Diagnosing The Cause Of Hair Loss
As a first diagnostic step, your vet will do a thorough physical exam, focusing on the skin and coat and looking for evidence of pain or any fleas.
Your vet will also ask about any other symptoms you might be seeing, like any scratching, head shaking, behavioral changes, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or urinary issues.
Mites, bacteria, yeast, and fungi like ringworm, can only be seen with a microscope so your vet will probably recommend checking for these with testing like skin scrapes, cytology, and fungal cultures.
Allergy testing can be done with a blood test or a skin test. Your vet may recommend blood and urine tests as well. Some unusual cases may need additional testing like a skin biopsy or may be referred to a specialist veterinary dermatologist.
What To Do If Your Cat Is Losing Hair
If you notice your cat shedding more than usual, if your cats coat has a thin and moth-eaten appearance, or if you see bald spots or bald patches if missing hair, do not delay seeking treatment from a veterinarian.
Some health conditions that cause hair loss are serious, and if your cat is losing hair because of itchy skin, she might be very uncomfortable. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the cause of your cats hair loss, recommend the proper course of treatment, and get your cats skin and coat healthy again.
Is Your Cat Losing Hair What It Could Mean
Shedding fur is a natural part of feline evolution. However, its important to recognize the difference between your cats typical shedding and what may be abnormal hair loss. Is your cat losing hair to the point of thinning fur or even baldness in some spots? Cat hair loss, also known as alopecia in cats, can have several causesmost of which are easily treatable.
Read Also: What To Take To Prevent Hair Loss
Healthy Diet Healthy Fur Healthy Kitty
A soft, shiny coat is a sign of a healthy cat. Its also a sign your cat is eating an optimal, high-meat, species-appropriate diet!
Cats are obligate carnivores, after all. They need a high-protein, meat-rich diet to thrive.
When your cat digests animal proteins , amino acid ‘building blocks start to build and strengthen your cats coat. The problem with most commercial cat foods is they rely on gluten-based protein to boost their protein levels, but cats don’t have the digestive enzymes to efficiently utilize these proteins.
Cats that aren’t fed a meat-rich diet also dont get the moisture their organs need to function safely. Without this moisture, your cats digestive system cant transport hairballs.
Certain Breeds Are More Prone To Hair Loss
Some hairless cat breeds actually start out with fur, like the Donskoy, and then lose their hair over time. Other breeds, such as the Lykoi, Minksin, and Peterbald, are often partially hairless.
Furthermore, Oriental purebreds may carry genes that are more likely to cause alopecia in cats for instance, Siamese cats are more prone to hair loss on the outside of the ears.
Read Also: Does Light Therapy Work For Hair Loss
Ideas To Reduce A Cats Stress Level
If your cats lab results are all normal and there is no evidence of other causes, you may wonder what to do next to help your cat. Because psychogenic alopecia is based on emotional states of stress, anxiety and frustration, focus on minimizing stress for your kitty. Here are some ways to do that:
- Place perches and climbing posts in key areas, such as in front of a window. This may encourage your cat to express her natural tendency to rest on high surfaces and view her environment from above.
- To enrich her environment and offer privacy, give her access to some cardboard boxes and paper bags .
- Play with her using interactive toys, such as a feather wand, to stimulate her natural hunting instincts and help her burn off excess energy.
- Get a Feliway diffuser, which releases a synthetic version of a feline pheromone, a calming chemical substance that cats produce naturally.
- Other options for providing enrichment include scattering kibble around to encourage her to hunt for her food, offering nontoxic cat grasses or catnip, and giving her food puzzle toys.
Allergies Particularly To Fleas And Itching And Over
Fleas can bite and irritate any cat, but some cats have a hypersensitivity to antigens within the flea saliva. These allergic cats get miserably itchy if they encounter fleas and many of them will over-groom as a way of scratching the itch. The hair doesnt just fall out the cats actually lick it so much that they pull their hair out.
Its not that the hair cant grow, Dr. Bateman says. These cats are licking it out faster than it can be replaced.
About 90 percent of those cats we see in our clinic are over-grooming, she says. It is much less likely that the hair is falling out and not regrowing.
