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C2008-48

Dear Christopher Cat

The hair between my cat Zoey’s eyes and ears is sparse, and the skin is turning yellow. I feed her whatever dry and canned foods are on sale at the grocery store.

Is her yellow skin related to her sparse hair or her diet, and is it a problem? Her appetite is waning, so I need to try a new food anyway. What brand do you suggest?

Christopher Responds

Zoey’s yellow skin may be a sign of jaundice, also called icterus, which is unrelated to her sparse hair. The jaundice is indeed a problem, and it warrants immediate veterinary attention.

You also may see the yellow tone when you look at Zoey’s gums and the whites of her eyes.

The yellow tint may result from the backup of bile into the blood stream, where it is deposited in tissues throughout the body. Normally, bile is secreted by the liver into the intestines to help digest fats.

Alternatively, the discoloration may result from the breakdown of red blood cells and release of their yellow pigment. If this is the case, you’ll notice Zoey’s gums are pale yellow, rather than yellowish-pink.

Either of these conditions can lead to appetite loss and, without treatment, death. So make an appointment with your veterinarian today.

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