Hair loss in cats (alopecia) can happen for several reasons, so zeroing in on the cause might take some work. In today's blog, you will learn about the possible causes of hair loss in cats and what you can do about it.
Some Hair Loss Are Considered Normal
Specialists claim that alopecia in cats can be complete or partial. It happens for various reasons, the most common of which is allergies.
Some cats have hereditary alopecia—Sphynx cats are examples of this, as they are born without hair.
Another common cause of hair loss is pinnal alopecia, which is characterized by a loss of hair outside of the ear pinnae. This is a common condition in Siamese cats but usually goes away independently. Adult cats can also experience preauricular alopecia, characterized as the thinning of fur on the skin between the eyes and the ears. This is normal in cats.
For the rest of the populace born with fur, having alopecia is usually a symptom of an illness or problem, not a disease itself. You should be able to find an underlying cause.
Causes of Acquired Alopecia
Feline hair loss may have fungal and parasitic reasons, such as ringworm, mites, or flea allergic reactions. Food allergies are another reason. Metabolic issues like hyperthyroidism can also cause hair loss in cats. In some cats, discomfort due to urinary tract infections may cause excessive grooming, resulting in hair loss. Here are six common reasons for alopecia in cats:
1. Allergies, Itch, and Over-Grooming
Some cats are hypersensitive to the antigens in the flea saliva, which may cause a bad itch if they get fleas. Additionally, most cats will over-groom as a way to alleviate the itchiness. Licking pulls hair out, so overdoing it can lead to hair loss. More than half of cats with alopecia are caused by over-grooming.
Some cats may be unable to control their grooming habits due to neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage in the skin. More uncommon is cats overgrooming due to psychogenic reasons like anxiety. However, most cats that lick their hair are caused by flea allergies.
Manage, scabies and lice can also cause itch and bring about the same over-grooming habits. Mites, allergies, and environmental allergens can cause over-grooming and hair loss.
Sometimes, a feline will excessively lick a part of the body, not because it's itchy but because something underneath the skin is hurting. A feline suffering from arthritis may lick at the throbbing joint because it is painful, and licking helps to alleviate the pain.
3. Endocrine Issues
Cushing's disease is a metabolic disorder that makes the body produce high amounts of cortisol, which might cause alopecia in felines. Outside of the thyroid, if cats have hormonal imbalances and high amounts of steroids present in the body, hair follicles might die. A cat losing hair may have hyperthyroidism, which also causes weight changes.
This isn't as common as allergies, but it happens. Felines with staph and fungal infections like ringworm might lose hair in the impacted areas.
5. Side Effects of Medication
Transdermal prednisone is known to cause alopecia. In most cases, stopping the medication administration will reverse the alopecia.
The good news is that cancer cells are hardly ever why a cat loses hair. An overwhelming number of hair loss in cats is not caused by something significant. However, neoplasia—abnormal growths due to cancer—can cause hair loss in cats. A major problem that happens due to cancer is paraneoplastic alopecia, described as hair loss related to itching and moist skin. Nevertheless, these serious reasons are scarce.
Talking to the Vet
You can talk to your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of hair loss. What usually happens is that they conduct tests such as complete blood work, thyroid check, and urinalysis. These are performed to eliminate any metabolic causes of hair loss.
Minimize Cat Anxiety
If your cat's laboratory results are normal, you may be at a loss on what to do next. Because psychogenic alopecia is caused by stress and anxiety, you can reduce stressful situations. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Put perches and cat trees in optimal places, such as before a window. This may help your cat to express its natural propensity to rest in high areas and watch the world from above.
- Provide access to closed spaces like cardboard boxes to satisfy their privacy needs.
- Play with her utilizing interactive toys, like feather sticks, to stimulate the hunting nature of cats. Play also helps her burn off excess energy.
- Try other enrichment activities like spreading kibble around to urge the cat to "hunt" for her food, giving the cat grass or catnip, or feeding the cat with puzzle toys.
Will The Hair Ever Grow Back?
As mentioned, hair loss in cats is rarely caused by serious health problems, and the hair can grow back. Usually, if the underlying cause is identified and rectified, the hair will grow back. This is especially in cases of over-grooming related to allergies. So, if you notice your cat is suffering from rapid hair loss, it is worth a journey to the veterinarian.
These are 6 of the most common conditions behind a pet cat losing hair. Note that this is a limited listing, as alopecia in felines is a broad problem with many possible aspects.