A full, shiny coat of fur is a sign of a healthy cat. Similarly, if your cat loses a lot of hair and does it in the form of bald spots, it could be a sign of a health problem. The possible causes of hair loss in cats , called alopecia , are many, and diagnosing the condition that underlies the hair loss can take some time. You should work closely with your vet to identify the source of the problem.
Common causes can range from allergic reactions, hormonal imbalances to an infestation of some plague. Although the different causes can be difficult to pin down, most are fairly easy to address and remedy.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your cat could be losing a lot of hair and what can be done about it.
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What is hair loss in your cat?
The loss can be partial or total and at any age. The partial loss can be symmetric or with random patterns. In some cases, hair loss is localized to one or more specific areas known as hot spots. Veterinary diagnosis is necessary to identify the underlying cause of alopecia , it may be the indicator of a serious or life-threatening problem in the cat.
The veterinarian to whom we must go will carry out a physical examination, will take into account many factors, and will ask the following questions to give us a correct diagnosis:
- How long does the cat have this problem?
- Does your cat show any other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or loss of appetite?
- Is the problem all over your cat’s body or partially?
- Are there other pets or people in the house who have the same problem?
- Has there been a change in the cats’ diet or environment, such as the use of a new household cleaner?
Your vet will likely brush your cat’s hair for lice, dander, fleas. It may also:
- Take hair samples for analysis.
- Take blood tests or take a skin sample for a biopsy.
- Try a hypoallergenic diet.
It is important to treat the problem early and correctly to prevent things from getting worse.
Symptoms of alopecia
The loss of hair can appear in the form of bald spots or spread throughout the cat’s body, on other occasions it is shown in changes of the coat with excessive shedding or rough coat. Depending on the underlying cause, other symptoms may be observed, including those that are not related to hair loss . Namely:
- Hair loss.
- Lumps or blisters.
- Loss of skin
- Itching and scratching.
- Cysts or nodules
- Ulcers or open sores.
- Abnormal behavior
Causes of hair loss in cats
Multiple causes can have hair loss in cats . The to lopecia may be a sign of disease, infections, toxins, disorders, cancers, allergies or infestations. Hair loss that occurs at or shortly after birth is often associated with improper development in the womb or inherited disorders. Some of the more common causes of hair loss in cats and other companion animals include:
- External parasites.
- Thyroid problems.
- Genetic conditions
- Ringworm disease
This infection is caused by a fungus, microsporum canis , which affects the skin, hair and nails of the animals it parasites, feeds on the keratin found in these parts of the body causing among other symptoms that the hair “thin” or disappear completely.
Very contagious disease that can be transmitted by direct contact with the spores of the fungus.
Ringworm in cats can be detected by taking a sample of the skin and treatment usually involves the use of shampoos or other medications to restrict the growth of the fungus.
- Stress in the cat
Motivated by stress, the cat can sometimes groom and lick too often or even bite and chew on its own fur.
The stress in cats can be caused by:
- A major illness or surgery.
- A change in your environment, such as new decor or furniture. The arrival of a new baby or other pet.
- The loss of a partner. Yes, even cats can suffer grief for another pet, although it can manifest itself differently than it does in people.
Whenever you notice that your cat is licking itself excessively or for a long period, try to interrupt it, play with it, or give it a treat.
Also, if you think your cat might be suffering from stress, give her a little more attention in an effort to calm her down.
Like humans, cats can suffer from both environmental and food allergies . Reactions caused by contact with an allergen can lead to hair loss and other problems, such as dry skin and blisters.
Determining the exact source of an allergic reaction can be difficult. The vet can perform a series of skin tests to identify the cause. You can also try removing certain things from your cat’s play area to see if that has any effect; or slowly change the elements of your cat’s diet if you suspect that the allergy may be due to food.
If your cat is allergic to his food, you will have to change his diet little by little, so as not to alter his digestive system, in this case you can have good results with hypoallergenic cat food .
In the case of environmental sources, the vet may prescribe medications and treatments for topical or atopic allergy.
- External parasites
Parasites such as mites or fleas are a common cause of baldness in cats. Generally, the problem is due to your cat having a reaction to flea saliva with a reaction generally localized to the cat’s hindquarters.
Fortunately, the problem is usually fairly easy to treat with medicated lotions, and the hair will grow back as soon as the fleas or mites are gone . Get rid of fleas using flea shampoos and treatments. You can also treat itching and hair loss with corticosteroids or antihistamines.
- Thyroid disease
Thyroid problems in cats arise when the animal produces too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone. One of the symptoms is the development of bald spots. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be detected by blood tests.
Treating an overactive thyroid in cats is often fairly straightforward, using medications prescribed by a veterinarian, although, on rare occasions, surgery may be necessary.
- Genetic conditions
Some cats will lose hair due to a hereditary condition, although these are very rare situations. The alopecia universalis is it due to a congenital absence of hair, occurs in breeds like sphinx cat. The hereditary hipotricosis and alteration known com pili torti (especially weak hair), are exceptional.
Other factors that can lead to hair loss are pregnancy, leukemia, or medical treatment such as chemotherapy.
If your cat suffers noticeable hair loss, you should go to the vet to correct the causes and apply treatment if necessary.
As a very basic advice, try to periodically deworm your cat, you will prevent it from suffering from alopecia due to the presence of parasites on the skin such as fleas.
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