Is your Cat Losing a Lot of Hair?

By July 05 | See Comments

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Alopecia (hair loss) is one of the most common problems faced by cats. The hair loss can be complete or partial, and the patterns symmetrical or varied. Depending on the cause of the hair loss, there are a few treatment options, although limited.

Symptoms of alopecia

The most common signs of alopecia include total or partial hair loss. The skin surrounding the area with hair loss can look normal or might have bumps, redness, scabs or skin loss. Alopecia might present itself symmetrically or can appear randomly across the skin of your cat.

Common causes

You will need to consult with the vet to find out the exact reason behind your cat's hair loss. It could be due to:

  • Allergies – They are the number one cause of hair loss. Just like people, cats can be allergic to insect bites, food, dust, medicines or pollen. To make herself comfortable, your cat will lick the fur till there are bald patches. It is quite simple to treat, but you might have to give her medication for the rest of her life.
  • Parasites – Mites, fleas, ticks and lice can make your cat lick and scratch too causing sores and bald spots. Treatment is easy and quick. Use a topical cream designed to get rid of fleas and ticks or go for the oral alternative. Your vet will be able to recommend the best treatment course.
  • Ringworm infection – This is not a worm, but a fungal infection. The scaly ring of missing hair is the most common sign. Your vet will be able to diagnose it for sure and prescribe the appropriate antifungals.
  • Anxiety and stress – If your cat is stressed and obsessively scratches and licks, she can end up losing a lot of hair. This is referred to as psychogenic alopecia. Cats that suffer from this condition tend to pick at their sides, belly and legs. It is very common on purebred female cats who suffer from a nervous personality. Treat the wounds and consult with the vet to fin out if she needs a change in the environment or antidepressants.
  • Rare causes – Some pure breeds like the Bengals and the Himalayas tend to have genes that cause hair loss. Other breeds, like the Sphynx are bred to be completely hairless. Although unlikely, hair loss can also indicate a problem with the immune system, an overactive thyroid, diabetes or cancer. Your vet will do a blood serum chemistry panel to determine if there are thyroid or hormonal imbalances that have caused the hair loss. Sometimes, imaging tools like ultrasounds and X-rays are used to rule out cancer and adrenal gland abnormalities. You need to tell the vet about your cat's behavior, diet and home to help him pinpoint the exact cause.
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