Wednesday, January 22, 2014

oh betty … oh itty bitty betty

oh itty bitty betty she has quite a fan club out there and we're long overdue for betty post - with a special shout out ! to both of her godmothers ;-)

Itty Bitty Betty has a new (with love) nickname - the hairless holstein.

I saved her most recent photo for the very end of this post as some of you may want to avert your eyes. She currently looks like a poorly clipped harlequin show poodle - it's that bad. Initially, the hair loss was mainly at the base of her tail, we were worried that it was a flea infection, allergy or possibly worse - mange or some other nearly microscopic parasitical thing. We took her to our favourite, longtime vet Dianne Stevens - who after cooing, oohing, ahhing & lovin' big time on Itty Bitty Betty for some time (Dianne is a crazy cat lady also) - pretty promptly said Nope ! it's caused by stress - Ya huh !! Itty Bitty Betty's nerves are bad, she's anxious and/or possibly bored and grooms, or over grooms, herself to accommodate this new neurosis.

Of course Mama's (moi) taking it very personally. I'm thinking Hey ! Betty we rescued you & spayed you sometime in early summer preventing the near monthly gang raping of you in our yard by every poor abandoned Tom for miles around & thus ending the ongoing cycle of new litters of kittens every month or so for you to try and Mother, we feed you well, we adore you, we do still let you outside during the day (when it's not too cold, too snowy, too icy or too dangerous), we provide you with warmth, comfort, shelter … and you thank us me by telling me your stressed !?!

Our vet thinks Betty has Feline Psychogenic Alopecea as she appears to be in every other respect as healthy as a holstein, her skin, which is so clearly visible now, is soft, supple, pink & healthy looking. She's not behaving at all like a stressed out cat, though there are the occasional huffing, puffing, tormenting events from the boys (Oliver & Virgil) but Betty seems to be holding her own and is in no way hiding, avoiding or running away from them. She has had a lot of major changes in her life (including hormonal/spaying) and I guess change is change - good or bad - it's still a different life for her. Our vet said to not worry about it … I'm considering knitting her a few outfits :-)

Stress in your cat’s life can provoke excessive grooming. This usually involves a change in your cat’s environment such as moving to a new home; a change in the owner’s schedule; the addition or subtraction of a family member, including other animals; aggression among cats in the household; moving furniture around; seeing a new animal outside; or boredom and frustration. In addition, you may be unaware of other stressors in your cat’s life. Self-grooming behavior relaxes cats, so when they become anxious, they may over-groom. Over time, the behavior becomes a habit-forming self-perpetuating cycle, and unrelated to the environmental or internal stressors. It evolves into a type of “compulsive behavior,” and may progress to extreme self-mutilation and self-aggression, signs often seen in feline hyperesthesia syndrome. It is a self-reinforcing behavior, involving the release of endorphins (happy hormones).


  1. Wonderful photos, as usual, Susan. Remember the Don had an over-grooming phase for some time, more than a year, and then it suddenly passed. My Shady also over-groomed her belly and back legs bare. In her case it was a flea allergy and went away after treatment with flea medication. I hope whatever is stressing Betty stops stressing her soon. In the meantime perhaps you can think of her as part Cornish rex.

  2. Don't know if you remember my dear old Robert, who lived to be at least 22 (we knew this because we'd owned him that long, but not his real age)? He nibbled bare wristlets/anklets and a bare tummy with the stress of being added to a well-established group. What worked best of all for him was being picked up when he started doing it, and gently stroked, then getting him settled down next to me where I could distract him if he started again - and it really, really worked! Sort of stimulating endorphins in a positive way, I guess. Hope lovely Betty gets over it soon.

  3. Bless her heart! She looks pretty laid back in these pictures. Looks like she settled in well. Maybe it's just the snow and cold weather that's stressing her. Maybe come spring and summer when it's nice and warm and she can roll in the grass and sunbathe in warm sunshine, she will be back to old self again. We will just call it the winter time blues. I'm feeling a little bit of that myself!!!

    PS. Your salads always look soooo good!

  4. Poor little kitty, and such a sweetie.
    Our cat hates and is terrified of any other cat - even seeing them outside puts her on edge. From being a stray who adopted us she has morphed into that rare thing - a cat who loves all doors to be firmly shut. The more closed doors between her and the outside world, the better, even when she is left in a room on her own. So different to our previous cat who hated to be indoors!

  5. Beautiful photos of Itty Bitty Betty, it is lovely to see her again. Poor little love, I feel for her and you dear Susan, it is upsetting to see this form of stress in a beloved pet. Emily, my cat who is 9 years old started to over-groom her tummy and inner thighs when my youngest son and his fiancee moved out. Her problem is stress related and I was at my wits end trying to find a cure. She has no fleas, mange, parasites, allergy, is an indoor cat, eats well, always seems happy, gets plenty of love and affection. After a lot of trial and error with tablets and skin preparations I now take her to see Kay our vet every six weeks where she has an injection of oestrogen and prednisone and I apply a spray of cortisone to her tummy and inner thighs daily. I have tried diverting her attention when the licking starts but this only works for a while. My vet has said that there is no cure, her condition can only be managed. I would not make her wear an Elizabethan collar to stop the licking as this would cause her more stress. I hope lil Betty will be alright and whatever is causing her stress will stop.
    Love to all and extra love to Betty.
    xoxoxo ♡