise ball.

Like I said: my baby.

We got Lily from a rescue when she was a kitten, and for the last 9 years or so she's had no major health issues or behavioral problems.

D'awww.


Her "scrawny" phase lasted about three years.

Then Lily started over-grooming.

That's a pretty common problem with cats, particularly older ones, but for nearly a year now this "common problem" has been a huge challenge. We've been to vet after vet, spent hundreds to possibly thousands of dollars, tried treatment after treatment... all to no avail. In fact, Lily's worse now than ever.

Though you'd never know it to look at her.

Calming supplements like Bach Pet Rescue Remedy have the opposite effect, as does kitty Valium - which leaves her wide-eyed, spastic, and drunkenly uncoordinated - a dangerous combo. The $90 bottle of allergy meds seemed to work for a few months, but then she got a lot worse. The steroids made her more edgy. She couldn't keep the Prozac down at all, and the trauma of trying to force it on her for so many weeks made us both anxious wrecks.

We've changed to expensive hypo-allergenic food. Twice. We've paid for every test the vet can think of. We've tried special swaddling shirts, plug-in pheremones, and increased play therapy. Eventually, when Lily's self-mutilation was leaving bloody streaks down her side and legs, we resorted to inflatable cones and baby onesies.

 

Here she is about 10 minutes after trying on her first onesie:

Needless to say, she's taken to it surprisingly well.


To be fair, most of the time Lily is an incredibly happy cat. She runs, plays, and purrs like the Enterprise bridge when she gets chin scratches or a warm lap.

Where there's a will, there is play.


One of her favorite games: catch the tail:


Sometimes she'd go for up to a week without any issues, only to relapse in the space of an hour by chewing through an old sore patch or starting a new one.

But lately, as we've stepped up our efforts to get her one bad spot on her side to heal completely, things have gotten worse. We've kept her in a new onesie full-time the last few days, which seems to be much less traumatic than the cone, but it still frustrates her grooming urge:

Granted, she doesn't look terribly frustrated when napping on my arm.

Today I woke up to find my furry baby - in her admittedly adorable baby onesie - licking & chewing her arms like a cat possessed. The onesie sleeves were already soaked through, and nothing I did could distract her for more than a few seconds. She's miserable. I'm miserable. And all these months of worry and hope and fretting and just holding her little body close and praying for something - something - to finally work came crashing down, and in a moment of blind, grief-soaked rage, I found myself screaming at her to stop, STOP HURTING YOURSELF, JUST STOP! and WHY CAN'T I FIX THIS?!

(If you're wondering: I'm pretty sure that didn't help.)

Then I had a good cry.

Then I started writing this post.

Everyone who meets Lily says she's the calmest, happiest cat they've ever seen, but inside, she's a little broken. She's anxious for no reason. She gets stuck in these mental ruts that she can't get out of, even though they're making her hurt herself.

And I realized, after I yelled myself hoarse, and as I struggled to accept that I can't make everything right, no matter how hard I try - I realized: Lily is my baby. She's just like me. We're both a little broken. We both get anxious for no reason, even though people say we shouldn't, or don't seem it, and neither of us can just stop because it's hurting us. (Also, we both kind of hate it when I have to leave the house. Heh.)

There's no happy ending to this post, though. That realization doesn't make it better. But it did remind me that love is messy, and caring for someone you love - even someone as "insignificant" as your cat - can be extra messy. (For the record: I have no idea how you parents do it. None.)

So I'm going to put Lily in a fresh onesie and brush out her fur, and I'm going to finish this latest round of steroids, and then we're going back to the vet for another form of Prozac, and we're going to keep trying. As long as she can still purr, and as long as her happy moments outweigh the bad ones - and as long as we have each other to hang onto through them - we're going to keep trying.

I can't tell her that, in so many words, so I'm telling all of you.


Lily's in my lap right now, and as I was trying to figure out how to end this post she started purring and kneading my arm. Here, I'll take a picture:

Ok, so maybe she does know.


Here's to messy love, my friends.
 

248 comments:

  1. Reading this made me cry, it make me smile, and mostly it gave me hope. To realize that I can't fix everything. I recently started going to a counselor for stuff. And i am realizing my little codependent self cant save the world. Its not my job. It makes relationships messy when I stand up and say "i can't and wont keep doing this" its a shock to the system to see a girl who has been doing everything with a smile say "i am broken". Sometimes I think we are all broken, and we just don't always realize it. That's why i read this blog. it gives me hope. Lots of hope. Keep lovin that cutie kitty you rock Jen!

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    1. Thats a great thing to realise Nancy, its a huge step on the road to being healthy balanced and independent.

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  2. Aw, poor baby Lily! My kitty used to do the same thing though not to that extreme. It got a LOT better once I started feeding her wet food. I wonder if a lion cut would help? Maybe it would make her feel better if you could do kitty massage with some kind of safe lotion? (Ack, I'm dispensing advice on the internet without an invitation! But I have a lot to say about cats!) and thank you sincerely for the warning- I would have panicked halfway through this if not for "nobody dies".

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  3. My gray tabby, Mouse, had a similar problem: he scratched himself around the neck until he had big wounds that could never heal. He'd be bleeding and whining in pain and still scratching at the same spots. We ended up having to get his rear claws removed. In general, I am anti-declawing, but in this case, it was necessary to save him from himself. Seven years later, he's a happy boy. He adapted to not having rear claws remarkably well (it helps that he's and indoor only kitty). The wounds around his neck healed, although they are bald.

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  4. That's what being a good Mum feels like. It's terrifying and gratifying and never in equal doses. You can only do your best. Rock on.

    Judith in Ottawa

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  5. First things first - your Lily is adorable, precious and perfect :-) While I don't have experience with the level of overgrooming you're experiencing with her, a couple of things came to mind that I didn't see mentioned in your post. Have you tried adding a probiotic to her diet? (The rescue shelter I adopted my two kitties from sent me home with some, and I've never stopped using it. You can get it from your vet or from Amazon. I use Purina Fortiflora; it's a powder you sprinkle on their food. I use about half of a packet a day for my two cats.) Second, I've heard amazing things about acupuncture for cats - not specifically for overgrooming, but for so many things that I myself would readily consider it for my own cats. Lots of love and gentle internet hugs for you and Lily!!

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    1. I have no opinion about probiotics, but I just read this about acupuncture and want to warn folks away from it (we have a dog; this seems equally applicable to cats): http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/05/alternative_medicine_for_pets_veterinarians_should_not_perform_acupuncture.html

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    2. Oooh, probiotics are something we HAVEN'T tried! And they're doing wonders for me, so it makes sense they'd help pets, too. I'll definitely be looking this up. Thanks!

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    3. I wonder if that would work for my cat as well. He also overgrooms. Never to the point of drawing blood, but he hasn't had fur on his belly for years. And recently he's started doing his legs as well.

      He almost seems obsessive compulsive, like he has to keep his belly bald. Otherwise he is a totally normal, huge cat.

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    4. We add probiotics to the food for our dog who itches and bites and chews herself excessively despite multiple med courses and different foods. They seem to help a bit.

      I wish you lots of luck. <3

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  6. I'm so sorry you and Lily are struggling through this, but oh is she ever lucky to have you for her human. I wish a speedy recovery for her and I applaud how willing you are to take such good care of her. You are both lucky. And she is beautiful, make sure you tell her I said so!

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  7. It may be cliche, but there is no love like the kind we share with our cats. My Helios has been with me through 7 years of change, challenge, depression and recovery. His nickname has become "Buddy" for how friendly he is and how he always seems to know when we need his affection. I'm so glad you have Lily to help teach you about yourself. Best of luck finding the right solution for her anxiety.

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  8. My friend's cat did the exact same thing. They were using a super clumping litter from PetCo Once they switched to Tidy Cats, she stopped over-grooming almost immediately. It might be worth a shot.

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  9. Oh, sweeties. I'm the human companion to three cats (down from six, aka "The Crazy Cat Lady Starter-kit"). One of my darlings is an anxious girl like your Lily, though not as extreme. We've done the testing, too. All I can say is I feel your pain and frustration, and can only send you lots of love and hugs. It wasn't a shock to me that Lily is manifesting symptoms that are a little similar to what you're experiencing. I don't think it's an accident that Lily found you or you her. Sometimes, it takes someone who's got some challenges to understand the challenges of her furred companions, and vice versa. Hang in there. xoxo

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  10. Since she sits on you so often, I'm wondering if it might be something you've changed for you that she's allergic to. New laundry detergent, maybe? Some kind of lotion? Changed the carpet? Does Benadryl soothe her at all? I have all sorts of skin sensitivities, can't wear wool, etc, and would assume that some animals might have the same problem.

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    1. We've wondered the same thing, trying to find any environmental changes. So far we haven't found any, but it could be something so small I'm overlooking it. :/ (Never tried Benadryl - do they have a special pet formula of it? I can ask the vet when we go in later today or tomorrow.)

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    2. Our dog has needed benadryl in the past for skin allergies and over grooming due to separation anxiety. We never had to buy anything special for him, just the regular OTC 25mg benadryl, however dosing might be different for cats. We have also used probiotics and they seem to help somewhat and definitely have helped to settle his stomach, which is easily upset. I read this post about your cat, and I laughed and cried, because I have felt the same anxiety, frustration, anger and most of all love for our dog. I am so grateful to have him as a part of our family, and I feel so much pain for his anxiety and the skin issues it causes. I also feel lucky that he has found a family that will not give up on him until there are no options left. We are his third owners (he comes from a rescue), and despite his issues, he is the sweetest and most loving little guy who has added so much to our lives. I too have suffered with anxiety in the past (thankfully I have had no major issues in past few years save for times when I have to fly) and I truly believe that it is no accident that these "broken" animals often end up with people who can relate to their problems and ultimately won't give up on them. I send love and strong thoughts to you and your litlle Lily. Hopefully you will be able to find something that can help abate her symptoms!

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    3. My angora (who looked very much like Lily but all white!) had the exact same issue and it ended up being an allergen within the house (we are assuming it was the carpet as the new house did not have carpet and it cleared up quickly).

      While we were at that house though, our vet told us to try benadryl and since he was a big boy (20 lbs) we used 25mg pill with a pillpopper to make it easier to give him. I am not a vet, but just letting you know what worked for my cat.

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    4. Jen, you can use Benadryl (I used Children's Benedryl and a very small does, but did wonders for my allergic cat) but - of course - get proper dosage for Lily. And as far as environmental goes, cats can be allergic to pollen and all sorts of stuff, just like people, so maybe it's something like that triggering it. For my cats I *finally* (took a very long time) narrowed it down to preservatives in their food and treats. Finally got them preservative free and everything cleared up. But wow ... did that take a long time! And for the record, it took a bit for them to have a reaction so let's say I fed them a bland diet of just boiled chicken for a while and then put them back on their (crazy expensive) cat food. It would take a solid week or two before it built up enough in their system to cause them to have a reaction so something from a week or two ago can cause today's reaction. Makes it extra hard to track down a cause. :( Thinking of you three!

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  11. We ran into this problem with a cat of our own. I've noticed it tends to happen with long haired cats more often. Not sure why. We ended up doing little shirts for her. Neosporin (without painkiller) helped. Children's Benadryl is safe for cats and tends to relax them. You'd want to consult your vet about dosage. We never tried Prozac for her but I did notice that when we kept her active and I gave her itchy spots a little extra attention she didn't go after them as much on her own.
    I'm glad Lily has you. And you have her. Those eyes!

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  12. Wow I'm having this exact problem with my baby boy. I thought it was the dry food. He used to be an outside cat and ate a lot of "protein in the natural". For the last year or so he's been developing the same itchy crazies that you all have talked about. And yes, I did switch from Tidy Cat to Fresh Step about that same time. Maybe it's time to switch back and see if that helps. Good luck and best wishes to all.

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  13. Jen, I can relate.
    I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which means I worry about EVERYTHING. And I just had a baby 2 weeks ago. I worry about my baby so much it hurts. I worry about the color and consistency of his poop (my google searches are getting really, REALLY weird), how much he's eating (he's eating just fine and has gained a pound in 2 weeks), if he may die in his sleep of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (that's the scariest one because there's no prevention, just risk reduction), that he may suffocate when he's laying between my husband and I because we're bigger and are using all of the oxygen (my husband looked at my like I had grown a second head when I said that one out loud; I don't blame him, either), and a million other things.
    I think part of being a mom, whether to a human or to an animal, is to worry. And our anxiety disorders totally don't help. But I also think it's important to know that it's totally natural to worry, especially when something isn't quite right. And now, if you'll excuse me, my baby is crying.

