Cat Hair Loss: Common Causes of Hair Loss in Domestic Cats
It can be a difficult thing when your cat is sick and you don't know why. Just as when babies are ill and we can't tell what's wrong, your pet may be showing signs of distress, but it's difficult for humans to figure out what's wrong. Cat hair loss can be due to itching from fleas, a sign of a serious disease or a psychological problem.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis This is caused by an allergic reaction to a variety of substances, including antibiotics, chemicals, metals, or plants. Symptoms will include a rash or blisters on the area of bare skin, itching and chronic hair loss. Determine what is triggering the allergy and remove it from the cat's environment. A vet can prescribe an antihistamine or steroids to ease itching and discomfort.
Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis (Atopy) Atopy is caused by an inhaled allergen, such as pollen, dust mites or mold. Your cat may show signs of inflammation, redness, itching, hair loss or infection. Blood testing is most commonly used to diagnose atopy. Be sure to limit cat's exposure to the allergen; your vet may prescribe steroids, antihistamines, shampoos or immunotherapy.
Food Allergies Cats can be allergic to some foods. Try to eliminate certain food items until cat's symptoms ease. Be sure to alter their diet as necessary. Cats will lick their paws, have inflamed ears, appear to be itchy and red, and may lose hair. Infection can result from severe itching.
Cheyletiella (Rabbit Fur Mite) Mange Mange is caused by an infection of the cheyletiella mite and will cause itching, scaliness and hair loss. A prescription called Pyrethrin will help.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis This is a common, but more severe, reaction to flea bites. Cat may show itching, redness, hair loss, crusts and scales; serious itching may result in infection. The cat should be treated for fleas, and may be given steroids or antihistamines for the itching. Be sure to check the cat's bed and living environment for fleas as well.
Ringworm Ringworm or infection with fungus can cause hair loss, scaliness, crusty skin and itching. A culture test will need to be performed and the vet will prescribe medication or a ringworm vaccine. These are the most common types of hair loss in cats; however hair loss is a common symptom of many types of diseases. Be sure to take your cat to the vet if you notice severe or unusual hair loss.
Facial Alopecia This is an occurrence of hair loss between the eyes and ears. This may start as young as fourteen to twenty months old. It's more prominent in short-haired cats or dark colored cats. No treatment is needed unless there are other symptoms.
Hair Loss during Pregnancy and Nursing Cats can lose hair during pregnancy, nursing and other stressful situations. If you take steps to minimize their stress, the hair should start to return.
Hyperthyroidism Some cats with hyperthyroidism will have skin lesions; others will have hair loss or hair that can be pulled out easily, and may over-groom, resulting in bald spots. A blood test will determine if your cat has hyperthyroidism.
Psychogenic or Neurogenic Dermatitis Anxiety, boredom or stress can cause a cat to over-groom resulting in constant licking. Your cat may develop ulcers and hair loss on the abdomen, groin or back. Determine if stress is causing the hair loss, and if so, work to reduce it with behavioral therapy.
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