Pet lovers know and accept, to some extent anyways, that pet hair is a part of their life. While you may be able to overlook it on your favorite chair or your black dress pants, pet hair is definitely a little more alarming when you can see signs of hair loss on the animal itself.
If your cat is losing hair at an alarming rate, has bald patches, or sores, it is time for Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital to get involved.
Reasons That Your Cat Is Losing Hair
The causes for hair loss in cats are plentiful, and it can be very difficult to determine what is going on. Many reasons why your cat is losing hair can look externally similar, but identifying the underlying cause is key to fixing the problem.
Commonly diagnosed causes of hair loss in cats include:
External parasites—Cats are no strangers to external parasites. Even indoor cats can be affected by things like fleas and mange (skin mites). Demodectic and sarcoptic mange are not visible to the naked eye and need to be diagnosed via skin scrapings examined under the microscope and/or empirical treatment. Fleas, while visible, can be quite difficult to find on cats due to their meticulous grooming habits. Likewise, a flea-allergic cat may need only a very small flea exposure to break out in some pretty dramatic skin changes.
Allergic skin disease—Cats, like humans and dogs, can suffer from allergies to environmental allergens like pollens and dust. They can also have food allergies. Unlike humans who typically end up with hay fever during allergy season, feline allergies often manifest as itchy skin and hair loss.
Skin infections—Cats can suffer from bacterial or yeast skin infections that affect the hair follicle. Ringworm, a contagious fungal infection, can also result in hair loss.
Pain—Cats often overgroom when in pain. They may lick over a painful joint, an ouchy bladder, or an upset belly, resulting in hair loss.
Stress—Stress and anxiety often manifests in cats as overgrooming. This can result in unsightly bald spots where licking has been concentrated. This is sometimes referred to as psychogenic alopecia.
Grooming problems—Matting and other problems with grooming can result in an abnormal hair coat and unhealthy skin. Diet can also affect hair growth and coat quality.
Genetics—Rarely, some purebred cats may have some genetics that result in harmless hair loss.
Systemic disease—Some disease conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can result in hair loss as well.
What’s a Cat Owner to Do?
If you own a cat, a little extra fur is something that you should probably get used to. If your cat is losing hair more than normal, though, it is time to contact us so that we can get to the bottom of the problem.
You can help your cat maintain a healthy coat as well by:
- Feeding a quality, nutritious diet
- Encouraging a healthy body weight
- Using parasite prevention regularly
- Brushing and grooming regularly, especially for cats with long coats or those who do not groom well themselves
- Minimizing stress in the environment
Some things like allergies or bladder problems may be beyond your control, but alerting us to an issue with the coat can help us to intervene earlier and help your cat.
If your cat is losing hair, it is a sign that something may not be right. The sooner you let us know that there is an issue, the sooner we can get started helping.