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  14. This is going to sound weird and unpractical and weird. Since she tolerates the onesie, what if she wore something similar with fur on it? It'd have to be lightweight so she wouldn't roast, and nontoxic, and maybe the fur just securely sewed on to the onside in the area she overgrooms? She could 'groom' the faux Lily-fur, without hurting herself.
    Like I said, impractical. What brought it to mind was a charity I read about that collects old, real furs to be used as comfort items for animals.
    Your Lily is a sweetie, and she is so lucky to have you. I wish you both the best!

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    1. Equally weird? I HAD THE EXACT SAME THOUGHT. Ha! This is why I love this forum; you guys think like I do. :D

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    2. No!!!!

      the synthetic fur will give her hairballs from hell! it's not at all digestible! ( you might consider buying her a sheepskin or rabbit fur toy to love on, though. perhaps if she has a "kitten" to love, she can transfer some of that anxious energy to grooming it!)

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  15. I just want to send you some love and prayers. I can understand, to a degree of course, some of what you are going through--anxiety and a sick furbaby. I know the desire to do anything you can for your furbaby and how scary it is when they are sick. I hope that both of you find health and peace.

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    1. And, by the way, she is adorable :)

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  16. Hugs to you both!

    I've been at that point too, when something's wrong with your furbaby and you're frustrated and nothing seems to be working for either of you. My baby is 16, born on my family farm and has been there through high school, college, grad school, two crap apartments and a house. Sick as a kitten, I nursed him on formula and pedialyte, weaned him, and he's as close to a child as I'll have.

    But he's 16 and has kidney disease, and it's showing. He's lost weight and muscle, sometimes overgrooms too. Regular brushing and better food seems to take care of most of it, along with occasional flea baths (I let him into the screened patio). Otherwise, he tucks me into bed every night, wakes me up every morning, and is the first one to chew me out when I don't get home on time. And when he sits in my lap, he shoves his head in my boobs and rumbles like the world doesn't exist (typical guy). I wouldn't trade him for the world.

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  17. I feel your pain. My dog has separation anxiety, and he's been to an animal behaviorist and tried numerous drugs. We've been able to reduce the anxiety and manage, but he's far from cured. I worry about what might happen if he ever starts to act up, because I was running out of options. While some of the above suggestions might be helpful or unique, I won't offer any new ones because I know it frustrated me a little to hear people suggest everything that I had already tried. So, just know that you're not alone.

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  18. You know, my kitty was doing that just to the point of a few bald patches. Reading the comments, I wonder if the combination of new litter(clumping and unscented, and switching to an uncovered box) and starting him on some wet food to supplement his dry food are what made the difference? That, and a new scratching post he likes better than the old one are the only changes I've made, and he's improving. He's a rotten boy who cuddles,purrs, and bites out of the blue, but I love him.
    You are doing everything you can for her, and she is obviously loved and happy-you can see that from the photos. And she rocks that onesie.

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  19. It is so difficult to watch a furry baby struggle with issues, it's so frustrating because they cannot talk to tell you what's wrong. We have had a lot of problems with our cat, too (overgrooming and bladder issues that are all related to stress and anxiety). We have come to the conclusion that we have to watch out for the signs and take preventive action. The doctors have concluded that he just has anxiety issues that no one understands.
    Have you tried a feline behaviorist? It was expensive, but it was the absolute best thing we've ever done. It didn't solve our problem, but it helped us think like a cat. The last time the doctor suggested Zylkene, and it was amazing and got us through his last anxiety attack with little trouble.
    I am so glad that Lily has you! So many kitties that develop problems aren't understood by humans and don't always end up with someone to fret and help make them comfortable.

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  20. I had a similar problem with my Staffi Terrior - always licking and chewing on her paws to the point where she could no longer walk without limping. I found the only thing that would work was prednisolone (which the vet did prescribe), but again, it only brought temporary relief and once she stopped taking it, she was back to old habits within a few weeks.

    And I love Lily's eyes - such a beautiful shade of blue!

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    1. Smerk, your staffi might have a food allergy to grain and/or chicken. If you can, switch to a non-grain food (I use Dick VanPatten's Natural Balance foods. My Cocker has a grain allergy and had ear infections CONSTANTLY. I switched to this food and they have many non-chicken foods (legume and duck, venison and sweet potato, etc.) Try it for a few weeks and see if it works. It's expensive food, but beats visits to the vet.

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    2. We have the same problem with our dog. We switched to a grain-free food and he has improved. I learned to check the ingredients though, just because it says it's bison or lamb or whatever kind doesn't mean they don't have poultry hiding in there somewhere. We just switched again to one with no egg products also and it seems to be helping.

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  21. Aw, what a beautiful kitty she is.

    In case you haven't already tried Prozac in this form... One of our cats is on Prozac/fluoxetine. We have 10 mg capsules. We open the capsules, dump the powder into a syringe, and add 35 mL of water. The fluoxetine dissolves/suspends in the water. Refrigerate after mixing, and dosage is 5 mL per day (so the 35 mL lasts for a week). We drizzle this on her dry kibble, and it doesn't seem to affect the taste any. She's fairly picky but doesn't mind this at all. It's made a huge difference in her anxiety levels, and we were even able to reduce her dosage recently.

    We've also had overgrooming problems with a couple of our cats. The vet attributed this to allergies and gave them shots of massive doses of some kind of anti-allergy medication (not sure what kind). It wasn't a complete cure, but it seemed to help. What fixed the problem in the end was moving to a different house, but I can't really recommend that to you as a solution.

    I hope your kitty gets better soon.

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    1. The liquid Fluoxetine was the stuff she couldn't keep down (she'd immediately throw it up), but we're hoping that was because the vet flavored it, and maybe just the taste disagreed with her. Next we'll try a pill or chew or even just the unflavored liquid, depending on what the vet recommends. Fingers crossed!

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  22. I'm so sorry you are going through this. It is frustrating when our pets can't tell us what's wrong (although people often have that same problem too!) I have two dogs and they both tend to groom themselves like cats - thankfully, it hasn't been a real issue yet but it is pretty annoying when your dog can't stop licking him/herself and you are trying to sleep ;) My smallest dog also has big anxiety issues. You've never seen someone so stubborn when we are leaving. She won't move, even if you push her a little, she holds her spot as if that will make you stay. Then she begins shaking. Unfortunately, we don't have the money to do much for her right now other than give her love, but it breaks my heart every time she starts shaking. It doesn't stop me from leaving, but it does make me worry about her when I'm gone.

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    1. Awwwww, poor little guy! You might try a Thunder Shirt when you have to leave; it's like a swaddle that can help with pet anxiety. Lily seems to like hers (it's the gray one in my pics), although it didn't stop her over-grooming. They make dog sizes, too, and cost about $30, so it's a fairly cheap option that can't hurt to try.

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    2. I agree with Jen that a thunder shirt can definitely help anxiety, and it is a really affordable option (they have a money back garuntee too, so if you see it isn't helping you can take it back). Have you crate trained your dog? Our shih tzu rescue has terrible separation anxiety that has led to issues with over grooming and skin issues, he also has allergies and food sensitivities. We have used a thunder shirt with good success, and we crate him when we leave the house. It is the only way that he can be without us and stay calm. I am lucky that I am able to go home and let him out at lunch, otherwise we wouldn't do it since it is cruel to leave them in there for the whole day, but it might help if you are only going to be gone for a few hours. Crates are also not a huge financial investment, and since dogs are den animals, most of them are easy to crate train and will actually enjoy being in there (for reasonable ammounts of time obviously).

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  23. Lots of love and good wishes to your famiky while you work through this!

    And that is one ADORABLE fuzzbutt of a furkid!

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  24. Last May we moved to a new apartment and suddenly one of my cats became anorexic. We've spent the past twelve months (and about $14,000) trying to get this cat, who was always an overweight food hound, to start eating again. She has had surgery twice. Three ultrasounds. 4 months with a feeding tube. Two abscesses BECAUSE of the tube. Four courses of antibiotics. Eleven solid months on nausea medication. Six or so on appetite stimulants. For a while almost everything we tried made her worse. We have torn through two clinics worth of specialists and spent MANY late nights at the ER vet. The list is never ending... And SO many people have told me that I shouldn't be bothering with all this.
    But when she curls up with me and purrs at top volume? When she wakes me up at 4am because she's hungry and wants to be petted? I wouldn't have it any other way.

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    1. Holy moly, what a nightmare! And you know what? I'd go through it all for Lily, too. Right there with ya, my friend. (And hugs to your little one.)

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    2. I have one cat who is actually brain damaged. She has bonded with my husband the way lily bonded to you. She is so sweet, and she does the cutest things like sit in front of his keyboard while he is typing and kneeds on his belly (its funny) But she is so stupid. She gets lost room to room in the house, has nightmares that she will wake up crying from, and she LOVES to eat hair stretchies. Both of us have long hair, so we have had to cat proof the house because of this. She has had 2 surgeries to remove hair stretchies that blocked her intestines, and another scope down her throat to pull out the necklace cord she ate off my husband while he slept. And people have asked why we spend so much, but we love her, and how could we not? Our animals are our babies, and they don't understand what is wrong, so there is no way i would ever give up on them. Just keep loving your kitty, you'll get through it.

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  25. Jen, I can understand what you are going through. We have three dogs with special medical/behavioral issues. Two of them have anxiety issues so severe that we had to get the help of a very expensive board-certified doggie psychiatrist. One was rescued from a war zone in Beirut and she had something explode in her face that scarred both corneas and caused one of her retinas to detach. She has a seizure disorder that causes her to attack her back legs. She also has severe panic attacks occasionally that cause her to bark for up to eight hours at a time and she is absolutely frantic and inconsolable during that time. Xanax helps a little, and we have tried everything else. The other anxious dog was abandoned by his past owners and left in an empty house to die when they moved away. His separation anxiety is so bad that he was adopted and returned to the shelter SIX TIMES while I was volunteering there because he is so destructive because he absolutely panics when he is left alone. We were his last hope because we made the commitment to give him the care he needs, no matter what. Our plans now include sitters and doggie daycare whenever we want to go ANYWHERE, even for a short errand. He has injured himself trying to escape from a crate with a family who tried to adopt him..He also has OCD behaviors. Why is all of this significant? Well, I too suffer from anxiety and I KNOW what it feels like to be overcome with irrational feelings of terror. That might be why we are drawn to animals with these types of issues. It's because we understand and will love them and care for them when others would not. I'm glad that your kitty has such a caring, empathetic mom!

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  26. Oh, poor Lily! Our furbaby troubles have involved more in the way of respiratory problems (our baby boy came home from the shelter with what turned out to be a collapsed lung and pneumonia, his sister had pneumonia, and the older cat we already had started having breathing troubles a few weeks later that turned out to be cancer and not the pneumonia, which was absolutely awful). It's no fun trying to figure out what is wrong and what to do about it, especially when your baby is suffering in the meantime. I hope you find something that makes Lily more comfortable soon!

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  27. Lily is so blessed to have you as a Mommy! I hope you both get some relief.
    For the record, this sums up how we parents do it...
    "So I'm going to put Lily in a fresh onesie and brush out her fur, and I'm going to finish this latest round of steroids, and then we're going back to the vet for another form of Prozac, and we're going to keep trying. As long as she can still purr, and as long as her happy moments outweigh the bad ones - and as long as we have each other to hang onto through them - we're going to keep trying."
    You just keep trying. Hang in there!

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  28. Awww, Jen! :-( Poor Lily and poor Lily-parents. I was wondering how she was doing lately. I really hope some new reader will suggest some odd little inexpensive thing that you haven't tried yet and that will wind up being a miraculous cure for her.

    It has to be SO frustrating and disheartening, but you're right, all you can do is keep trying.

    All the best wishes for a quick and thorough recovery for Lily.

    Hugs,
    KW

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  29. This seriously made me tear up. I hope the very best for you and your kitty-baby.

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  30. Lily is bee-u-ti-ful. Those gorgeous blue eyes and that coloration...

    I can offer my deepest sympathy. I have a baby of my own (a lovely corgi/blue heeler mix), but the problem lies with me. I have trichotillomania and dermatillomania (co-morbid to various other disorders), and despite years and years of excellent therapy and even more years of medication, I cannot explain why. Or figure out how to stop.

