Before you worry, I'll let you know that there is nothing terribly wrong with Minion. Now let me back up a bit and explain.
Since our cats are indoor cats, we've never taken them to the vet past their baby checkups and shots and getting them spayed or neutered. If something in particular came up, we'd take them, but in general, no. We didn't keep up on annual checkups or regular shots. Well after Tripper died this spring of something preventable, and after recently discovering Lynx's thyroid condition, it had been nagging at me to get the cats on regular vet schedules. I'd gotten a reminder card for Minion's distemper booster just before Lynx's troubles were discovered. And more recently I'd gotten a reminder card for Minion's rabies booster. The thing that made me finally make an appointment though is that Minion's heels have gone nearly bald... again.
Minion is four years old. I don't remember when it started but I'd say that for at least half of his life he's struggled with loosing hair on his heels. We didn't think too much of it because there didn't seem to be anything else wrong. At time the hair would seem to be coming back, other times it looked like it was going away again. For a while, maybe early this year (?), they were REALLY bald and the area was much larger. That was rather alarming. I think that's when I started wondering about the cat food. Lynx was also sick then and we were desperate to get some weight back on him so we switched their food back to Purina Kitten Chow. We knew there was a risk of Minion getting fat, but if it helped Lynx we were willing to have a pudgy Minion.
The food switch did seem to work. Also around that time, I'd switched kitty litter. I was just tired of the brand I'd been using and wanted something that clumped a little better. I never thought anything of it. After we saw just how plump Minion was getting I started weaning them off Kitten Chow and onto regular Cat Chow. Some time around this was when we noticed one of the cats was peeing on the pile of dirty laundry that is in the laundry room, where the litter box also is. We assumed right away that it was Lynx just because he's old and had been having health issues. We tried different things and then I read online that it might just be a picky cat rebelling against new littler. Aha. Well I had changed the litter, hadn't I?! So we quickly switched back to the original litter I'd been using for years.
This whole process was weeks, months long. Not days. Somewhere in there we'd noticed that, hey, Minion's heels look totally healed and furry! Awesome!
We then found out Lynx's problems are thyroid related, which meant the litter was not a factor in any of this.
And now more recently we've noticed Minion's heels are going bald again. There is also a small bald patch on his belly. What the heck?! Enough is enough. I'd gotten the shot reminder cards, so I called the dang vet office and made an appointment. I asked the lady on the phone about the bald heels. She said it was probably sensitivity to something, maybe even something we're tracking into the house on our own shoes. She suggested wiping his feet and legs a couple times a day with baby wipes to see if that helped. She said she'd make a note for the vet to look at it and discuss it at the appointment. I'd figured all along it was a food sensitivity, but after getting off the phone it occurred to me . . . the litter?! I tried to think back to when we'd changed and when his heels were better, and did the times correspond? I'm not sure, but I think they do. We still had some of the 'new' litter left so I promptly put that in the litter box and decided to keep an eye on things.
Today was Minion's appointment. He had a wellness check, a distemper shot, and a rabies shot. The vet noticed the bald spot on the belly and looked at the bald heels a bit. (They're not actually bald, just very thin hair.) He seems to feel it might be more like stress or even seasonal. He said there are food trials we could do if I was really concerned. There are steroid shots that might help but he doesn't want to do that because the spots aren't *that* bad and because he's a young cat. I explained about the litter, and he agreed it could be the culprit but he still kept mentioning stress more. So we'll keep going with the 'new' litter and see if there is any difference.
It was pretty funny. Minion is very social cat, pretty laid back, not afraid when people come over or anything like that. But he was hissing and growling in the vet office! When he got one of his shots in the hip, he did this little angry whine type meow.
Ohhhh, Minion. You are quite a character.