Sometimes, a cat may engage in compulsive grooming because of neuropathic pain from nerve damage in the skin. In rare cases, a cat may groom too much and lose hair for psychogenic reasons, like anxiety after a stressful event but, its more likely that cats licking off their hair are itching from flea allergy, Dr. Bateman says.
Mange, scabies and lice also can make a cats skin itch leading to the same over-grooming and a cat losing hair. Mites, food allergies and environmental allergies also can cause itching and over-grooming.
Read Also: What Foods Cause Hair Loss
Hair Loss Culprit #: Ringworm
Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss. If your cat has ringworm it is imperative that you take care of it immediately as ringworm is very contagious to other cats and humans. If infected with ringworm, older cats hair will become brittle and break off in patches, while kittens will get reddish areas on the face, ears and paw pads, sometimes accompanied by a white or gray crust. If your cat is showing these signs of ringworm, take her straight to the vet who will confirm whether ringworm is the correct diagnosis and, if so, prescribe the proper treatment.
How Is Thecause Of Cat Hair Loss Diagnosed
If you noticeyour cat losing its fur and you believe it is more than usual, it is best totake your cat to the vet to get a diagnosis for the loss of hair. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and pay takea closer look to the area. He will ask you questions, such as: if the cat hasbeen scratching, itching, how long it has had symptoms, if it has recently hadany medication .
Other diagnostic testsinclude:
- Fungus culture – To look for ringworm.
- Food elimination trial – Your veterinarian will place your cat on a food trial which usually lasts between 8-12 weeks. During this time, you must refrain from giving your cat any other foods, vitamins, minerals or chewable medications apart from the prescribed diet.
- Specific blood tests to check for hyperthyroidism.
- Specific blood tests to check for Cushing’s disease.
- Skin scrapings – These are studied under a microscope to look for mites.
Once a diagnosisis made, the vet will be able to prescribe the necessary medication to preventfurther loss of hair.
Please note, this page is purely informational, the best source ofadvice and treatment regarding cat hair loss, is your veterinarian.
You May Like: Does Diabetes Cause Hair Loss
Why Is My Cat Losing Hair
There are a few different reasons for cat hair loss. Some cats experience skin allergies, which can cause hair loss to occur. Parasites that bring about mange, and fungal issues like ringworm, are also common causes of cat alopecia, especially in younger cats or those with other health issues.
Nervous disorders can also cause hair loss in cats. Hormonal imbalances, specifically too much thyroid or increased levels of steroids in the body, may lead to cat hair loss. Another less common factor is heredity. Cat alopecia is common in older cats that are diagnosed with some types of cancer.
Why Do Cats Lose Hair On Their Hind Legs
Hair loss occurs in response to many factors, including poor nutrition, autoimmune disease, fungal infections, allergies, and parasites. Cat hair loss can be partial or complete, and the patterns can vary or be symmetrical. The skin surrounding the area of hair loss can appear normal, or it can have redness, bumps, and scabs. Hair loss is a symptom, and the underlying cause must be determined in order to be treated. If a cat has hair loss and is scratching the area excessively, the itching problem should be investigated first. Below are four of the most common causes of hair loss on hind legs in cats.
Also Check: Which Oil Is Best For Hair Loss
How Is Alopecia Treated
Treating alopecia depends on the cause behind your cat’s hair loss. Once your vet has run some tests they will be able to recommend flea control products or an anti-fungal treatment if they discover parasites or ringworm.
Treatment of allergic skin diseases can take a little longer but, with the help of a veterinary dermatologist, once the offending food or substance is found, a plan can be put in place to avoid it.
If stress-related over-grooming is suspected, your vet may refer you to a veterinary behaviourist who can help identify the cause of the stress and cat hair loss as well as provide you with advice on how to reduce it.
If your vets investigations show that your cat is over-grooming because of pain in their joints or bladder, they will treat the underlying problem with necessary medication. When the pain stops, the cat hair loss will too.
Once the cause for the alopecia in cats has been found, you should hopefully have a happy and healthy pet again!
Overgrooming Due To Stress Or Anxiety
If you notice that your cat is grooming themselves more often than usual, this may be causing them to lose their fur. In rare instances, over-grooming can be a sign of a neurological disorder, particularly in older cats but, more commonly, it is a behaviour triggered by stress.