    I suppose what I'm saying (briefly) is that even though I possess the words to express what my disorders are, how they affect me, and why some of them have come about, the big picture often eludes me. And I'm talking to myself here, negating the need for a translator from feline to primate.

    I hope Lily's health improves. This situation is certainly not an easy one, and I hope a resolution will present itself sooner rather than later.

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    1. That's terrible, I have both trichotillomania and dermatillomania too and they're a nightmare. I have a couple of tactics for the trich, though they're not reliable, but the derma I just find impossible. Knowing why I have them hasn't made much difference for me, though having an explanation satisfies my curiosity, I guess. I hope you're doing ok otherwise.

      Jen, I know this probably isn't as helpful as the suggestions from other people as it likely won't get to the root cause, but have you tried cutting Lily's fur right back to a fuzz (about 1/4 inch long)? People I've known with semi-longhaired and longhaired cats have found them quite uptight without giving them a serious haircut, possibly because they're kept in warm houses when their fur would probably allow them to survive tundra. They do seem to struggle with slight overheating. I know it's an outside chance with Lily because she's been ok up until now, which the ones I've known haven't been, but if there's another problem, like an allergy, it could help alleviate the symptoms a little.

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    2. Hmm. We haven't tried trimming her fur, no, since I figured the longer hair might be protecting her skin more, & shorter fur could mean more abrasions. I know her side patch - which she won't leave alone - has almost no fur on it, so it only takes a few minutes for her to go through the skin there. :/ I'm open to trimming her, though, so I'll keep it in mind!

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    3. Oh the poor darling. If only they could tell us what they need.

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  31. Hey Jen,
    Have you tried taking Lily to a holistic vet? I've had many good experiences taking my guys to one. Also, I'm not sure which allergin free diets you've tried but a lot of the big brand "prescription" diets are so full of fillers that they might not be a help. I give my guy who overgrooms (admittedly not as bad as Lily) Nature's Variety limited ingredient diet in rabbit and that really cleared him up.

    I've been reading a lot about detox diets/cleanses (for myself) and I wonder if there's an equivalent for cats... :)

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  32. This happened once to our cat. We were away for a couple of days, with a neighbor caring for the cat. The cat was let inside the house in the evening (he spends time both indoors and outdoors). We came home the next morning. When we got home, there were blood stains all over the floors in the hallway leeeding into the house as well as the kitchen. We found the cat in the kitchen,blood all over. He had scratched his cheek for so long that he had actually scratched a hole right through and his teeth were visible. We cried, cuddled him and went to the vet to sew him up etc. He hasn't done it since. Could have been some kind of protest action on his part, but we have been away both Before and since the event, and he has never done anything like it. Sometimes you just wish they could tell you what's wrong.

    I can also mention that we are now only serving him wet food, which has improved him a lot, having major sneeze attacks and itchings in the past,

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    1. Holy kittens, you just described every pet owner's nightmare! Glad to hear he hasn't done it again! (I think I'll be researching the hypoallergenic wet foods, since she's still on the dry ones right now.)

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    2. Try looking into a raw diet as well. There are a lot of pre-made frozen varieties that cost about the same as wet. I've heard a lot of accounts of different allergy problems being fixed with the switch to raw. We didn't have anything like what you're experiencing with lily, but one cat with severe diarrhea that it helped.

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  33. I teared up a little reading this post. I, too, have anxiety issues that people think are 'silly'. I get panic attacks in supermarkets and in the face of confrontation (even if I'm not directly involved - just being in the proximity of an argument sets me off) and leaving the house on my own to go further than the corner shop or my office at work makes me prevaricate. It's very stressful on my partner as if I need to go somewhere he has to come with me. I used to be a confident, independent woman until I suffered a bit a of a breakdown as a result of workplace bullying which was compounded by the death of my Grandmother, the subsequent discovery of my Aunt's fraud and abuse of her and then the death of my beloved Cat, Truffie. Truffie was a bit broken too. We got her from a rescue charity. She and her siblings had been dumped on the charity by (presumably) their mothers owner and he claimed they were 6 weeks old. Our Vet said she'd be surprised if they were more than 4. She was a very sick kitten and the vets suggested euthanasing her a couple of times but we didn't give up. All her problems were digestive because she hadn't fully developed the right gut flora. So of course her weight was dangerously low. In the end, out of desperation, we tried mixing bio yoghurt in with her food - EUREKA. She turned a corner almost overnight and came on in leaps and bounds. She was a happy, much loved cat but prone to her share of drama - she misjudged a jump once and fell out of a 2nd storey window - luckily no bones broken. She went missing for a week and returned thin and sick. We nursed her back to health. Having had such a rough start in life and little time with her mother to learn proper cat behaviour, Truffie was always a little bit special. Eventually, when she was around 11 she started having weird sorts of seizures - she'd be lying somewhere asleep, then out of nowhere she'd lurch upright, stagger about then flop down, catatonic. The vet suggested that she might be experiencing mini strokes - similar, incidently, to the condition my Grandmother suffered. As time went on these got worse and worse and we tried all sorts of medication. In the end a monthly steroid injection seemed to do the trick. It seemed to be a phase because after a while the time between 'attacks' increased. In the end though, age took its toll and the attacks returned. She'd become distressed and walk in circles crying. My beautiful baby was going downhill but I never gave up on her. After an 'attack' she'd be totally normal again (apart from having gone mostly blind). When she messed herself during these attacks I would tenderly bathe her and hold her in my arms for hours as she slept it off. In the end, though, her quality of life declined to the point that we started to consider having her put to sleep but before we could make that terrible decision nature took its course and she passed away. I miss her every day and just writing this post made me cry (at work no less). I urge you not to give up on your fur baby. I know it hurts and I know it's hard but it's worth every tear.

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    1. You just made me get all teary at work, too. Good thing there's only Lily here to see. ;)

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  34. Khalysta from THE VersaillesMay 8, 2014 at 5:15 AM

    I don't have much to say except that I understand both your anxiety and your feeling of helplessness.
    Being a parent (to a human or not) is a challenge: there is no school for that, you just learn on the go.
    And because kids give back to you more that you think you give them, you learn to cope. Sometimes, you go someplace alone and you have a good cry, then you put on a brave face and you go on. As you have done with Lily.
    Oh, I forgot : she has the most beautiful cat's eyes I have even seen : so blue !!! like sapphires...

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  35. Hi Jen, don't know if you'd be open to this, but you could try a phone appointment with Dawn (here's her URL - http://dawnallen.org/). She's an animal communicator. I'll be honest that I was doubtful the first time I spoke with her. But, she asked me for no information about my animals and was able to tell me that my cat Maggie asked that I never put the medicine in her eyes again like I had the previous spring because it made them hurt. After my shock, I was able to tell Dawn that Maggie had an eye ulcer at that time and I was putting antiviral drops in her eyes to treat the problem.

    All of that said, I commend you for doing whatever you can to help her be a little more comfortable. My cats are my babies as well. Maggie is my little PTSD kitty and also has her share of anxiety issues. She also had problems with over-grooming. In her case, I suspect it was related to the fact that she was becoming hyperthyroid. Now that her condition is more controlled (and she gets some extra food), she's doing better. She's still grooming a little too much, but not enough to hurt herself.

    Good luck!

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  36. I second the suggestion for acupuncture and would add also homeopathy. Perhaps a holistic vet that combines both is the key to your furkid's issues? The animal communicator is a good idea too. Can't hurt to try, right?

    I had an issue of overgrooming with the late Angelus Kitty, but I corrected it with onesies, like you're doing. (I ended up saving the onesies for surgeries and such).

    Many hugs to you and pets, love and light to Lily (she's so pretty!) Good luck! xoxo

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  37. Jen, I have no words to say, except "keep trying". Lily is beautiful. So are you.

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  38. Yes you do know how we parents do it because you are a parent. Just because your baby is furry doesn't make her any less your baby.

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  40. Hi Jen,

    I wrote a long comment that I think got eaten...Anyway, the gist of it is: maybe you could look into switching to a raw meat diet for your cats (includes raw meat, raw bones, and raw organs). We did this for the last year of our dog's life and her quality of life was so improved; she also had a skin disorder that cleared up when we made the change (though admittedly it was not as severe as Lily's). Our dog died last year at age 14, and up until the very last, she loved her new diet and the good health it brought her.

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    1. I was going to suggest this too. My cat definitely got worse with the overgrooming when we moved somewhere that I couldn't get his old raw food. I feel for you--it's incredibly tough to keep trying when nothing seems to work. Keep looking at those lovely blue eyes.

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    2. I was also going to suggest this. When my Siamese was younger, he started over-grooming to the point that he had huge sores down his chest. I had him in a bandanna and a cone, trips and trips to the vet and we eventually decided to try removing items from his food. Turns out he has a grain allergy. He's been on a raw, grain-free diet for over 10 years (he's 14 now), and while he's still my neurotic boy, he doesn't over-groom. I think it's worth a try to see if your cat will eat a raw, grain-free diet, and if it works.

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    3. Jen, for the love of God and Lily, put this cat on raw food!!! If you haven't tried that yet, your vet has no business prescribing anti-depressants. How irresponsible of him/her!

      Last time you posted about Lily's over-grooming I (along with not a few others) mentioned Nature's Variety Raw food. Petco has started carrying it. Please, please, please give it a go.

      Let us know how much better Lily is doing when she's been an raw food for a few days, k?

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    4. I agree re the raw diet. My foster cat, a Persian named Harry Fluffowitz, came from a kill shelter in North Carolina, where he came in as a stray. By the time he was transported to me, he had every skin problem known to the cat world: flea allergies, food allergies, and ringworm. I transitioned him from a grain-free canned food to ground chicken by Feline's Pride. The itchy bumps he had persisted, so switched him to whole ground raw rabbit, from HareToday.com, which I mixed with Feline's Pride supplement powder. I did not add egg yolks because I thought he may be allergic to eggs in addition to chicken.

      FINALLY, the rabbit agreed with him, and I just waited until I found him adopters who agreed to feed him the HareToday rabbit, which happens to be cheaper than Feline's Pride and the high-end, grain-free canned foods. I had also medicated him for ringworm, and that went away, and the raw food really seemed to fortify him overall and enabled his body to heal, to put on weight, and start looking and feeling like a normal Persian cat.

      As his fur grew back in, he turned out to be a stunning, smoke Persian, absolutely gorgeous, with bright yellow eyes. PLEASE try the raw diet. It really could be the simple solution that makes all this go away.

      P.S. On raw diet, the kitty's poop does not smell...because they metabolize the food so well. It's a side benefit that often gets overlooked, but it is really wonderful.



      Fluffowitz's skin cleared up beautifully, and as his lion cut

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    5. I 100% agree about the raw diet for cats! All of my dogs and cats are on raw and they are doing amazingly, plus there is no litter box smell! Personally I like Rad Cat and Stella and Chewy's the best!

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  41. Lily may be anxious but one look at that cat says she also knows she is deeply deeply loved. I'll keep fingers and toes crossed that you BOTH find the answers you need and deserve. {{{}}}

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  42. One of my baby has had similar issues, albeit milder. I'm sure you guys have run blood work, but on the minuscule chance that this wasn't checked, for my cat it was a thyroid issue. He's on meds and it's worked, his belly fur is slowly coming back. I hope Lily feels better and so do you. Good luck.

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  43. I totally understand this, and I sympathize.

    A resource: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/behavioral-medications-cats

    My sister has 2 dogs who are extremely anxious, and the drug that worked well for them (Clomipramine) became unavailable, and very expensive when some could be found ($800/month). So the doctor put them on Prozac, and that went very badly. One of the dogs started absolutely destroying her house - chewing through door frames and windows, and attacking the other dog. So they stopped that.

    My mother, who is a pharmacist, found the article above (well, the one for dogs) and argued with the vet until he agreed to prescribe something off the list similar to the drug that had become unavailable. It's helping enormously. tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) aren't used in people much anymore, but in pets, they can be quite effective, and you can start with a lower dose and then raise it if needed. I'd suggest going armed with this article and seeing if they can try one of the TCAs on her instead, since you said Valium and Prozac didn't go well. Those are in other drug classes, as you'll see in the article. I really think a TCA might help Lily out - worth trying!

