To see our feline friends suddenly begin to lose hair can be alarming and a genuine cause for concern for us cat owners. The reasons why your cat may be losing hair are multiple. In this article will touch upon some of the more common causes.
Cats can be allergic to fleas and flea bites, due to a condition called Flea Allergic Dermatitis, and as a result hair loss can be a by-product of an allergic reaction. Fleas will cause itchiness and tenderness and you will notice the cat begins to chew excessively around certain areas, especially down the sides and rump, leading to hair loss. Treating your cat regularly for fleas can help to eradicate this problem, as can treating the home with a household flea spray to break the flea lifecycle.
Other unwanted guests on your cat can also lead to hair loss, such as mites, worms, lice and ringworm.
Food allergies can also have the effect of causing your cat to lose hair. Allergies to food can include symptoms such as inflamed ears, itching, rashes and an upset stomach. The best way to find out if your cat has a food allergy is to speak with your vet and they will be able to perform tests that may lead to you running blood tests or an elimination diet for your cat, identifying which foods may be causing an allergy.
Food is not the only potential source of an allergic reaction. Cats can be allergic to drugs, or even every day substances found in the home or outdoors. Again, a trip to the vet can provide answers.
Believe it or not, cats can also suffer allergic reactions to the weather, particularly heat. Heat can cause some cats to excessively lick and tend to a particular area on their body which in turn can lead to hair loss. If this is the case, keep your cat indoors during periods of hot weather and ensure they have all day access to shaded areas within the home.
Flea Allergic Dermatitis can cause serious irritation to your cat. Treating regularly with a suitable spot-on treatment to eradicate flea problems is an ideal way to reduce this problem.[note color=”#ffb7ad”]Norbrook Laboratories offer a range of flea treatments for your pets, including a household spray. Permaguard, which can be used throughout the house- on furniture, carpets, along skirting boards and pet beds (just be sure NOT to use directly on animals). Permaguard is fast acting and long lasting, killing both adult fleas and their larvae, and preventing reinfestation and development of fleas for up to 12 months. Permaguard is available from your local veterinary practice along with a range of spot on flea treatments suitable for your cat.[/note]
Feline Alopecia is believed to be an inherited condition. Studies indicate that alopecia is a disease of the autoimmune system of some cats. It’s very rare, but hair loss is a direct by-product of alopecia in cats. The hair loss can be temporary and comes and goes at different times. Your vet will be able to diagnoses if alopecia is the cause of your cat’s loss of hair and in most cases the hair will grow back, but may be subject to various periods in your cat’s life when they have patches of fur missing.
Infections may result if your cat is constantly scratching or biting their body. Bacterial infections can result if allergies are present in your cat and your vet will be able to treat most infections with a short course of antibiotics.
Feline Cushing’s Disease is a condition caused by an overload of corticosteroids in the cat’s body. Cushing’s disease in cats is extremely rare but hair loss can be a side effect alongside other symptoms, such as increased thirst and a more frequent need to urinate. Keep your eye out for these symptoms as Cushing’s Disease is something that will require veterinary intervention as soon as possible.
Hyperthyroidism can present similar symptoms to Cushing’s Disease, such as increased thirst and can also produce hair loss as a result. If your cat is diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism your vet will be able to advise on the most suitable management plan.
One fairly rare cause could be mange. More common in dogs than cats, it is not life threatening, but is certainly something that can make your cat very uncomfortable and unhappy. Cat mange is caused by two types of mites – burrowing and non-burrowing. The burrowing mites as the name describes, burrow into your cat’s skin, forming tunnels where they lay their eggs. The eggs develop into larvae, which become nymphs that eventually turn into adults. Burrowing mites live their entire lives inside the tunnels they create in your cat’s skin. Non-burrowing mites feed on your cat’s skin scales. Some types of these mites suck tissue fluid and others suck blood. If you feel your cat could be suffering from mange, seek advise from your veterinarian. They will offer the best diagnosis and treatment plan to relieve your cat’s suffering.
Just like us, cats can also suffer with stress and, again just like us, stress can produce hair loss in your cat. Unusual behaviour, excessive chewing of the skin or self mutilation should be investigated by a vet at the soonest possible opportunity. Stress can be as a result of many different circumstances but is not normally something that stays present for long periods if it is properly treated.