I was up for hours last night with my 4-year-old kitty, Priscilla. I am exhausted. So is she.


This is what happened: a couple of afternoons ago, Priscilla was sleeping on our bed with a couple of our other cats. As usual. When I walked into the room at one point, she turned over on her back and stretched out…and I stopped for a second to scratch her tummy. Almost immediately I noticed an area that had no hair on it. A hairless pink spot. YIKES! I called the vet immediately and made an appointment for the following day (=yesterday).


I will shorten this long story: the vet reassured us that she is healthy as can be and that what she has is probably something called psychogenic alopecia. This is an obsessive compulsive disorder, which has roots in anxiety, boredom or stress. I thought only people got OCD. Well, you always learn something new…  


Priscilla has always been a peculiar little cat–a bit wild but also very affectionate. Throughout the years, she has exhibited small signs of obsessive behaviour that I ascribed to her childhood traumas, about which I wrote a post some time ago. But alopecia? Stefano and I (and my parents, who have a huge soft spot for Priscilla) were completely taken aback. And no, we haven’t made any recent changes in the household, no new cats, blablabla. We simply can’t explain this… 


At any rate, the vet prescribed an Elizabethan collar (this horrible contraption prevents her from licking the sore spot on her tummy) and an antibiotic…now, have you ever given an antibiotic to a fierce tiger in the wild? Well, that’s what we are going to do in about a half hour. In fact, I asked the vet yesterday if I could wear the e-collar and take the antibiotic instead of Priscilla, but apparently it doesn’t work that way. Sigh.


The e-collar, as predicted, drove and drives her nuts. I have never seen a more upset cat in my life. By 5 am I had had enough. I just couldn’t bear to watch her dashing around the house, bumping into things, trembling, panting, trying to hide and so on…and almost took the bloody thing off. But no, the vet had told us to be strong. And so did my cousin, to whom I turned for help early this morning. (Like yours truly, he adores cats. Unlike yours truly, he has heaps of experience with pill-giving, e-collars and so on.)


So, okay, we are being strong. Not easy, I tell ya! But, after my restless night (I should note that while I was up and down the stairs following a very noisy and distraught Priscilla, Stefano was fast asleep…no comment…!), in mid morning, when Priscilla calmed down a bit and I finally went back to bed, Stefano managed to give her a bite to eat and some water. Such a relief.

Anyway, if I don’t post much in the next few days or answer your e-mails, at least you know that I am either trying to console my unhappy cat or giving her a pill. Ma porca miseria, questa non ci voleva!

Update: I had no problem giving Priscilla the antibiotic just now. I crunched it up and mixed it with a dab of the fur ball remover gunk that all my cats adore (with the exception of Puzzola, our eldest). She licked my finger clean. Phew!


  1. It took Jasper 12 hours to figure out how to get that funnel off and then only 2 minutes. Hope your kitty does not figure it out! Good luck!

  2. How to Give a Pill to a Cat

    1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

    2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

    3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

    4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

    5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

    6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

    7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered Doulton figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

    8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

    9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

    10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

    11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

    12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.

    13. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed, force cat’s mouth open with small wrench. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet mignon. Hold head vertically and pour ½ pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

    14. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture store on way home to order new table.

  3. One of our cats did the same. He overgroomed the fur on his belly until bald spots appeared. But then he suddenly stopped doing it, and the fur grew back. I guess something in his circumstances changed so that the psychological need for the overgrooming disappeared.

  4. Most overgrooming ends up being a parasite problem, so make sure that’s covered.

    If it is a skin problem, why not mix up a turmeric/water paste and apply. Have done that before

  5. Hi Margaret,
    I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a while now and wanted speak up to tell you that we had a family cat who had the same thing problem as Priscilla. Our doctor called it Feline Neurosis but it sounds like the same thing. Patches started pulling the hair off her tail after her brother died, plus my father decided she shouldn’t be allowed on her favorite table anymore. The vet gave us something to put on her bald spots to keep her from licking them and told us to treat her gently, and that she would get over it. (no collar) But he added that when she had another trauma, she’d probably start pulling her hair out again. We let her back on the table, and I guess her life was calm after that because she never had another episode. Good luck with Priscilla.

  6. Good luck with your kitty.. and wishing you sleep-full nights!
    Our kitty occasionally.. .like last night… likes to get her head scritched around 2 or 3 AM. She comes up on my pillow to get it.

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