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  44. She's lovely and I am glad you have each other. I'm glad you've found solutions that mostly work. At the moment I have a foster cat who is the snuggliest little thing, with a hole in her purr bucket, unless something has set off her allergies (and blood tests and food alterations have found things that reduce the incidence, but not eliminate it), in which case she becomes short tempered and prone to hissing and swatting, and will claw her ears bloody until the episode subsides. Poor girl. She's probably a permanent resident, since the medical + behavioral issues render her unlikely to find an adoptive home. I love her to bits and she is a wonderful cat, and while I wish I could fix everything for her, I don't love her any less for who she is, troubles and all.

    Anyway. I don't have much useful advice to give, and I know that a lot of the times, the helpful responses can feel frustrating when you've already spent so much time and energy on the problem. However, I did want to mention, in case it's of any use, that when one of my cats had a series of traumas that lead to a meltdown that lead to peeing issues, and forcing prozac down her throat was surprisingly unhelpful in reducing her anxiety, my vet had the prescription sent to a compounding pharmacy that could make the prozac into a transdermal medication. Rubbing it into her ears once a day was a lot easier on both of us. After a few months of medication and other alterations, she was feeling less stressed and could be weaned off the meds. So if you think the prozac helped, but the delivery method was the failure point, your vet might be able to do what mine did.

    You know your girl best, so I'm sure you're doing everything that you can for her, and that your decisions are guided by love and compassion. Whatever you do will be fine. We are none of us perfect or all-powerful, and we muddle through as best we can.

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  45. As a cat person myself, I totally feel your pain! I hope you can find a solution soon.

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  46. Messy love, that's at the heart of what this human experience is all about, I think. Thanks for describing it so well. Lily is beautiful, I hope that it gets better soon. Nevertheless, I had no idea a cat in a onesie could be so cute.

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  47. Awww {{{{hugs}}}} to you both. How frustrating!

    Have you ever heard of Dinovite? They've been making dog products for years that help with all kinds of problems and they recently started making cat supplements as well. Might be worth a try and a lot less expensive than all the vet bills. Check out the details & reviews at Dinovite.com

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  48. I totally understand what you're saying. My dog, Mirage, is my baby. Always has been. I have had her for 10 years, and she is 13 now. Until recently, she hadn't had any health problems. However, suddenly, she started getting sick, throwing up, and not being able to hold anything, including rice, down. We brought her to the vet and found out her liver was 5x the size it should be; a common thing with older dogs. The vet gave her a couple of weeks. In those weeks, we did a lot of research and tried new things in hopes of making her better with no avail. Suddenly and miraculously, she started getting better. We figured out that she can no longer have meat; her liver just can't process it anymore. We still have our baby girl; playful and happy as ever, she's just a vegetarian now. It's been difficult, but we're figuring out what to feed her and she just keeps improving. Even when the odds are against you, never give up when it comes to the things you love <3

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  49. Aw, poor Lily! You have to give us regular updates on her now.

    I'm having similar problems with my Jack. He's going to be 14 at the end of the month. In the past few years, he's gone from 13 pounds to 8.2 pounds. He also urinates places other than the litterbox and is starting to lose fur on the inside of his legs. The vet did blood tests and ruled out thyroid problems. She put him on kitty prozac for a month (plus a little extra so it wasn't a sudden stop). Between that and upping his amount of wet food, he's gained the weight back. But giving him those little half pills twice a day for a month was a traumatic experience for both of us. He wanted nothing to do with me, and I was heartbroken.

    I'm going to try out that Bach Rescue Remedy for pets and see if that helps us. Thanks for the link!

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  50. I'm so sorry to hear about this. I know you've gotten lots of advice and jumped through so many hoops already. However, I thought I'd mention one more thing in case you hadn't heard about it. Our cat was experiencing similar anxiety issues and was helped a great deal by finding a local animal chiropractor. It sounds crazy, but in our case, our cat was anxious not (entirely) because of mental issues, but because she was experiencing joint pain, especially in her spine, and licked herself to feel better. I'm told that cats often only need a few visits to feel better for years afterwards. I don't know if it pertains to your situation or not, but I couldn't *not* mention it.

    Regardless of the issue, I hope Lily finds a way to feel better soon. She obviously deserves it.

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  51. Jen, have you tried essential oils? Seriously...I've diffused lavender from Young Living in my upstairs and it calms both of my cats. I haven't done it this week and I see a change. I made sure they both liked it...I don't use it ON them (though you can use really diluted oils, but that's another story). It might be worth the try...for you and Lily both! I don't want to go on and on here, but you can contact me if you'd like to talk. :)

    Best wishes to both of you...poor fur baby. (HUG)

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  52. Lily is beautiful! Her eyes are just magical -- I can see why you love her so much!

    That said, I really don't have anything to offer. I had a golden retriever who, as I ended up describing it, lived on the outside of his skin -- he was SO super-sensitive to thunderstorms, that he would go into a blind panic and become destructive and/or try to flee. I ended up using an Anxiety Wrap (a precursor to the Thunder Shirt), which provided skin pressure, a variety of doggie Prozac, and infant heartbeat music, and in spite of all that I still couldn't leave him alone if there was a storm anywhere in the vicinity, so I would have to hold him until the storm was past. What solved his problem was when we moved from New Orleans, where we had thunderstorms 10 months a year, to Maryland, where we had maybe 5-6 storms a year total; his true personality finally emerged from under all the fear and terror and he was the sweetest, most loving dog I have ever known.

    Perhaps you might try adding heartbeat music to what you're doing now? You can play it softly enough that it's barely audible, so it doesn't disturb you when you work, and yet it truly is enormously soothing (for me, too!). It's at least a medication-free alternative.

    But whatever else happens, I know that ultimately your love for Lily will keep both of you going as you try to help her. There may not be any easy answers, but sometimes as a mom to either humans or our four-legged friends, that's something we just have to accept and do our best. It may not feel like enough to you, but I suspect that for Lily it's more than enough because whatever happens, she knows she's loved no matter what. And isn't that what we all want, ultimately?

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  53. First of all, :i;y looks adorables in her oneise! Have you thought about her being allergic to something in the house? Your laundry soap, soap or lotion? Or what you clean the house with? As for a behaviorist, have you tried Jackson Galaxy on Animal Planet? It is mighty frustrating when the felines won't use the Unverisal Translator for their issues. I had a Maine Coon with IBD, could never figure out his triggers! But Lily knows you love her and are trying to help her, really!

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  54. I have always thought of my cat as somewhere between my child and my best friend. After three years of good health and happiness, my cat San developed urinary issues (the bane of every cat owner's existence) and starting having accidents outside the litterbox. We went to several vets, tried different medications, did various urinalysis and bloodwork testing, and, yes, spent hundreds of dollars. The meds would seem to help for a couple days, then San would regress. The testing turned up nothing definitive, and the vets advised (well-meaningly, but also rather unhelpfully) that his irritated bladder was probably due to stress. Since I live by myself in quiet, grad school housing, I was kind of at a loss for what to do to make the environment less feline-stress-inducing. I remember waking up many mornings or coming back from work to find yet another wet spot on the floor and an unhappy looking kitty waiting for me. I was frustrated with San, but more frustrated with myself for not being able to make him better. The next few months were not easy. After much time spent cleaning and many trips to the pet store, we finally found a litterbox San was willing to go inside (albeit not consistently at first), and gradually with love and the calming influences of Comfort Zone, we re-trained him to use the litterbox. It's strange that something you take for granted for three years can suddenly seem like a huge accomplishment. The whole experience had a marked effect on San's personality. Before his urinary issues he was friendly with everyone, even strangers, extremely outgoing, and silly. Now he is much more reserved and other people who know him like to refer to him as "grumpy." It's hard to see a change like that in someone you love, but I feel lucky that even if San is less-trusting of others and, to be honest, often rather grumpy, with me he is usually the sweet kitten I brought home from the shelter more than five years ago who loves to bask in the sun and curl up in my lap. Thanks, Jen, for sharing your beautiful cat, Lily!

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  55. Avocado based cat food was what helped our brain damaged over groomer.
    http://gettingthebucksout.blogspot.com/2012/09/cat-lessons.html

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  56. I know you said you've tried lots of different foods, but I wanted to share what my cats eat just in case. My little girl Felix had bad skin and seriously leaky anal gland (it was so disgusting, no one would hold her). Someone told us to try Natural Balance Green Pea and Chicken food. It's done wonders for her. It's not the same issue you have, but if itchy skin is to blame, maybe it would help? I hope something works. I hate this for you :(

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  57. Oh, and Feliway diffusers have been great for calming my cats too. We put them on one of those christmas light timers, so it's on 15 min and then off 15 min.

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  58. What a beautiful girl! It always makes me sad when our fur-babies suffer, since they can't tell us what's going on. My dog had really bad separation anxiety when I got him. The vet recommended Benadryl to calm him. Not sure if you've given that a shot--it did make him sleepy, but it helped calm the anxiety while we worked on behavioral modification. We were eventually able to stop giving him the Benadryl after about 4 months.

    I switched both of my dogs to a raw food diet from Darwin's last year--not sure if you've ever looked into raw food, but it's been really popular with our dogs. Their coats are gorgeous and the hot spots our poodle used to get are a thing of the past.

    Wishing you all the best with your beautiful girl! I hope you find a path that brings her relief.

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  59. You make us laugh, you make us cry...gosh darn it Jen! :D Is there anything you can't do!?

    Being a "Crazy cat lady" just means you have enough love in your heart to share. Thanks for keeping us updated on this journey, and I hope you find something that helps in these comments!

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  60. Oh, sweet Lilly! Love that "catch the tail" game. With my own baby it is the "stop hitting yourself with your tail" game.
    I hope you can find something that will work for her. In the meantime she is obviously happy and well cared for, which reflects well on you and John. Hang in there!

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    1. After reading other comments, I have to agree with the suggestions on raw feeding. My sister is a raw feeder of her dogs, and they are so much more healthy than anyone else she knows with Irish Wolfhounds! The vets are always amazed at their health each time she brings them in.
      I tried raw feeding my girl, but being a rescue (someone literally dropped her out of their car by a lake) she has food "issues". So I switched her back to kibble and canned and she is so much happier. But it may work for your sweet Lilly.
      Don't BUY the pre-packaged raw food -- buy it and do it yourself. I bought enough for a month, once a month, and spent a half day cutting it all up, putting it into baggies, and freezing it. Then you take out two baggies a day (I fed my girl twice a day) each day. You do have to watch them as they eat - you don't want them picking up the pieces and hiding them in the couch cushions. And pick up any left-overs. Always feed on a hard floor, and always spray the hard surface with a mixture of vinegar/water after you wipe. Work your way up to giving bones. I found butchers that had wild or roaming animals and that would chop up the bigger pieces into smaller pieces for me, which minimized my chopping. A butcher would even give me part of a cow heart (a HUGE organ, but oh so very good for the kitties). Chicken, stew meat, kidneys (be sure of your source), liver (again -source) and beef heart, as well as fish (once again -- watch the source).
      Yes, it was expensive and yes it took time each month. But if my girl hadn't been a rescue with food issues I would still have her on that diet.
      IMHO it is worth a try, though be prepared for the vets to pooh-pooh your choice. My sister had to hunt for a vet that said, "Well I don't think it will work, but I won't discourage you from doing it", which was the best she could find in her area. Good luck to you and John!

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  61. My Cat Cookie had the same problem last year, and our vet said it was allergies. He now gets a monthly steroid shot and he's back to his fat and happy self.

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  62. Poor Lilly! I care for my cats the same way. If I noticed anything severe, I'd be pushing to get results. They are our babies. They deserve the same care anyone does. I hope you're able to find something that works for her. Maybe she just needs a kitty chiropractor. =-P

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  63. *hugs* I hope you find the solution to Lily's problems soon.

    I don't have cats, but I did go through a similar situation with my dog, Nemo, when he was just a puppy. He was on flea medication and up to date on all his shots, but he just started scratching himself like crazy. One morning I was about to leave to go to class and my husband to work, when Nemo scratched himself so much on the back of his neck and chewed his front legs that his white fur was covered in blood. I immediately broke down in tears, and refused to go to class because I didn't want to leave him by himself. Thankfully, I was able to get a vet appointment for that day. After some tests, we found out that he had demodex mange. It was expensive to treat, but it was worth every penny to have my happy and healthy furbaby back.

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  64. Poor Lily! I hope you guys can find something that works for her, but in the meantime at least she has the best 'mom' a kitty could ask for.

