Bugs’s Skin : Help! Avert Steroids!

Friends, if you have any light to shed on this fix in which we find ourselves, I’d love it if you’d shine a little over here.

Bugsy has an ugly skin entity.  I provide pictures at the end of this post, for those of you with intestinal fortitude.  The creature seems to have centered over each eye, creeping back toward his ears (well, I guess “galloping back” would probably be the phrase I’m looking for).

At first I thought this was battle-wounds from fights with Barney.  It did seem to start that way, with some pretty good claw-marks, oh, say, 1.5 months ago.  But this is no longer that.  As of yesterday morning, it’s – galloping.

Bugs has had some indications of trouble over his eye in the past.    Also an ugly episode with feline acne under his chin.

Yesterday the vet ruled out skin mites.  We’re awaiting fungus test-results – but her money is on allergy.

To deal with the bleeding wounds (yes, it’s pretty ugly), she has given him a shot with antibiotics.  But she is proposing steroids for the underlying condition.

I do not want to go that route.  I want to try to isolate the allergen and stop the condition that way.  If it is an allergy.

So if you’re willing to stick around and ponder this with me, I’m going to list the prime suspects.  Anybody with any insight, please help.

Oh and by the way, I could use some empathy, too, if any of that is flying around loose out there.  This is not – I repeat not! – the time for this.  If there ever is a time.  Maybe Bugs is picking up on my anxiety hysteria.  We have two more months of this bar-exam grind to get through.  At this point, we’re in DefCon Three, Condition Red rapidly approaching.

OK.  The prime suspects:

Chicken-jerky treats.  I cook and dry these by hand, from human-grade air-chilled (but not organic) breast-meat.  Bugsy might get a scant handful of these per day.  I have stopped these, as of post-vet late yesterday afternoon.  Has not yet appeared to make any difference.  He’s worse this morning.

Also some chicken baby-food, used only occasionally as an extra-special treat.  Ditto stoppage.  Ditto no improvement perceptible yet.

Turkey diet.  Home-made, only for this I use organic.  Also included is sweet potato and oatmeal, ditto homemade.  Varied from time to time with organic grass-fed beef and lamb.  The latter two don’t appear temporally related to this outbreak.

Balance-It dietary supplement.  From UC Davis Veterinary.  Surely not this.  Ingredients a long, long list of vitamins and minerals, almost all of them recognizable.  Exception:  Cystine and methionine.  Taurine and choline I recognize.

Advantage flea-treatment (awright, pesticide, let’s call it what it is).  Please don’t let it be this.  Frontline doesn’t work for our fleas over here.  When one flea appeared on April 23, I applied the first Advantage of the season.  This was around one week after the condition first appeared.  One more application on May 25, around one week before condition started galloping as of yesterday.  As of May 26, only one drunken flea observed, staggering around in a debilitated condition.  As of yesterday, vet ruled out allergy to fleas themselves, due to complete absence of any flea traces on Bugs.

Salve I’ve been using to try to treat him.  Salve had good results in the past with the acne; not now.  Now it has no effect.  So it’s history as well.  Here’s an ingredients list:  Olive oil, organic chaparral leaf, comfrey leaf, echinacea flower, hops flower, usnea moss, beeswax, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, vit. E oil, and some essential oils including lemon, lemon grass, lavender, tea tree, & cajaput.  Cajaput?


Trace remains of yoghurt, once I finish my daily oatmeal and let him lick the bowl.  Discontinued as of this morning.

Battle-wounds from fights with Barney, exacerbated by Bugs’s scratching.

* Liver-treat fail.  Last week I used organic grass-fed liver to cook and dry jerky treats.  Boys threw these up.  Then they went moldy.  The treats, not the boys.  So treats are now history, for reasons unrelated to Bugs’s skin-entity but I include these for completeness.

No suspicious home-cleaning agents.  My home doesn’t get cleaned.

That’s about all I can think of.  Anybody?

And now for pictures.  I’ll start with one from a couple of weeks ago, in happier days.  Followed by happy Barney.  For those of you who want to hang on to your breakfasts, you can take a powder when you see the pansies-in-the-early-morning-light, and thank you for hanging in this far.  The gory bit follows the flowers.

allergy 001-cropHappier Days

allergy 003-cropHappy Barney

allergy 004-cropPansies In Early-Morning Light

And now, for those of you still with me, here’s the gory bit.  Brace for impact.  And thank you in advance for your care.

allergy2 002-cropallergy 005-cropallergy3-crop


About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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27 Responses to Bugs’s Skin : Help! Avert Steroids!

  1. lahgitana says:

    Oh dear. Poor everybody. I’d skritch *your* head if I could.

    I think you’ve answered the pertinent question: what changed? The list of answers is very short.

    Bugs has always reacted to high emotion, has he not? A very sensitive guy. Doesn’t make the wounds any less real. Topical steroids? Cone of shame? Warm compresses? Asked the vets at UC Davis? You had good results at one time?

