Have you ever noticed your cat constantly scratching? Have you ever noticed your fur-baby friend having bald patches? Licking their fur is normal for cats. They usually do this to clean themselves—to remove dirt and odor from their body. However, this behavior may become obsessive causing hair loss, skin sore, or infection.
In this article, we will talk about cat hair loss, the many common reasons why this happens to your fur-baby, and preventive ways and treatment plans to bring back your cat’s fabulous coat!
"Cat hair loss may appear in different patterns and may be partial or complete. The skin surrounding the area may look completely normal, while in some cats, it may have some bumps, redness, and flaky skin."
Defining Hair Loss in Cats
To better understand the different causes of cat hair loss, let us first define hair loss in cats. According to PetMD, cat hair loss, also known as cat alopecia, is a common problem in most cats. Cat hair loss may appear in different patterns and may be partial or complete. The skin surrounding the area may look completely normal, while in some cats, it may have some bumps, redness, and flaky skin.
What Causes Hair Loss in Cats?
A variety of factors can contribute to cat hair loss and it’s important to have your fur-baby checked immediately by the vet to determine the reason behind your cat’s condition and to spot any signs of possible illness as soon as possible.
Skin Allergy. Like humans, your cat may have allergic reactions to environmental irritants (such as pollen and dust mites), food, medicines, and even to grooming products. Allergies in cats show when a cat’s body reacts to particular substances in the environment.
Allergies come with different negative effects, like sneezing, coughing, and itching! Allergies cause your cat to excessively scratch or lick to ease the itch. It’s important to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s skin allergy to be able to treat it. Cat skin allergies are relatively easy to treat.
Parasites. Parasites like ticks, fleas, and mites can cause itchiness, inflammation, and wounds that may eventually lead to hair loss and bald patches. Just like cat skin allergies, hair loss due to parasites is relatively easy to treat if given proper medical care.
Ringworm Infection. Despite its name, ringworm infection in cats, also called “feline dermatophytosis” is a fungal infection caused by a particular type of fungus that can grow on your cat’s skin. Cats get infected with ringworm when they are exposed to infective spores through contact with an infected cat or other contaminated objects or environment. Once diagnosed, treatment will typically involve the intake of anti-fungal drugs or the application of topical antifungal medications to the infected areas.
Thyroid problems. Cats are also predisposed to developing hyperthyroidism. This is a condition where your fur-baby’s thyroid glands may grow some abnormal tissues and produce too much thyroid hormone causing bodily functions to speed up. They are also prone to hypothyroidism, a condition where your cat’s thyroid no longer not creates and releases enough thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. Bald patches can be a symptom of both diseases, which can be diagnosed by your vet through blood tests.
Psychogenic Alopecia. Psychogenic Alopecia, also called “psychological baldness” or most commonly known as “over-grooming” is a compulsive behavior causing in cats that usually occurs whenever they are in a constant state of stressful situations.
In cats that develop this, according to Vet Help Direct, stress triggers the over-grooming behavior. Cats overgroom as a means of coping with their stress and anxiety because of the self-soothing outcome that it presents. Whenever your fur-baby licks themselves during these situations, endorphins—which are natural "feel good" hormones—are released by the brain, making the sensation of self-grooming feel comforting. Behavioral and medical therapies are common treatments for this.
Genes. Cats may develop thinning of hair and bald patches as a result of hereditary conditions. Hair loss in cats brought about by genetics may occur all over the body, but it often emerges in patterns, such as being associated with hair color or not affecting the limbs. The MSD Veterinary Manual articulates that hereditary hair loss may also be linked with abnormal teeth, claws, and eyes, or with skeletal and other developmental deficiencies. While there is no known cure for this, a cat’s hair is likely to grow back if managed properly.
If cat hair loss is evident in your fur-baby, do a thorough examination of the bald or hairless area and its surrounding skin and take note. The following are also recommended for every pet parent:
- See to it that your cat’s toys, scratch posts, or blankets are not contributing to the issue by being too rough on their fur. Choose only quality pet products, like Pet Parents® Pawtect® Blankets. These waterproof premium pet blankets are made with our special faux fur fabric and our proprietary Sherpup® multi-layer material that is the coziest fabric around.
- Worried about fur getting on your furniture? Our Pawtect® Blankets also help protect your furniture from scratches, messes like drools, leaks, and yes, fur!
- Brush your cat’s fur! One or two brushings per week will greatly benefit your fur-baby and keep her coat’s healthy glow. Regular brushing sessions are exceptionally advantageous when your cat ages and is no longer able to groom so properly on their own.
If cat hair loss is not getting better, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and the right treatment plan. They may prescribe a safe topical treatment to provide relief from pain and itching. If you can curb their scratching of the inflamed skin, your cat has a better chance of healing that hair loss.
"See to it that your cat’s toys, scratch posts, or blankets are not contributing to the issue by being too rough on their fur. Choose only quality pet products, like Pet Parents® Pawtect® Blankets. "
Treating cat hair loss greatly depends on the cause. If it is caused by a medical disorder, topical therapy—intake of anti-fungal drugs, and systematic therapy—application of topical antifungal medications to the infected areas are available for treatment.
If the hair loss is due to a behavioral issue, your vet may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist who can help in identifying the factors that are causing stress to your cat—that eventually leads to cat hair loss, and will provide you with some advice on how to reduce it.