Its important to try to prevent over-grooming becoming a habit. One of the most effective ways to treat over-grooming in cats is by intervention. Whenever you notice your cat licking excessively or for a long period, try to interrupt calmly. Perhaps play a game or offer a treat.
Cats are keen self-groomers and take great pride in keeping themselves looking good by licking their fur regularly. They can, however, over-groom by licking too much too often or even biting at and chewing their fur. This can result in the thinning of fur or complete bald patches on your cat, particularly on the front paws.
You May Like: What Can I Do For Hair Loss
Hair Loss Culprit #: Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a glandular disorder caused by an excess or shortage of thyroid hormone. Hair loss is just one of many symptoms, so do not panic at the first sight of it. The hair loss will typically present itself by becoming brittle and thin, losing its natural sheen and shedding in excess when you brush your cat. If you are concerned that your cat may have hyperthyroidism, head straight to the vet where they can run bloodwork to know for sure.
Ringworm Or Fungal Infection
Despite its unusual name, ringworm is not a parasite. Its a fungal infection that causes lesions on the skin that are circular in shape. It can affect most mammals and is highly contagious. If your cat develops a ringworm infection it will usually cause their hair to fall out around the infected area. This will leave either a completely bald area of skin or a distinctly thinner covering of hair.
Your cat can catch ringworm from fungal spores that can survive on objects for up to two weeks. This means that if your cat brushes against an object that an infected animal has come into contact with they will catch the infection. Ringworm is diagnosed by taking a sample from the affected area and testing it in a laboratory. If you suspect your cat has ringworm be careful to come into contact with the infected area as humans can catch it too.
You May Like: How Much Is Hair Loss Treatment
When To Be Concerned About Hair Loss
If your cat is losing a significant amount of hair, it may be a symptom of pain, stress, or a health problem. I
Since hair loss is rarely normal in cats and can be a symptom of pain or other diseases, its important to schedule an appointment with your vet if you notice hair loss or bald spots in your cat.
Feline Paraneoplastic Alopecia In Cats
Feline paraneoplastic alopecia is a cancer related skin condition. This condition is rare, and generally is a sign of internal tumors. While the link between skin lesions and cancer is unknown, most cats with paraneoplastic alopecia have pancreatic cancer. By the time the skin lesions appear, the cancer may have already spread to other areas .
Because this condition is linked to cancer, many parts of the body are affected. There is the initial tumor and any additional cancer that has spread internally, and externally the skin will then display lesions and cats will lose hair. Weight can also be affected, with some animals refusing to eat .
This condition is not linked to a specific breed. Age does appear to be a factor, as the majority of cases seen are between nine and sixteen years of age, with an average age of 12.5 years.
Recommended Reading: What To Do If Hair Thinning
We Look At This Common Skin Issue In Cats
Cats take good care of their fur, thats why any hair loss can be easily noticed by owners and can rightly be a cause for concern. Bald patches on cats are however fairly common, but they may be caused by any number of conditions sometimes routine, sometimes serious. In this blog we take a look at why your cat might develop bald patches or hair loss and what might be causing it.
If your cat has bald patches that are causing you concern, book an appointment at Knutsford Vets Surgery. We have specialist diagnostic facilities and staff with additional training in pet dermatology.
What Causes Feline Hair Loss
There are many reasons why your cat is suffering from hair loss. You should bring your cat to the vet to see if a source can be properly identified. They may uncover problematic conditions for example, think ear mites, ringworm, fleas, or even allergies. All of these conditions will cause discomfort, making it impossible for your cat to keep from scratching. Their over-grooming can lead to bald patches. Vets will also be able to identify any other serious problems.
Feline hair loss can also be a side effect of stress. A stressed cat may start to pull out their fur or over-groom certain areas. They may also try this technique on spots where they are experiencing a lot of pain, like sore muscles and joints.
Hormones can also lead to hair loss and balding in cats. There are specific hormones responsible for cat hair growth and they could be experiencing an imbalance. If they have too much or too little of these hormones, it can lead to losing hair. Some pregnant cats are also more likely to lose fur due to hormone changes.
A poor diet can also lead to hair loss, meaning the food that you feed your cat must be healthy and contain required ingredients like taurine and a named protein source. A quality commercial food brand will keep their coats shiny and healthy.
Don’t Miss: Does Aveda Shampoo Cause Hair Loss