    What does Barney make of this?

    Together: exha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-le. When’s the last time you capered around dancing in your socks, with the boys watching you, stealing quick glances at one another?!

    Big hugs…. I will check back….

  2. The red ink says it all. Whatever it is is made worse by stress, the body/mind connection in both of you. Breathe. Some Reiki for Bugs wouldn’t hurt.

  3. Dianda says:

    Oh, that looks nasty! Bugs, what have you been doing?!
    I believe cats pick up on our emotions very well. I know that when I feel complete shit, Hiro will too and his knee he had an operation on will act up.
    If it’s possible, I would avoid giving him any of the possible causes and give him the cone of shame. This way he can’t touch it and it may heal. (I hope?)

  4. Marcy Benham says:

    Ooooo, poor Bugs, poor Anita! Get the cortizone shot for him…that’s my vote. If you can slow down the itching, the spot can start to heal while you sort out allergy sources, maybe do an elimination diet? I hate steroids as much as the next all natural gal, but when my pet is suffering from bad itchies, I does give immediate and lasting relief. My vet said food allergies in animals usually result from having overexposure to the same source of protein. Her idea was to feed an unusual source of protein like duck or lamb but to avoid chicken and turkey since both are so prevalent in pet foods. I’m not a great cat mom like you are…I buy my pet foods instead of cooking them myself, but I do try to buy unique sources of protein for them.

    The salve sounds pretty good…chaparral would be an antifungal, echinacea would be the antiviral, comfrey would be skin soothing. My only other suggestion, and one that I’ve had fantastic luck with my dogs in the past, would be homeopathics. Of course, the closer you can match the skin condition symptoms to the remedy, the better. Homeopathics are fab because the worst thing that can happen is that they don’t work. And they’re not expensive to buy, either.

    I have a book on homeopathy for pets if you’d like to borrow it. I have HUGE empathy for you on this one, dear!! I’ve had pets with skin issues, one of my dogs has one right now. It’s VERY frustrating to deal with and I feel very helpless in the face of their misery when it’s happening. My heart goes out to you and the boys. And lagitana is right…remember to breathe, for your and Bugs’ sake both!!

  5. Cody gets the EXACT SAME THING. The vet originally thought it was due to a food allergy, now we are inclined to think that it is SEASONAL allergies or something in the environment. We do treat it with prednisonal or a steroid shot, but some bloggers are saying that coconut oil works too. Anyway, I blogged about this just last week http://opcatchat.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-crisis-averted.html

  6. BTW after reading the above comment, Cody has been on a vet prescribed diet (for a few years)….just rabbit by Royal Canin and STILL gets these

  7. looloo says:

    This made me think of “sint Catherine wheels”, I don’t know if you know these…

    Twenty years ago, our dogs regularly suffered from this.

    But if it was that, I guess the vet would have thought of this, no?

    Good luck for your bar exams and good luck for poor Bugs!

    Smoochies to all of you!

  8. Melanie says:

    Thomas gets seasonal allergies that cause him to rip big bleeding chunks out of himself every fall. I hate steroids, but I’ll get him a shot for this, just to soothe him. We usually only need to give him one a season, so it’s not THAT bad. I’m afraid I’m a bit blank on more natural remedies, though. 😦

  9. CATachresis says:

    Ooooh! You have all my empathy! I immediately thought coconut oil, and then saw Caren mentioned it! You might not be able to stand the smell though! I have not had any experience of this with my own cats so far, but do hope you can destress! Hysteria is so tiring!! Will be checking back to see what works! xx

  10. Oldcat says:

    It looks a lot like the wounds Gus had when the through the skin medicine was giving him a rash and making him itch. The wounds are probably from him rubbing his head on things to scratch the itches.

    Cystine is just an amino acid, one of the building blocks for proteins in the body.

    Years and years ago I had a young cat that got a bad rash from a flea collar and scratched her neck bloody. Cortizone helped with that, and I put the top of a sock around her to keep her from scratching the scabs.

  11. Anne d says:

    One course of cortisone will relieve the itching and hopefully allow the sores to heal. I would worry more about long term steroid use. My 16 year old girl has had the occasional cortisone shot with no bad sequelae. Cher, pauve bête. As we say here in Louisiana. Hope he is better soon.

  12. Hmmm, allergies? could be. Could be seasonal too, if he has had this before around the same time of year. My allergy cat always gets a bit itchier in the early summer and all fall.