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  65. You make my heart swell with Love. My eyes tear a little. Your doing what any good mom would do and does do. Love her, relish the good times and make her comfortable when she gets anxious. I hope you can get some answers but until then, keep it up. I have a dog with a tail issue every year for the last 4 years. I think we have it figured out but its too soon to tell for this year. You want to cry and scream and not listen when people offer ridiculous solutions : why would i amputate his tail for one spot? Do we remove legs when we get a sore? ) *hugs*

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  66. A wonderful resource for all things related to cats is thecatsite.com. The forum there has a section dedicated to feline health and another dedicated to diet. I have found the people there to be extremely knowledgeable and willing to share their knowledge and give support no matter the issue. They are very passionate about cats; they might just be able to offer suggestions that you haven't heard of yet, and you can also write to your heart's content about your furbaby without apologizing for sounding like a "crazy cat lady". (I dislike how that label is so quickly applied to women who loves cats, to the point that we feel we need a disclaimer lest we be labeled. You never hear dog lovers or men who love cats defend themselves in such a way. *steps off soapbox*)


    Wishing you and your beautiful Lily all the best!

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    1. I haven't been to thecatsite.com in quite a while but I wholeheartedly second this... they are all really caring people with quite a few really knowledgeable medical professionals among them!

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  67. *hugs* thank you for this post. My poor kitty Oscar just started doing the same thing. We just moved in with my boyfriend and his two cats. Between the stress of the move and now living with two other cats, he has started to over groom his legs as well. I have tried a bunch of stuff to get him to stop but nothing seems to work. I cry almost everyday. I am going to try the probiotics and see about getting him into a onesie as well. Hope Lilly feels better soon. Give her a chin rub and a hug from me!

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  68. Like some have suggested, I would search out a holistic vet who does acupuncture. The one in my area (that I've done with my dog) uses a laser, not needles. They may also have oils or raw food options not available through a traditional vet.

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  69. I'm so very sorry that Lilly is having such problems and I wish I could offer some kind of advice to help out but my three have never had an issue quite like that before. But I totally sympathize with your pain. I know how I felt when we had to have my Tika's leg amputated and how worried I am now that the arthritis is starting to set into her joints. I very much hope that you are able to find something that will help her out!

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  70. She's beautiful! And you're right love is often messy and hard.

    Have you considered contacting Jackson Galaxy the cat behaviorist? He has a tv show and seems very helpful.

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  71. My sister's cat will hiss at her tail whenever my sister or her husband do anything to upset the cat! My sister had to journal to find out what Leah's stressers were and then try to create an environment to avoid them.
    To quote Todd Ray (of Freakshow on AMC): "You have to take the journey. But we will be here beside you/"

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  72. I so sorry your beautiful sweet Lilly is going through this! I have never had a cat with this particular problem, but I'm going to put two different things together here. You can decide for yourself if it makes sense :)

    I've been having a problem with anxiety, and one of the effects of it was itching. It started with my hands, but would pop up suddenly on different parts of my body. No rash, but the itching was so intense I thought I would scratch my skin right off. Scratching only made the itch more intense. Since I sometimes take Valerian Root when I can't relax enough to sleep, I tried it. Within half an hour the itching stopped! I took it several times a day to relieve symptoms until I got the anxiety under control enough for the itching to stop.

    The other experience I had with Valerian Root was with my cat Zoey. When he was about 8 he started having really bad seizures many times a day. I did a telephone consult with a naturopathic vet (veterinary school AND human Naturopathy school) She had me take him off any chicken (which meant I was making his food) which helped some. He still had seizures though, so she had me give him Valerian Root 3x a day. It worked a charm. He was on that regimen for the remaining 2 years of his life, and was happy all that time.

    Thought I would throw this out there with all the other advice you are getting ;) I sure hope something works! I'll keep you and Lilly in my thoughts.

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  73. Dammit all to hell.... something in both my eyes.

    My furbaby Frankie became a chronic over-groomer when I had to leave her with my parents for a couple of years because I had to move for work. It wasn't that she wasn't cared for, I finally decided she just missed me that much. Within months of moving to a different apartment that does allow small animals, Frankie's fur came back in and she put on weight. She's my little cuddle buddy again.

    I should mention that she still has episodes of grooming her backbone just above her tail COMPLETELY bare, and we go through wipes and lotions and medications until it comes back. This generally happens when I work too much and don't come home at regular hours in the evening. (Clearly it's her way of saying "Mom, I need time with you!") She's also a rescue, abandoned by her mother when she was an infant with the rest of her litter mates. I bottle fed her for months, and we're only apart now when I go to work or away for a trip. As long as Frankie and I stay in our little routine, she seems to have fewer episodes. As soon as I break the routine, though, I can count on weeks of rubbing her down with medicated wipes and cuddling my little buddy while she's drugged and sleepy.

    Kitty love to you and Lily <3

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  74. I had an anxious as hell kitty too. Her crying was so bad I almost had her put down. I went to the vet in tears begging for one more thing to try. I had tried behaviour mods, drugs, food, everything. They gave me something called Relax-um. Just vitamins. http://www.drugs.com/vet/relax-um-can.html (this is a Canadian site but maybe you can find a US one.)

    It freaking worked! I was so thankful to that vet tech. I bought her flowers.

    Good luck to you and your kitty.

    -Lynne

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  75. Aww, Lily is so cute! Her eyes are so beautiful and mesmerizing.
    I'm sorry you have to deal with this. We've been there with one of our cats when there was something obviously wrong, but the vets couldn't figure out what it was, and we tried everything to help him. It was so frustrating. There's something wrong with our old girl now too, and nothing has shown up in tests, but she'll be 16 in a month, so it might just be old age.
    Is a topical form of Prozac something you could try with her? That might be a less stressful option. The vet had suggested a topical thyroid medicine for my mom's one cat, but it wouldn't work out because it would be dangerous if any of the other cats groomed her. Compounding pharmacies can usually make them, and the topical is usually applied inside the ear.

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  76. Have you tried a grain free diet? Wellness and Innova and Blue have some nice ones

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  77. Welcome to like the only area I dispense internet advice in, having fostered cats for wayyy too long now. I would definitely look up more on cat nutrition, since cats are obligate carnivores with a need for wet or soaked food daily. Unfortunately for us cat owners, vets only parrot the Science Diet-esque spiel because those are the companies paying them and vets are lucky to have more than one nutrition class under their belt. I know several of my fellow foster parents have had a lot of luck switching to rabbit based wet or moist foods for a variety of allergy/over grooming/random skin issues, since it more closely matches a cat's dietary needs. Catnurtrition.org has a lot of fantastic info on it. Hope poor Lilybutt starts to heal soon!!

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  79. I had a cat named Lily that I always said was me in cat form too. She was the best. Your Lily seems great too. It's ok to be broken- I know I'm a little broken too. For some of the reasons you say you are too. One look in those eyes and I know it will help you to keep pushing on. She seems very happy maybe she is just a little OCD. Again nothing wrong with that. Some of the best people have that. *cough me! ;) Just keep loving your baby. It's not a cure but it will make you both feel better. Oh and it's ok if you have to eat an oreo or two.

    -Melissa R.

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  80. Poor Lily. :( Hopefully you can figure out what's ailing her.

    I remember when I was younger we had a bunch of farm cats (we lived on 10 acres). Instead of buying the expensive flea medicine we just put cheap-o flea collars on them, as they spent most the time outdoors anyway.
    Anywho, one was pregnant and had her litter on our porch. (YEY! 6 kittens!!) Except, the surprise came when I went to go see the little ones and they were covered in blood! I was so worried! I had to find the mama who was hiding behind an old sewing machine. Her flea collar must've come a little loose when she lost the "baby weight" and it got caught in her mouth. So she tried to unstick it by scratching and scratching and scratching at it. Poor baby girl. I've never seen anything so frightened. We cleaned her up (and the babies) and opted for the more expensive flea stuff for awhile. :(
    --
    Piper P.

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  81. Oh I'm so sorry. Our oldest cat (just turned 10) has always had anxiety issues, though not so bad as Lily's. When he was a kitten, he sucked his tail. For a long time he licked his feet until they'd bleed. Oh and the peeing. There was a lot of peeing when we lived at my parents' house where their elderly cat had been incontinent all over the place. (Which my mom totally erased from her mind, and blamed Puck for everything.) He utterly ruined two couches, an armchair, and an ottoman. I was pregnant at the time and my mom and husband both brought up rehoming Puck. There was crying and screaming on my part. He didn't go anywhere, and when we moved out, the peeing stopped. Most recently he's started losing his fur just because. Oddly enough, it's gotten better with the addition of a new kitten. Tessa will actually play with him, while our middle kitty's activity level is more on par with living stuffed animal.
    We did try Prozac during the peeing era, but he threw it up. Oh. Right. He throws up a LOT. Not hairballs. Just... throws up. Switching to grain free food seemed to help, but that was about the same time the hair loss started. So I don't even know. But what can I do? He's my sweet boy who is too clever. He claws at the side of the bed when he wants me to get up, but he does just out of my reach, so if I want him to stop I do have to actually get up. If it's bed time, he attacks my ankles and herds me towards bed. And then he sleeps draped across the back of my knees. (He's sleeping across my wrists now. Typing is rough. I'll have to hit post when he finally wakes up.) We do what we can for them because they do so much for us. *hugs*

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  82. Hope you aren't too overwhelmed with comments by now! Switching to raw food that is close to a natural carnivore's diet might help. Jackson Galaxy's website ought to have more information about behavior issues. Really hope sweet Lily gets what she needs!

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  83. Have you ever tried a raw diet for Lily? I think it may work wonders for her, and if you're already shelling out big bucks for food RAW feeding wouldn't seem like an expensive switch :) I hope you find a good solution for Lily!

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  84. Hi Jen


    I think I do qualify as crazy cat lady, and dog lady too, probably. And I know how desperate it is when your baby has a problem that no one seems to have a solution for. I was desperate for advice, any advice, so I'm going to chime in for home cooked or raw diet. I've got all my animals on it, and it's made a big difference.


    My dog is now 10 or 11 (and 125lbs, old for a big girl) and I've been taking her to a holistic/chinese medicine vet for acupuncture, and while I never would have thought it (heck, I'm not getting acupuncture for myself), it's helping. My vet had a regular veterinary practise for many years before she switched to the alternative stuff, so she's seen both sides of the fence. Her opinion is that western medicine is great for immediate things - accidents, infections, the like, but if it's a chronic condition, the eastern stuff seems to deal with it much better. I still go to my regular vet for everyone else (I mean all my other animals) and the day to day stuff. It was my regular vet who recommended the new vet to me.

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  85. First of all Jen, I love this blog and Cake Wrecks too!

    Our chiweenie Rusy had come OCD licking going on. He obsessively licked his left front paw, and would leave a trail of slobber all over the house, as he pushed himself along backwards as he aggressively licked. We tried anti -anxiety meds and a thunder shirt thinking it was an anxiety issue but they didn't help. We tried putting socks on his paw and that bitter stuff you use to stop nail biters. Nothing helped. We tried allergy meds thinking it was that. Nothing.

    We recently lost him and the vet finally determined it was a degeneratice brain disorder that had been causing the obsessive licking. You might want to mention that at the next vet appointment. Maybe there is some kind of test that can be done and some meds to help.

    Good luck, you are a wonderful mama!

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  86. Wow. I honestly thought my cat was the only one who did that. When we got Mini she has NO fur on either side of her body or on her stomach. She was a major over groomer. It was a huge oozing mess full of open sores. We could hardly pick her up because she had such little fur. It took 7 years to get it under control. We did a lot of what you mentioned but our saving grace was finding a holistic vet. I do not recommend a holistic vet for everything, but for the skin, it worked wonders. We use flax seed oils, pro biotics, and topical drops to ease the itching and grooming. I remember at one point when she was grooming I would put my hand between her and her skin and she would lick my hand until it was raw and painful and all i kept thinking was that I would take the pain for her and I didn't care, I would do it.
    Seek a holistic vet. I don't remember all of the remedies we used on Mini, all I know is that after we ruled out allergies, and stress, and prozac and meds we had nothing to lose. Good luck.

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  87. This made me cry. Me, who never cries, is sitting here trying to keep tears from getting in my keyboard.

    Thank you. Thank you for sharing this. My cat is an overgroomer, and she hasn't gotten to the bleeding sores stage, but I'm doing what I can to prevent that. Of course my biggest fear is that I won't be able to. That I won't be able to keep her from hurting herself.

    So thanks. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone, and that broken doesn't mean worthless. And thanks for reminding me that even if I can't help her, the love that drives me to try is not diminished.

    Thank you.

    Now to go do something with this face rain...

