The Animal Doctor

Balding Cat

DEAR DR. FOX: I find myself in need of advice concerning our 11-year-old shorthair domestic tuxedo cat. At her last physical a few months ago, the vet said everything was fine except for thinning hair on her shoulders, where there's just a kind of downy fuzz instead of her black fur. The previous year, her thyroid test was normal.

The vet ran two tests on our cat's fur: One was checking for mites or similar, and I can't remember the other one. I recall she used a special light and magnifier, and she took a few hairs to check under the microscope. She said everything looked normal, and she couldn't give any explanation for why our cat's fur was not growing. She recommended Nupro supplements, which apparently had given good results for other patients. But after a few months, we still don't see any improvement.

We have never seen our cat over-grooming or licking in those particular areas. She's an indoor cat and is not exposed to anything outdoors. The thinning is on her shoulders only, though her front legs are showing a very little thinning. She eats Wellness CORE for indoor adult cats, and we give her the occasional Greenies treats for dental health as well as Greenies Bites for Skin and Fur. Her litter box production seems normal.

Because she's somewhat overweight, we take her to be groomed two or three times a year because she has difficulty reaching her rear end to clean it, so it gets shaved. She also gets her nails clipped.

Since her last rear-end shave in November, the fur there has not grown back. So it's not just her shoulders, but presumably anywhere fur is removed somehow that there's no regrowth.

What can be causing this? Do you have any suggestions as to how to encourage fur growth again? She does suffer from dandruff -- always has, and nothing's helped. -- K.H., Washington, D.C.

DEAR K.H.: Since your veterinarian has wisely tested for thyroid disease and possible ringworm, I would consider the possibility of a chronic nutritional deficiency in omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Many dogs and cats show significant improvement in coat density and luster and reduction of dandruff after two to three months of appropriate dietary supplementation with fish oil. Provided your cat is not allergic to fish, one canned sardine a day may suffice. I would avoid all dry cat foods and canned foods that have rice and barley. There are freeze-dried and frozen cat foods in some stores now that provide good nutrition, and my cat food recipe (posted on my website, may offer a long-term solution.


A newly filed lawsuit alleges that a national pet store chain engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell sick puppy mill dogs to consumers at premium prices based on fraudulent health guarantees.

From the Animal Legal Defense Fund: "The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, announced the filing of a nationwide consumer class action lawsuit against Petland, a national pet store chain, and the chain’s Kennesaw, Georgia, location. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleging Petland violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and Georgia RICO Act."

From the ALDF's Executive Director Stephen Wells: “Puppy mills put the bottom line ahead of the health and well-being of the animals, while Petland profits at the expense of its consumers and the sick puppies it peddles to them.”

For more details, visit

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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