    Steroids aren’t the worse thing to worry about, a short course that tapers down in dose for about 2 to 3 weeks of prednisolone would help get everything under control. Oral steroids are preferable to injectable in general, I’d avoid the cortisone shot if I could. In general short and infrequent courses of steroids aren’t a problem, you start getting into the nasty side effects when you keep them on it for months at a time. Another thing you can consider is trying daily antihistamines. Ask your vet for their recommendation, but I use either chlorpheniramine 2mg twice daily or plain Zyrtec 5 mg (1/4 tablet) once daily while the trees are in bloom around my house. This seems to prevent the breakouts in my cat. Since poor Bugs in already in full force itchy mode the steroids would help get things reined in while you start the antihistamine treatment.

    also, while I doubt that the Advantage is the culprit you could consider switching to Revolution, it has been proven much safer and more effective than either Frontline or Advantage (and wouldn’t you know it, my allergy kitty has had a bad reaction to Frontline before too.)

    So far as his food is concerned, he may have slight food allergies and slight pollen allergies, so when you combine the two you get big allergic breakouts like this. Try limiting him to only one protein, and I’m serious here, the littlest cheating totally invalidates the food trial. So if you decided to go all turkey, that is it for protein. Just turkey. This means reading labels obsessively and avoiding anything that says “poultry” since it isn’t just turkey. You can’t do turkey AND chicken. Also remember fat isn’t protein, so if there is fat from a different animal than what you are using for protein this is OK for the trial, but not ideal. the food trial should last for 6 to 8 weeks, if no improvement, try a different one for 6 to 8 weeks. It takes at least 6 weeks to get a protein out of the system, so at the end of the trial symptoms should subside. In a perfect world you’d use a novel protein he has never had before but given how so many boutique food companies are using the proteins that used to be in the vet diets it can sometimes be hard to find something really unique, of course if all you usually buy is the fish-poultry-beef stuff it makes it easier for you to find a unique protein without going to the vet diets (my own cat is on rabbit, and I buy goat chops to make her snacks with).

    Sorry this is so long, since I have a cat with both allergies and hyperesthesia, and I work in the vet med field ( in a cat only hospital to boot) I can’t help but try to fit the whole allergy spiel into one comment.

    Good luck, and I hope the Bugs feels better soon.

  13. rena1021 says:

    Oh dear… get well soon, Bugs and Anita! (Hey, if he feels bad, you do, too, don’t say you don’t!) I’d suggest homeopathics as well, though my cats haven’t had allergies or skin conditions. The stuff works and is easier to administer than some of the “regular” medications… Good luck in finding the culprit!

  14. minlit says:

    Looks like the time Stripey had to have the lemonectomy. Fight bite caused infection, killed off surface skin. Spread pretty quick, needed to be cut out (in shape of a lemon, hence the op title 😉 ) and treated with antibiotics. Hair fell off cos skin beneath was no longer viable. Hope he recovers quickly. Stripey also has some kind of skin condition which leads him to pull out hair until he’s nearly bald along his right flank. It tends to come and go. Hard to know what to do. Good luck.

  15. Wazeau says:

    I’ve nothing to add but best wishes for a speedy recovery and some stress-relief.

  16. Kitties Blue says:

    May we suggest you visit the blog: http://twinkletoetails.blogspot.com. Mica Mini Moo seems to have the same problem. Maybe collaboration could help each of you solve this problem for your beloved kitties. Good Luck! Purrs and hugs from the kitties at The Cat on My Head, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

  17. Basil says:

    Paw paw bugs. Cysteine and methionine are amino acids which are the basis for protein so I would be surprised if these are causing the problem. Looks like steroids may be the best thing to get it cleared up, as your vet recommends, and then once you have had your initial treatment and it starts to look better continue with your exclusion testing. Other than that I am afraid I can’t help much other than to send bugs a big hug!

  18. FeyGirl says:

    Cocount oil is FANTASTIC for so many things… Truly! But for all things SKIN, seriously look into VETERICYN (http://vetericyn.com/). You can get it on Amazon, Petco, etc. It’s been around forever, but they’ve brought it back. All-natural, and great for horses, cats, dogs, birds, PEOPLE. 🙂 Works like a charm for EVERYTHING. You’ll be amazed. I’ve pushed it on so many people with their animals’ serious skin issues, with beautiful results – no drugs needed.

  19. Annie Barrett says:


  20. Purrrss to Bugs. We have nothing to add to the many suggestions.

    Hang in there, kittie.

  21. Ouch! Poor Bugsy! As somecat that has recently googled feline fuzz loss in depth, I suggest you google as well. Cats lose their fur in specific patterns for various types of allergies or skin conditions… My money is on a scrape or bump that has been overgroomed and become infected, though. I prescribe LOTS of brushing and grooming to reduce Bugs’ stress and hopefully keep him from scratching at it or rubbing…

  22. I don’t have any advice for the skin condition because I’ve (thankfully) not experienced that with any of my cats. But I sure do send you all healing purrs and pawsitive thoughts.. It looks awful in the photo so I can only imagine how stressed it makes you to see it up close and personal. I do hope you get it figured out soon; your methodology seems quite thorough, so I am sure you will. Big hugs. And thanks for coming by the RPO blog today.

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  24. jimmie chew says:

    oh wow, that looks like it hurts, poor baby, i hope you figure out what did that. 😦

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