Why Does Hair Loss in Cats Occur?
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Is your cat experiencing hair fall? Does the hair loss look alarming? Perhaps those bald skin patches tell that your favorite furry friend is in distress. There are many different causes of hair loss in cats, some of which are serious and can cause irritation and misery for your kitty, while others may be normal. Some of the common signs of hair loss in cats include red, bumpy skin around the site of hair loss. It may be in a random or symmetrical form.
Many diseases and conditions can cause hair fall in cats, including:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Congenital and inherited skin condition
- Medication side effect
Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Cats
A complete physical examination will help the veterinarian do a detailed diagnosis of hair loss in your furry friend. Careful attention is paid to the size, location, and shape of hair loss if any other condition is suspected. The vet may obtain a detailed medical history of the kitty.
They may need to establish if your furry feline has experienced any other symptoms, besides itching and scratching. They may also enquire whether the kitty was on any medication therapy recently.
Skin scrapes may have to be analyzed for a proper diagnosis. Your kitty may require a blood serum chemistry panel to determine any hormonal imbalances. The vet may recommend various imaging tools to rule out signs of serious abnormalities. If a skin issue is suspected as a cause of hair loss, a skin biopsy may be done.
Some diagnostic tests may include:
- Trichogram–It is amicroscopic examination that involves plucking of hair from roots in different parts of the scalp. The vet examines the root.
- Fungus culture–The test is done to identify a particular fungal infection or ringworm.
- Food elimination trial–In order to check a food allergy in cat, the veterinarian will place the kitty on a food trial, lasting anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks. The vet will recommend a diet for your cat. This will include food that she has never had before. You should not give her any food other than the prescribed diet during this period. This also includes avoiding any nutrients, vitamins, minerals and even chewable medications. If the symptoms of allergy disappear after this period, then your cat is suffering from a food allergy. In that case, she will be put on this prescription diet, as her food has been diagnosed as the cause of allergy.
- Blood tests – The vet may require some blood samples of your kitty to check if she is suffering from hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome.
- Skin scrapings– The vet may study the kitty’s skin scraping under a microscope to look for mite infestation that causes mange.
Causes of Feline Hair Loss
Does your feline baby look a little less furry? She may suffer from hair loss, which may be partial or complete.
- Older cats suffering from cancer may experience hair loss.
- Cats may suffer hair loss due to nervous disorders.
- Hormonal imbalances may cause hair loss in cats.
- There may be skin allergies, resulting in hair fall.
- Some parasitic mites may cause a skin disease in cats, known as mange, which may result in hair loss
- Fungal issues, such as ringworm, may cause alopecia in cats.
- Hereditary factors may also result in feline hair fall.
Hair loss in cats and hyperthyroidism are connected. In fact, the disorder of the thyroid gland in which the gland becomes underactive is the leading cause of hair fall in cats. Medicated therapy prescribed by a vet helps control the condition.
Although hypothyroidism is not as common as hyperthyroidism, it does affect a few members of the feline community and could be responsible for causing hair loss in cats. Due to hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amount of thyroid hormones, which affects metabolism and growth in cats. This further leads to hair loss, sudden weight gain, extreme tiredness, and lethargy.
Your kitty may experience hair loss from flea allergy. A cat infested with flea experiences intense itching. She will try to reach out to any lengths to scratch the agitated skin. This may include biting off hair in areas that itch.
Food or environmental allergy may also contribute to alopecia in cats. A kitty with an allergic reaction often experiences severe itching, scratching, and hair loss. When the allergen is identified, the vet may suggest eliminating the trigger from your feline baby’s diet or environment. The vet may prescribe medication for allergy.
This is a type of bacterial infection in which the kitty’s skin is traumatized from biting and scratching. As a result of the infection, the kitty experiences localized hair loss. There may be pus discharge from the wounds.
The vet will try to look for the cause of the bacterial infection before putting your cat on a medication therapy. Great care is necessary to ensure the discharge site remains clean, which is necessary to promote healing.
It is normal for cats to shed dead hair throughout the year. While some cats experience heavy seasonal shedding, some others may not have too much hair fall. A kitty that experiences normal shedding will not have bald patches. If patches appear, the reason for hair loss in cats could be a health condition.
Stress or Shock
If a kitty is in stress or shock due to a major illness or surgery, she may experience hair fall. She may be stressed due to a change in her environment, such as a new home or new furniture. Some cats are sensitive enough to the arrival of a new baby. Some others feel stressed when owners bring a new pet home. Even grief, resulting from the loss of a companion, could make a cat stressed.
It is normal for most pregnant cats to experience hair loss. Some others may have hair fall while lactating. The reason could be a change in hormones or hormonal imbalance. In that case, the fur typically grows back after a short period.
Treatment of Hair Loss in Cats
Consult your vet when your kitty shows severe signs of hair fall. The treatment will depend on the cause of the feline hair loss. The vet may recommend:
- Ointment or topical treatment
- Behavioral therapy
- Dietary advice and supplementation therapy