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Cat pulling hair out after using Advocate

Author: VioVet
Published: Thursday 28th February 2013
Updated: Thursday 6th February 2020

Our customer asked:

I am really concerned about my cats behaviour since I gave him his last dose
of Advocate which I purchased from you early this month.
I gave him his monthly dose as usual last Monday and on Wednesday I noticed
him pulling at the fur on his side when he was grooming to the point where
he was actually pulling tufts of fur out. This has got progressively worse
and I took him to my vet on Saturday, who was not really interested in the
Advocate as they didn't prescribe it!
My Vet recommended Feliway and Zylkene which I have been using since
Saturday but today he has pulled even more fur out and started on his other
side!
He is happy enough in himself still eating, drinking, purring wanting
cuddles and playing with his toy there have been no changes at home and he
is not showing any signs of being stressed. Likewise there are no visible
sings on his skin of any irritation, redness, inflammation, fleas
infestation or anything else I can think of and he has shown no signs of
anything like this in the past.

Our reply:

Firstly I would say that it is possible that your cat has reacted to the Advocate, but not at all certain. Probably it would be sensible to report your suspicion to the authorities by the correct method. The following link is to the VMD who are the government body who regulate and monitor the safety of veterinary medicines. They can then assess if this happens more than once and if it should be looked into further. See http://www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/adversereactionreporting/

Secondly your vet should of course provide suitable advice and treatment wherever you buy medication from. Our Advocate comes from the same manufacturer and UK wholesalers that your vet uses as it happens, but even if it were different, your cat still needs appropriate treatment

I would also say that it is not at all unusual for cats to start to do behave as yours is. There are thought to be a lot of potential triggers for this. Some of them are simple "itchy" things like fleas or other parasites, others are more tricky to understand. Adverse drug reactions can cause a general feeling of itchiness, so the Advocate may have caused this. Many other things seem to do so too, and the fact that it took 2 days or so to happen might make it less likely to be the Advocate. Allergies to foods or air-borne dusts and pollens cause a similar reaction. Bizarrely cats seem to spontaneously chew at themselves sometimes. It can be a bit like people biting their nails - there is no sensible reason to do it, but affected cats get into the habit and can go on to make quite a mess of themselves. That is probably why your vet has given you Zylkene and Feliway. They are intended to try and deal with whatever psychological component might be involved. Often there is nothing physically wrong with cats which behave like this, but it seems to be a daft habit. The extent to which they genuinely feel itchy probably varies, but as a problem it is much less common in cats which owners describe as relaxed, calm and laid-back. It is more common in cats which are described as highly-strung, nervous or temperamental. This could be because the problem originates more in the mind than the body, or it could be that a degree of itchiness is ignored by some cats and reacted to by others. It is difficult to say.

My advice would be to avoid ANY spot-on medications for a while, use Feliway and Zylkene, try to keep your cat relaxed and at ease, and see how things go. It might all settle down soon, or it might become a bit of a habit. You might want to give an oil supplement such as Yumega to keep the skin in good condition. Does your cat get hassled by any other cats, either in your house or nearby? Other cats are often the most stressful thing to cats, and pulling hair out can sometimes be a response to that. If this might be the case, see if you can do anything to help.