Watching your pet experience hair loss can be nerve-racking. Cat balding, or baldness in cats, does occur, but what amount is normal? Witnessing balding in your cat may have you panicked, asking “why is my cat losing hair?” Or, “why is my fluffy feline licking and biting itself?”
Several factors can play into balding in cats. Allergies and parasites frequently cause it, but there are circumstances where severe disease and illness may be responsible for hair loss. It is essential to discern what is causing the hair loss, so taking your cat to the vet is always the best choice. If that is not an option there are some telltale signals to be aware of. Natural shedding is normal, and keeping a grooming schedule is important to ensure healthy hair loss occurs.
Do Cats Shed & What’s Normal?
Shedding is normal and healthy for cats. A balding or patchy cat is unusual, though. It’s normal for felines to shed more around the spring, as the weather gets hotter for the summer. Typical shedding is light and looks different than hair loss due to medical ailments. Hair loss can be caused by allergies, infection, medication, stress, disease, cancer, and poor diet. In the vast majority of cases, the cause of hair loss is allergies.
It is essential to feed your cat a balanced and nutritious diet. Also, brush and groom your feline regularly. This gives you time to check for any excessive cat hair loss, infections, or parasites. Some cats just shed more than others. Long-haired breeds like a Maine Coon or Persian will shed more than short-hair breeds. Still, genetics may cause a short-haired cat to shed more than usual.
Why Is My Cat Losing So Much Hair?
If your cat is losing excessive amounts of hair, it may have alopecia. Alopecia is hair loss caused by your cat pulling hair out or hair falling out. Fleas, and an allergy to their saliva, are the most common cause of alopecia in cats.
Some cats have hereditary alopecia, like Sphynx cats that are bald. Siamese cats are commonly afflicted with pinnal alopecia, which causes hair loss on the ears.
What Causes Excessive Cat Hair Loss?
Many different factors can cause alopecia. They can range from mild circumstances like allergies to severe conditions such as cancer. Although some causes can be noticeable, it is best to speak to your vet before you self-diagnose your cat.
Fleas are nasty little parasites that cause your cat to scratch and unfortunately, excessive scratching could lead to hair loss. Flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) is very common in cats. These allergic reactions to flea saliva cause irritation, swelling, and itching that lasts longer than the infestation. Even one singular flea bite can lead to a severe allergic reaction. Constant scratching and licking can cause open sores or scabs on the skin, creating a secondary bacterial infection.
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There are some other bothersome parasites that may result in loss of hair. Lice can affect any breed but it is not very common and tends to affect old and sick cats. Feline lice are easily treatable. Many owners have success using common flea control products and remedies.
Feline mange is another parasite that can cause hair damage. Mange is cats is not as common as mange in dogs but it does occur. These skin burrowing mites can cause severe itch, hot spots, open wounds, pus, infection, and fur loss. Keep your felines and surroundings clean to prevent mange. Also, keep infested pets away and keep up with regular vet visits.
Food and environmental allergies can also cause itchiness that leads to hair loss. If you suspect this to be the problem it is best to take your cat to the vet to test for allergies. Although, if not deemed an emergency, some owners will try to figure out what is causing the reaction on their own. Removing certain foods from their diet, changing foods, and keeping an outdoor cat indoors are ways to do trial and error tests.
Anxiety, Boredom, & Stress
A cat rarely suffers from hair loss due to anxiety or stress. In rare circumstances, your cat may become stressed when introduced to a new environment, when you bring home a new pet, when you leave home for extended periods, or if a new human moves into the home. Some cats will self groom to ease their anxiety or stress, and chronic overgrooming usually leads to hair loss.
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Pain & Soreness
Cats that are injured or have pain may lick the area raw. For example, a cat with arthritis may lick their aching joint to alleviate the pain. The continued licking of the same spot or joint can lead to cat hair loss. If you believe your cat is in pain, please don’t let is suffer, take it to the vet if necessary.
It’s highly unlikely, but serious underlying health issues can cause cat hair loss. Autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities can all cause hair loss.
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When Should You Go To The Vet?
Owners should take their cat to the vet immediately if there is excessive hair loss or if other symptoms like pus, pain, infection, or smelly skin are present. For minor fur loss, there are some home remedies that may prove helpful. If home remedies have no effect and the degradation of fur remains consistent or gets worse, take your pet to the vet.
The most common cause of hair loss is an allergic reaction to flea bites. A vet will be able to give you medication or ointments to quell the itching. You will also need to do some prevention throughout your home if an infestation is present. If you notice your cat licking and grooming excessively on one spot, such as the knee joint or back and shoulders, it may be caused by pain and arthritis.
Never just self-diagnose, always take your cat to the vet for any concerns, loss of hair can be a serious issue for felines. PetMD states that a blood serum chemistry panel is completed to discover if there are thyroid or other hormonal issues causing alopecia. Multiple imaging devices like X-rays and ultrasounds are used to search for cancer or irregularities in the adrenal glands. A vet will give you the quickest answer to why your cat is losing fur.
Can You Help Stop Hair Loss In Cats?
If hair loss has already started, the best way to stop it is to find its source. If your cat is licking and biting a particular area, do a full inspection. Parasites and bacteria will be obvious to spot, but if there are no signs, pain may be the cause of the licking. Try to discourage your cat from scratching and biting that area, use a cat cone if necessary. The best course of action is to take your cat to the vet.
You must have your cat on a balanced diet. Vitamins A, B, and E are vital to hair growth. Make sure your cat’s food has these vitamins. Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale are high in vitamin A. Many types of meat have vitamin B, eggs and milk are also a good source of it as well. Vitamin E is abundant in olive oil, nuts, corn, and canola. Adding organic and healthy snacks to your pet’s diet can do wonders for their coat and hair growth.
Will the Hair Grow Back?
If your cat is losing hair due to a parasite, allergy, or illness, once that ailment abates the hair should begin to grow back freely. Depending on your breed, cat hair can take some time to grow back. For long-haired cats, it can be up to six months before hair is fully regrown. For short-haired cats, it should not take longer than three months for full regrowth. If the hair does not appear to be growing back at all, take your cat to the vet.
Can You Prevent Hair Loss In Cats?
PetMD recommends giving your cat lots of toys to play with to help with anxiety-based disorders. If you suspect anxiety to be the cause there are many cat exercises and activities to help reduce stress levels. Ensure you inspect your cat for parasites and infections regularly and make sure to clean the bedding and fury toys. Use monthly flea deterrents to stop an infestation.
If an allergy has been identified, keep that allergen away from your pet if possible. Many pet companies will sell sprays and oils that may calm dry skin and soothe certain irritations. Make sure the products you are buying have good reviews and do not try to hide their labels. Also, keep in mind, not all forms of hair loss are preventable.
Hair loss in cats can be attributed to several different factors. Alopecia in cats is a common ailment, so owners should not worry if they experience it. A cat losing hair doesn’t necessarily mean your pet is severely ill. Make sure to check your pets for parasites that may cause hair loss.
Speak to your vet and get your cat tested for allergies. An allergic reaction to flea saliva is the most common cause of hair loss, caused by licking and biting. Many parasites spread quickly, so if your pet has been in contact with other animals recently, make sure to disinfect them immediately. Check out this link.