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  88. Wow, I just read every single comment and now I don't want to go back to work! I just want to research all the suggestions the readers have posted for you. As an owner of 2 cats and 2 dogs, I would suggest essential oils in a diffuser. It worked on the dogs in our office (yes, I'm lucky) that were getting too excited when new people came in. The lavender also worked on the people too! Please keep us updated on what you did to help Lilly. Hugs & kisses to you both.

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  89. Wish I had advice for you like all the other wonderful people here, but I don't. Just want to say I wish you the best with these struggles. And I just have to say, Lily has the most BEAUTIFUL eyes!

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  90. Jen - I'm so sorry and boy do I understand! I had a neutered male, Simon, with the same problem. For us, it was first triggered by anxiety. I had moved apartments and while moving wasn't generally an issue for him (we'd done it several times and as long as he knew where his food was, all was well), this time I moved to a place where city/traffic noise was much greater than previous places. He began overgrooming. Within a remarkably short time, he was entirely bald except for his head (and ONLY because he couldn't get at it!). I was a vet tech at the time and luckily had access to very affordable care and boy, we tried everything. Most of the things you listed above and then some. I have fond memories of, for instance, a sulfer-based bath. "Here kitty, you hang here while I pour this wet and very evil smelling stuff all over you - and then leave it on for 15 minutes." I noticed above that you listed "kitty valium". Is this a pet version of the 'mother's little helper'? Reason I ask is it was valium - plain old, low dose human valium that finally did the trick for Simon. I believe we were using the .25 tabs and cutting them into quarters at first and then halves. He was a little jumpy and odd at first and we very quickly learned to only dose in the morning - if he was still high when we went to bed then we were treated to a evening of "song", where he'd wail the blues for a few hours. Morning doses meant he was fairly sane at bedtime and all was well. He quickly became accustomed to the drug and was simply a mellower version of himself. Within a few weeks, the hair started to grow back in. After about 6 months, he was fully furry again and we started weaning him off, ready to ramp back up if needed for maintenance. But it wasn't - somehow the valium broke the cycle and he never did it again - and I was in that apartment for another year! Simon was about 6 when this happened and lived to the ripe old age of 19. I hope this might help and if I can do anything else, just say so - I'm a faithful reader and I owe you for all the entertainment!

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  91. I'm so glad Lily has a human like you and that you have her :). This made me teary but warm and fuzzy too ;)

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  92. Our pets ARE our babies! You have done so much for your little one and I know how frustrating this issues can be when the vets cannot figure out what is going on and they are suffering in the meantime.

    I had a Chihuahua who was licking her feet constantly, getting ear infections all the time and she started to get sores on her skin. We spent a lot of time and money with several vets trying to figure out what was wrong and finally we went to an allergy specialist. They gave her a skin scratch test to find out all that she was allergic to. Once they had that, they created a serum that we had to inject. Frequently at first and then later taper down to once per month. The allergy serum really improved the quality of the last 4-5 years of her life.

    I hope that you find the cure for Lily's problem soon. You are such a good fur-mommy!

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  93. Have you ever tried essential oils for your sweet kitty? Young Living is the only therapeutic grade EO on the market. They suggest coconut oil and lavender to both relieve skin irritation and calm your pet. It might be worth a try.

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    1. Essential oils can be remarkable and powerful, and require lots of education or a consult with an aromatherapist to ensure proper usage and rule out drug interactions. There is no "therapeutic grade" for EO (DoTerra makes the same claim), it is a marketing term--some brands are better than others, and more expensive does not mean better quality/results.

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    2. I'm personally allergic to lavender, so I would seriously consult with a vet first before using something that might make allergies worse.

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    3. Ashley, thank you! I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought of this...and YL as well! I suggested diffusing because it has worked with my cats and they can walk away from it if they don't like it.

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    4. Cats are extremely sensitive to EOs. If you do want to use them for a cat, I would suggest contacting an animal aromatherapist to be safe.

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  94. My furry baby is my dog. He started doing the same thing, only he cries when he chews/licks holes in himself! We also tried everything you did. BUT, our vet just had us try something fairly new, a drug called Apoquel. It suppresses the histamine reaction in dogs' (and cats') skin. I was skeptical because allergy tests were negative, but this worked the FIRST DAY! He's a different dog now. So I think it would be well worth trying. They claim it doesn't have bad side effects.

    Good luck!

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  95. You made me cry Jen. I hope you find some way to help Lily. My cat had a pretty bad infection last year, so I know how upsetting it can be when they're in pain and it feels like there's nothing you can do to help. Keep trying and I'm sure you'll find something that works though! Lily's lucky to have a great mommy like you!

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  96. I'm so sorry to hear that you're still having the grooming issues with Lily. You hadn't mentioned it in awhile, and I had been hoping you'd figured it out. Lily is so lucky to have you guys, and I certainly hope you're able to figure things out. Please update us if you do!

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  97. Oh my goodness - I can't even. The bf and I have a 9 month old (rescue) long-hair kitty and I can't even imagine going through something like this with him. The infection he had when we adopted him (3 months ago) was bad enough on us - I can't imagine sustained illness and pain.

    *Hugs and strength and head butts*

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  98. Last summer our dog started licking herself. And licking. And licking. And chewing. And gnawing. And licking. Not only did it drive us batty, it removed most of the hair from her back end. We went through so many things--physical and mental/emotional. Sometimes I wanted to yell at her, sometimes I did. Sometimes I wanted to cry. Wearing her PJ's stopped her from licking, but made her SO SAD. Then one day about 4 months ago, we realized she wan't doing it anymore. No idea why. Her hair grew back, she seemed happier and calmer--still anxious, but not as bad. Talk about a relief. Last week, I caught her licking. Then chewing. I don't know why, or what we will do this time--but we will keep loving our poor, broken dog. Reading this makes me feel a little calmer about it.

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  99. I completely understand where you are at - my fur-baby Domestic Shorthair also has overgrooming issues - partly food allergy, but partly behavioural as well. I know you've been swamped with suggestions, but Amitriptylline (an anti-anxiety/anti-histamine, brand name Elavil) worked for her when steriods, immunosuppressants, and other behavioural meds didn't. Good luck!

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  100. Sending you every scrap of love and good will, Jen. *hugs*

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  101. I have been going through a tough time lately with my own anxiety issues and reading this made me cry but didnt trigger anything. Any chance somebody has some wisdom to share about how to handle panick attacks in a dentistchair would be awesome though, had two today and have a new appointment tomorow. I hate this week. Hope lilly feels better soon, but no idea about what could help.

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    1. I don't have panic attacks, so I don't know if my comments will help. But I DO have a dental phobia, and I avoided going to the dentist for more than 5 years! I found a very supportive "spa" dental clinic. It's a very soothing environment that really feels like you're going to get a massage rather than a cleaning. They offer complimentary services such as a paraffin dip for your hands, a heated neck wrap, heavy blankets, eye pillow, etc. to help you relax, and you can even book a massage or other spa treatments for before or after your appointment. This was all very appealing to me, but I also needed a little more help. I spoke with the office before my appointment, and the dentist prescribed a sedative for me to take before bed the night before my appointment and 1 hour before the start of my appointment. This helped tremendously. I was still sweating and gripping the chair, but I made it though. :) Having a very supportive hygienist also helped. She constantly checked in with me, took breaks when I needed to and joked around, helping me feel more at ease. I think the key is finding an office that understands your needs and is willing to work with you. My particular office deals with a lot of patients who have anxiety, phobias, etc., so they were very helpful.

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  102. Jen,
    Have you tried Oatmeal shampoo on her? It's not a cure but it has helped me with all the over groomers I have encountered.

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  103. My cat has allergies. He licks his skin raw until it bleeds. Have you tried Atopica? It is an oral allergy med for cats. It didn't work at first but now that i have a routine down it works perfectly. I give my cat a ribbon of hairball med (I like the Hartz brand because it isn't too runny) & then I don't feed him for 1-2 hours, give him the med & then wait another 30 min to half an hour to feed him. Another trick is that the bottle of med has to be kept in the dark as much as possible. If it is exposed to light it makes it less effective & it expires faster.

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  104. Hi Jen,
    Years ago I switched to a holistic vet and other alternative therapies including chiropractic after a succession of regular vets almost killed my beautiful long-haired stray with their "medicine" for her constant vomiting. Please consider the comments listed by others above about alternatives before deciding your little girl is "broken" or has a Prozac deficiency. From what you've said she manifests the same problems many pets do who eat regular pet food, even that supplied by veterinarians, and she may respond quickly when her nutritional deficiencies are corrected. Among other things, my holistic vet recommended Nzymes products. They have a very interesting page about problems like Lily is manifesting: http://www.nzymes.com/store/pc/Allergies-in-dogs-or-cats_Understanding-and-guidance . They were very helpful over the phone in devising a protocol for my little girl whose problems were different from Lily's but seemed equally intractable. Also, please consider reading _Foods Pets Die For_. It is somewhat out of date but still bursting with helpful information on what not to feed kitty (e.g., grains, animal by products, and I would add GMOs and pesticides). Warning: it is a shocking and very disturbing book, but she offers clear alternatives to the problems she identifies. All good wishes for her speedy recovery!

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  105. Aww such a pretty furbaby. I hope her issue gets resolved; it can't be easy for you to see her in pain like that.
    I have this problem with my bunny - he's almost 7 (not fixed) and he's a bit on the nervous side. Cos rabbit digestive systems are so fragile, I can't drug him - I just spend as much time with him out of his pen that I can, and make sure he gets enough hay. My cat had something similar, but it wasn't an overgrooming problem. It helped to change her food to a protein based diet based mostly on chicken and beef rather than the fish she had been getting before. It could be like in humans who eat non food items that her body is missing something in her diet and she's compensating by eating her fur :/
    It's funny how the pets we have tend to take on our characteristics. My two furbabies have my quirks it seems.
    ~erin kristine

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  106. My cat experienced some trauma as a kitten and thus has some issues as well. And while it's not a cure-all, I have found that catnip actually helps to relax and calm her down! I don't like to let her eat the catnip because she has a sensitive tummy (I feed her Blue Buffalo Sensitive formula), so instead I get catnip spray from the pet store and spray it on her cat bed and scratching posts everyday. She loves rolling around in it and I instantly see a difference! If I skip this routine even for a day, her anxiety and other problems worsen. I also give her the GNC calming treats sometimes. Poor Lily's struggles sound a lot worse than my cat's, but hopefully either this or someone else's ideas will help in addition to what you are already doing! She is so lucky she was rescued by someone who could love her unconditionally and understand her needs!!

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  107. I have human kids and fury ones (My youngest has that same Froggy/ducky onsie). I have no real advice but I know how horrid it can be to see your baby hurting and not know how to make it better. You and Lilly will make it through this it just may not be a fun journey. Huggs and ear scratches to you both.

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  108. You have mentioned in previous posts what amazing results you've had from your chiropractor. I was wondering if you have tried taking Lily? Animal chiropractors can do just as much good for our furry companions as they do for us.

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  109. I had a cat with some mysterious illness that defied diagnosis and treatment. Too little, too late I began applying the same natural health treatment to him that I was doing for myself ... grain-free diet, plenty of saturated fats (coconut oil and butter), bone broth, probiotics, and plenty of sunshine (in the window for him). We achieved much better health and happiness for his last two years - he put back on the weight he lost, regained his appetite, and the litterbox wasn't nearly as noxious. But he was too far gone, and an acute bout of vomiting led to a diabetic crisis or something, and he didn't make it. My efforts did buy us a couple more years though.

    I hope you find the answers for your baby's malady ...

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  110. Like a few others, I was going to suggest a raw diet, since cats are obligate carnivores. We give our dogs Stella and Chewy's as part of their diet, and I know they make cat food as well. Don't know if it would help, but since I know you're willing to go to any lengths, it's something worth looking into! My aunt has cats and did a lot of reading, and I know she makes all of her cats' food (not sure how much is raw).

    Anyway. More importantly, we're here for you as you all get through this, however you can.

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  111. Sweet Lily. Sweet Jen & John. Keep loving her and letting her love you.

    Our oldest (human) child has had significant mental health issues since she was 9. She's now 24. Yep, I can't make her world all right. Loving her is messy and broken and worth it. We keep at it because we can, even though it costs us. Lily is so blessed to have you as her mum and dad! Thanks for investing in her emotionally and financially.

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  112. She was on a sensitive dog food that was based on a combo of fish and rice. While it cleared up some of her allergies, it never affected the paw-chewing. Or the ear infections (which I totally forgot about - we lost her to cancer last September, so a lot of the frustrations we had with her are beginning to be forgotten). Sadly I think there were a lot of other things she was allergic to which we couldn't isolate her from as well.

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  113. Jen, if you use Benadryl, watch out how you give it to her. The vet told us to give our female kitty Benadryl for allergies, but didn't bother to tell us that when that stuff hits their tongue they froth at the mouth to an extreme level! We looked it up online, and it turns out that it's normal, but vets never warn you! If you can use a dropper and get it behind her tongue it'll work fine.

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  114. Oh poor Lily. One of my fur babies (Pistachio..he's a sweet little nut) had a horrible wound on his neck that he would not leave alone. I had to keep him in a "wife beater" t shirt. Finally we put him on a grain free diet and it was gone with in a week. I hope that you find a way to deal with her problem as easy as we did.

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  115. So very much love for you and Lily.

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  116. HUGS!

    Didn't you say that your anxiety got markedly better when you started taking good probiotics? Are there probiotics for cats? They say that humans and pets often share the same gut microbiome.
    (Too lazy to look up references, sorry.)

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  117. Awwww, poor girl. =( At least you know she's not deficient in people-loving.

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  118. You are loved, Jen.

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  119. Poor Lily. And poor Mom & Dad. How very stressful for all of you. Several years ago we tried a pet psychic when one of our cats was experiencing difficulties. We found the psychic to be very helpful. Good luck to all of you.

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  120. Much love to you and Lily, people said the same thing to me when my 15yo furbaby got sick last year, we spent money we didn't have, because she meant the world to us, sadly it wasn't enough and she passed away in my arms. People were saying "why are you so upset, it's just a cat". No she was never just a cat, she was my baby who helped me through some tough times and I loved her and I would have done everything to make her better.

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  121. My fur-babies ARE my babies. I worry about everything with them! I don't know if I can ever be a human baby parent- esp after working in a special needs school environment for the past year and a half. Sending all my positive juju vibes your way- for both of you!!!

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  122. Why not try some massaging of Lily? If nothing else it gives you a reason to pet her, which I'm sure that she'll enjoy.

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  123. My parents feed both their dogs a tablespoon of Greek yogurt every morning with their breakfast, and it makes a difference with their sensitive tummy issues. They get the same yogurt Mom has (different spoon!), too!

    Sorry to hear about Lily's issues, but she is a fortunate girl to have you for a fur-Mom!

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  124. My cat had this issue. The plug-in pheremones helped until they didn't. My cat isn't one that tolerates taking pills or cones and I can't imagine trying to get a onesie on her! What worked for our cat is, as someone else suggested, Elavil (amitriptyline).
    However, the bigger suggestion I have, if it applies, relates to "she couldn't keep the prozac down, and forcing pills into her was horrible." Our cat will not take pills - she's too good of a fighter. We pay extra and go farther to a compounding pharmacy to get the drugs mixed into a transdermal formula. We just rub it in her ear - had to hold her down at first, but still much easier than holding her down, then trying to open her mouth. One note - if you go this route, wear gloves :) Transdermal goes through your skin as easily as hers, as my mom learned the hard way.
    Really hope you find something that works for Lily. Just keep loving her like you are!

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  125. Have you considered shaving her? Buzzing her down to a military cut may remove her desire to groom. It works on my dog. She is a poodle mix, so LOTS of hair. When I let her hair grow, no matter how much bathing, conditioning and brushing there is constant scratching and rubbing and itching. Once she's buzzed down to astro turf, the misery disappears and she is a normal dog.

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  126. Maybe see if you can get in touch with the lady that runs this site? She seems very well-versed with regards to cat behaviour and modifying negative behaviours. I really hope you can figure something out!
    http://www.wayofcats.com/blog/

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  127. Lily, lovely Lily! :) As Stitch would say, eh broken, but still good, yeah, still good.

    We have 3 cats: 2 sisters 3 yr-old (Lily & Luna) and a 6 month old kitten (Penelope). While the older girls were adjusting to their littlest sister (who I found in the middle of the road on my way to work last Nov. - she was nearly struck by 3 cars) I diffused young living essential oils: peace & calming and stress away, which seemed to help a lot. They're therapeutic grade and really help me when I feel stressed or anxious.
    I've recently seen that Jackson Galaxy put out a line of essential oils for cats - may be worth a looksie.

    I know how hard it is when the furbaby be ailing or unhappy. Our eldest cats, who have gone over the rainbow bridge, easily had several thousands spent on them on the last few years of their lives. Although it meant more debt for us, I wouldn't have changed a thing with what treatments we sought out for them trying to give them the best care we could. We are the privileged caretakers and we will do all in our power for these precious floofy lives bestowed upon us. I pray you all find a solution soon, or at least something to help.

    P.S. after you mentioned the onesie for Lily in a previous post, I made one for Penelope after she was spayed because she was able to get out of the inflatable cone and yank on her stitches. I should have names her Houdini because she wore the onesie for all of 15 minutes and was able to get out of it. :)

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  128. Just as a suggestion, but you can put fish oil on top of her food. That helps their coat and it not harmful for them. You can use it for both of your kitties too.

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  129. Hi Jen, John, and kitties. I'm so sorry to hear of Lily's struggles. I happen to be a vet and have gone through similar things with my own dog. Just because I'm a vet doesn't mean I found the answers quickly or easily! I have a highly anxious rescue dog who also has allergies and IBD. Awhile back I had a similar revelation to yours- my dog and I are very similar in our imperfectness, so we're awfully lucky to have each other! Most cats who over groom have a medical cause, but if a medical cause isn't found then anxiety is typically the culprit. There is a lot of trial and error for pets with anxiety, just like people. I did a lot of behavior modification training, which is easier with a dog than a cat. Much of it was based around making him less of an anxious "velcro dog" since he is typically stuck to me just like Lily is stuck to you. I finally had to admit to both of us that my best efforts with training and enrichment were not enough and started him on medication. The first few I tried were not helpful. Prozac at a regular dose made him disinterested in life and he wouldn't eat for days so I stopped it. Eventually (out of desperation) I tried it again and found that a half dose of Prozac is very helpful for him and has no noticeable side effects. I also use a veterinary essential oil / vitamin E product called Dermoscent on him and several of my patients. It's available online. I have several colleagues who use acupuncture and chiropractics with good results, though most patients are being treated for chronic pain not anxiety. Just make sure that any vet you decide to see for such therapy is certified- the Chi Institute is in Florida so you shouldn't have a hard time finding a good veterinary acupuncturist if you go that route. Be cautious with a raw diet due to risk for salmonella for the cats and yourselves. Most pets' food allergies are ingredient-based (usually the protein, NOT the grain, hence the "hydrolyzed protein" diet ZD) and whether it is cooked or raw is usually not significant (of all my allergic patients I have had only one who did great on raw turkey but itched a bit when it was cooked), so you might as well use cooked foods for safety's sake. I have seen MANY pets become ill (and a few die) from raw meat diets and haven't seen any that have benefitted from it. Every fur baby is different, but with a devoted family willing to try different therapy options- both traditional and eastern- we can almost always find something to comfort them. It's just so frustrating along the way. Lily is lucky to have you, I'm sure that you and your vet will find a way to help her. I know that sometimes as a fur mom you can feel very guilty when your pet is struggling. I used to wonder if I should find another home for my dog since I seemed to be unable to provide for him in a way that made him happy and secure. As a vet I know that isn't the case, but I have a hard time being objective when it comes to dealing with my own fur baby. Always keep in mind that her anxiety is not due to your failing as a fur mom, same as, for example, your anxiety is not due to any negligence on John's part (He sounds pretty amazing! Does he have a single brother...?). A behaviorist I worked with suggested keeping a diary of my dog's anxiety issues to track his progress. When things got really tough I looked back at how he had been a few months prior and it helped me keep my perspective, and that was all the encouragement I needed to keep trying and trying and trying. These days I can use the bathroom without my dog having an anxiety attack (which is great, since at 125 pounds he takes up the whole bathroom), his coat is almost full, and I no longer have to debate whether he will safer in or out of the crate when I leave him home alone. I hope that you find relief for Lily soon, hang in there! We're all rooting for you!

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  130. Jen,
    I know this is so frustrating. I worked in a grooming shop and a lot of our long hair cats had this problem of overgrooming. I would suggest shaving her and giving her a lion cut. I don't know if you've already tried this but if not it's not harmful and worth a shot. Hang in there.

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  131. I'm going through something similar with my cat, Storm. A few years ago, I discovered she had licked a part of one of her paw so badly that it became infected. The ER vet told me that if I didn't figure out what was wrong soon, her paw was going to have to be amputated.
    So I took her to my regular vet and we figured out that I'd have to find a different food, even though years prior she had never shown any allergic reactions to what she was eating. So far, there is only ONE brand and of that brand, ONE flavor that she can tolerate. While she does still get little sores on certain spots of her body, it's nothing like what it used to be.
    She was diagnosed with an auto immune disease and has to have steroid shots (we just started the shots and have recently discovered that she can't go more than a month without them). I was giving her medicine by mouth up until then, but she started associating me with the meds and would run when she saw me holding the bottle.
    I don't have any great advice, I just wanted you guys to know that I can understand what you're going through, even though my situation is a little different.
    I wish you both the best of luck. Lily is so very lucky to have such loving people to take care of her.

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  132. Good luck Jen! I have no advice for what you can do (there are obviously a lot of other posters with experience and ideas), but just a note to let you know that I'm rooting for you and Lily. I guess I do have one piece of advice, and that is to not feel pressured to follow every suggestion. You'll get a sense of what you're comfortable with and what you think will work with for you and Lily. Just don't feel any guilt for doing, or not doing, something someone tells you should or shouldn't have done. There's never a perfect answer that fits all situations. :-)

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  133. Oh Jen, I'm so sorry. I haven't had to deal with overgrooming anywhere near the scale you are, but I feel for you - as both a human mom and a kitty mom. There's a lot of good suggestions in the comments... I hope something works for you both. Sending good vibes for both of you...

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  134. saw on an Australian vet programme with a kitten that over-groomed. it had a calcium deficiency. all they did was add a bit of cheese to its meals. Might be worth a try.after a calcium pill boost for a week or two

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  135. Hugs. Avid reader but I don't normally comment. I too have an over-groomer cat. I am sorry I don't have good medical advice. It does get tough, especially when she bleeds on furniture and gives me "I am sorry Mommy" looks. It helps to look at the flip side. I remind myself that I am blessed to be able to provide a loving home for this slightly broken furry baby. I know some many others would not be able to look past the issue to see a loving kitty and through the stress in see the blessing of the kitty I have (even when she sits in my lap while I pee)!

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  136. This is a very sweet post. Our cat also over-grooms (our vet calls is barbering), though the Prozac helps. Getting the Prozac into her has been a comedy of errors, but now we've started putting a little bit of water in her dish and letting it dissolve before stirring it into her soft food. We'll see how long this lasts - she's gotten wise to all our previous attempts at sneakery (hiding it in a pill, crushing it into her food, shoving it down her throat - she can hide that thing in her cheek for ages). And she's not everybody's favorite cat. My husband and I alone get to see the sweet, purring side of her, and to the rest of the world she's a fluffy ball of rage and fear. In the end, cats have individual personalities, and you just have to let them be who they're going to be, and love them all the same.

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  137. Another vote for trying a raw diet (if you haven't already) - one of my boys is a bit broken in a similar way. He used to get horrible acne and allergic reactions, and he'd lick and scratch himself until he bled. When we made the switch to raw, almost all of his issues went away. He's still prone to hairballs, but that's the only issue left over - the days of bleeding chins and naked kitty butts are far behind us.

    Lots of love to you and Lily - we're all a little broken, but having someone who loves you makes things better.

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  138. Poor Lily! I hope you all find a lasting solution to her problems soon. Glad her spirits are (mostly) good despite all the unpleasantness.

    Our dog, Bilbo, went through a very rough patch last year. Shortly after his first birthday, he started scratching himself constantly, and chewing on his paws to stop those from itching too. He grew big, gray, scabby, hairless patches on his belly, and chewed off all the fur on his paws and back legs. Sometimes his paws would bleed too. He went from a rambunctious pup who always wanted to play to a sad, itchy little thing that did nothing but eat, sleep, and scratch.

    We visited our vet half a dozen times, tried new shampoos, new food, antibiotics, benadryl, steroids, skin creams, you name it. Our vet suggested we make an appointment with a vet dermatologist, which we did, but they were so booked it would be another 3 months before we finally got to see the dermatologist. He told us that Bilbo (like many cairn terriers) has a bunch of allergies, which no skin cream or over-the-counter allergy meds would help. His clinic gave Bilbo a fully allergy skin test (66 injections! Poor baby...), created a Bilbo-specific allergy vaccine cocktail, and sent us home with that and some antibiotics as well for infections because of the scratching.

    Bilbo will never be free of his allergies, and the vaccine is not a "cure." We give him an injection every 2 weeks at home, and we will for the rest of his life. Improvement was slow but steady. The hairless patches grew back, and he stopped doing nothing but scratching all day, every day. The first time he actually wanted to PLAY in months, I was so excited. Bilbo has just celebrated his 2nd birthday as an itch-free dog!

    Happy endings are possible for you AND for Lily, even if a happy ending has more to do with management and control than with miracle cures. Keep your chin (and her tail) up!

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  139. My smoky Tortie is Lily also, and she has always had "skin bumpies with lots of licking" it was just something that I thought we had to live with (shes 5), then over thanksgiving she developed a massive rash under her arms and her hair was falling out with seeping scabs, and obsessive licking. The vet decided she has a flea allergy that turned into a skin infection so Steroids, antibiotics and a change in food was what the vet prescribed, well the food gave her horrible explosive diarrhea, so they added the probiotic, which she loves. She is now off the special food, I can't justify the expense for something that did not seem to help, but she still waits to eat until after the probiotic is sprinkled on her regular food. The steroids and the antibiotics helped clear up the infection and my Lily felt relief apparently it has been giving her problems for a while, because she is now back to being a fun playful kitty. I regularly clipper her tummy fur too just to keep down the risk of matts because while her back is straight fur her stomach furr is curly and mats way too fast, and she hates combs (loves the brush though) So the vet was only partially correct and sadly they didn't want to admit it, but they are still one of the best local vets around. So my advice too, is to try the probiotic, I know it may not be a solution for you but just wanted to share some "crazy cat lady" love with you guys

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  140. She's beautiful and you obviously care for her very much. Cats are sensitive creatures and will often pick up on the emotions of their owners and mirror them. While I'm sure it's a scary ordeal for you, maybe stressing about it less will help the both of you. Here's a good article on the subject http://feline-nutrition.org/health/feeling-stressed-so-is-your-cat . Hope she's well soon!

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  141. Wow, Lily's eyes are gorgeous! I hope you find a solution to the problem--or at least a way to manage it efficiently. My cat doesn't have an overgrooming problem (in fact, he pretty much never grooms himself), but I had a dog that would chew holes into his feet. He eventually stopped with a large dose of allergy meds and wrapping, but it took us a long time to find something that worked (and a few different types/doses of the allergy meds)

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  142. I am so sorry to hear about Lily. My boyfriend and I are cat lovers as well and have gone through medical mysteries with various feline companions.

    We currently have one that is pulling hair out of his tail. I can usually distract him with something else and he forgets about it for a few days, but I'm worried for the day that will cease to work. I don't know if his issues are food or stress related. We haven't found any common trigger so yet another trip to the vet will be in his future.

    Its so hard to watch. I'm so sorry.

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  143. I was surprised with all the posts that T Touch (Tellington Touch) isn't more known. It made a world of difference for my schizy baby. It's easy to learn and feels like a love-fest for both you and your kitty-- it's just a precise way of moving your fingers on her several times a day. Please look it up! If there is a local practitioner, it will be so worth a session, otherwise this is a good place to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84tW1XjuKnk
    (My foster kitty looks so much like Lily and she has her broken issues too, so I'm writing this with leaky eyes.)

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  144. I just want to put in my experience with a cat who did the licking herself bald, etc. We went through all the same things as far as no meds working, no pills, you name it, we tried it. Do you give your cats Temptation treats at all?? We used to laugh and called them "kitty crack" because Minerva would come on a dead run for her treats. We had to hide them from her. She eventually stopped eating her regular food and only wanted them. Meanwhile, she's licking herself bald and raw and bloody. Her personalitly started to change, she went from sweet and loving to biting and hiding. I went on line to see what was in Temptations that was so addicitng. What I found was horrifying. Apparently we are not the only ones who call them kitty crack. People everywhere are reporting the same things we were seeing. Cats were dying, it's awful. My brother his cat was starting to pull out her hair, and I asked if he was giving her Temptations. He stopped letting her have them and she got better. Unfortunately, minerva never recovered and she stroked out one night and left us. I completely blame Temptations. just my opinion

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  145. This made me cry. Anyone who thinks pets are "insignificant" has no idea. I love my cat so much that sometimes I wonder how anyone could have children and love them more. My aunt runs an animal shelter and had a cat that had such severe stomach issues that he would just have diarrhea everywhere. She tried everything, prescription food, special pills, everything. Then someone donated Purina Naturals to the shelter so she thought she would give it a chance. Six months later and no tummy troubles! And I've heard from other people who have had problems with their cats that when they switched to that, they had no more problems. That's what we feed our cats and they've never had problems. I highly suggest giving it a shot! And good luck, I hope you find something that works!

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  146. Neuropathy? It would cause pain/tingling like flee bites that doesn't stop.
    Any chance your cat is diabetic? (I don't even know if a cat can be diabetic)
    Sorry for your hard journey :(

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  147. Hang in there, Jen. My dog, a rescued golden retriever, started having major anxiety in her crate when we left the house after a year of no problems. She would bark non-stop, smash her face into the crate until she had sores all over her mouth and eyes, lick herself raw, and defecate every day. We tried switching to a plastic enclosed crate instead of a wire crate, we tried Thundershirts, we tried Prozac, we tried behavioral training, we tried a special toy in the treat, nothing helped. She would literally run away to the farthest corner of the house and hide when she knew we had to crate her so we could go to work. I was a wreck, feeling like a bad parent, not knowing how to help her, stop her suffering. We were incredibly fortunate that we discovered that she could stay in our bedroom with the door shut and not destroy the room, and her anxiety seemed to vanish. She's been fine ever since. I know that isn't necessarily helpful to you and Lily, but know you're not alone in your struggle, and maybe you will find a solution for her one day. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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  148. Fur babies are still babies. Happy Mother's Day and even if there isn't a miracle cure out there, know that she knows you love her just as she is.

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  149. Lily is a sweetie! No advice but just wanted you to know as another cat lover that I definitely understand your sadness and worry. I hope that some of the advice that others on this list shared with you has a positive effect and that your Lily is soon stress free. Thinking about you!

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  150. Jen, I would also suggest doing a raw diet for Lily (and Tonks)! It is the healthiest way you can feed a cat. I also agree with the other commenters suggesting trying a holistic vet. The only other thing that I would suggest is to consult a cat behaviorist. Sometimes it's not a medical issue that can be fixed with pills, but rather a mental issue that needs time and patience. One thing that worked for my kitties when they started acting stir crazy was building a "catio"! With all John's and your expertise, I'm sure that you two could come up with a cool design. I just have an enclosed tunnel from a cat door to the enclosure, and my girls can go in and out whenever they want and still be safe.

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  151. I feel you, Jen. It's so hard watching them suffer and having to stand by, feeling like there's nothing you can do… All you can do is try everything you (and your specialists) can think of. And cry a little now and then. Ah, well.

    Could it be a mental problem? Aren't there, like, psychologists for pets… What would you call those in English *googles* Ah - they're called cat behaviorists. I know that with dogs, these people can offer another perspective on a problem like that (as opposed to the vets, who've probably never seen her at home, have they?). A behaviorist will watch her at home and might come up with an interesting solution that's got nothing to do with medication at all. Like, not only play with her, but actually teach her tricks (sounds strange, but I've seen it help cats be calmer). Or make some small but significant changes to your living space, like making her perches to sit on (when she's not in your lap). Or just change the kitty litter (can actually do wonders). They know how cats work. It may be worth a shot?

    Also, over here, we have a medication called Zylkene. (Sorry, I have no idea how it might be called with you over there or if they even sell it.) It's a homeopathic drug that I hear is doing wonders around here for anxious dogs and cats. As far as I can see, it's a casein hydrolyzate won from trypsin, which is a combination of three enzymes (science!) found in the stomachs of pups and kittens. It helps them digest their milk during the first few weeks. Given to an adult pet, it can thus ease anxiety and have a (very noticeable, if the forum comments are to be believed) calming effect. Maybe ask around whether there's something similar in you corner of the world?

    I also second (third? fourth?) the notion of trying probiotics. Digestion can influence a lot, and it sure can't hurt to try. Just keep in mind (if you're inclined to try simple yogurt or some such) that she shouldn't get too much lactose-rich dairy. I'm pretty sure there's lactose-free probiotic yogurt…?

    Best of luck to you and your little soul mate.

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    1. Hah! Found it: http://www.vetoquinolusa.com/Products/Behavior/index.html

      BTW, those vines are adorable (:

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  152. I've had a cat with over grooming problems as well, and it's really hard but in the end, you love that cat more than the problems. My baby (Gilgamesh) over groomed and scratched himself until he basically had no fur left except for the top of his head. He got blood and fur everywhere, and nothing I did (medicine, vet visits, tests, cones, onesies) had any affect. I was living with a room mate, and I got a lot of grief over him. So I chose to move to my own residence, and something miraculous happened. He stopped. He got better. Looking at him today, you wouldn't know he was the same cat from a year ago. He's gained weight and he's happy, but he does have relapses. Just stay strong and love your kitty because in the end, you're the most important thing to that kitty.

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  153. Our 12 year old tabby, Strider, is my furr kid. I'm his person. But he is getting older and starting to do things out of character. And his tail is slowly losing nerve endings and no longer works. He was starting to pee in spots other than his litter box, etc... But you know I just feel so strongly that when we adopt these friends it's a commitment like marriage - for better or for worse. So we just put out a new litter box where he needs one. We clean up his messes. I know we might be getting closer all the time, but For the love and purrs and mutual adoration it's worth it.

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  154. I don't have any suggestions, but I'm sending hugs to you and your beautiful Lily!

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  155. suggestion 1: We have a cat called Tux and she came into my boyfriends care half bald and he was told she would have to have weekly shots for allergies. turns out she was allergic to cat nip of all things. have you tried getting catnip out of the house?
    suggestion 2: same cat started licking herself bald and loosing tons of weight. the reason. she had lost her cat friend. once she was introduced to a new younger cat she was all maternal and this has stopped. Tux ( Mama Tux as we mostly call her) is now an old lady at 12ish years old and happy, healthy, and bald spot free.

    best of luck as i can relate. my cat is my baby as well. Just to touch on another story we moved to a great loft apartment in the heart of downtown with 3 floors and spiral staircases. through the last 6 months i have spent endless weekends "cat proofing" our staircase and railings as my cat wants to use all his 9 lives ( thankfully with out incident ).

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  156. <3 <3 <3 you are an amazing mom to your furry baby. hopefully you will find a solution to her over grooming but i'm so very sure that Lily knows you love her more than you could ever express. good luck.

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  157. Have you tried therapeutic grade oils on her? My pug/frenchie mix is a little insane and when she gets too over the top, whether it's licking the blanket nonstop or chewing on something she shouldn't, or just being too crazy, I resort to using just a swipe of doTerra's Serenity Oil on her back paw pads. Online it says that Lavender works best for cat's while Serenity works best on dogs. Just a thought.

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  158. This post made me cry. What a gorgeous cat, and so sweet! I feel for you. Our cat is also anxious, but hasn't gotten into the overgrooming at this point. She's about 8 years old. She's always been nervous and shy. Lately she seems to have mellowed a bit and will sit on my legs (when they're upon the ottoman or recliner) for as long as I'll stay still. She even let my husband pet her(!)

    One of my sister's (many) cats has gone through something like this. I think they decided it was allergies and he is being fed "limited ingredient" food (i.e., Addiction Viva la Venison or Royal Canin Rabbit). We actually give my cat the Addiction and she is doing well with it (she's incredibly picky). It sounds like you've tried that route though. I've also heard that feeding raw is best if you can stomach it (and afford it).

    Love both your blogs. Please keep us updated!

    Best,
    Kerri (aka lazykerri)

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  159. Oh, poor kitty. *hugs you both* I wish I had a suggestion, although I suspect even if I did, you've probably already tried it. If it helps, I'm thinking of you and sending good vibes.

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