Cat hair loss can be alarming. This is especially true if your feline friend did not used to be an excessive licker. Many cat owners are immediately worried when they spot small patches of furless skin on their precious pals but the important thing to remember is, cat hair loss can be prevented and treated easily with a little bit of time and a lot of TLC.
Why Is My Cat Losing Hair?
If your cat is losing hair more than usual, there are many possible conditions that may be at fault. Some may be considered normal whereas others can indicate a serious problem. The most common include:
- An allergic reaction toward something that has been applied or contacted the skin. Common things include exposure to antibiotics applied to the skin; metals such as nickel, materials such as rubber, wool, and plastic, chemicals such as dyes and carpet deodorizers, or certain plants like poison ivy.
- An allergic reaction to pollen, house dust mites, or mold that has been inhaled.
- Infection with the Cheyletiella mite.
- A flea allergy or severe reaction to the saliva of the flea.
- Food allergies.
- Hyperthyroidism causing skin lesions from the excess secretion of a certain hormone occurring in 1/3 of cats with this disease.
- Stress, anxiety or trauma.
If there are multiple signs of disease, like hair loss plus fever, loss of appetite, weight loss or vomiting, take your kitty to the vet right away. Some things can actually be passed to people, so be careful to stay alert to all symptoms. Remember, cats tend to keep their feeling poorly secret.
A Few Causes Of Cat Hair Loss
When most people think of cats, they think of a lovable bundles of fur. Cats spend hours meticulously grooming themselves, and so it’s no doubt uncomfortable for both them and us if they should develop a condition that causes cat hair loss.
In fact, for many of us, if we came across a cat that was experiencing significant and noticeable hair loss, we would likely think that the cat is mistreated or a stray. However, often this is not the case as hair loss in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including some medical conditions.
Many times cat hair loss will be brought on by simple problems that we can control, such as fleas or allergies that cause excess scratching. However, other times hair loss in cats is caused by medical issues that need veterinary attention.
Some medical conditions that can cause feline hair loss include glandular problems such as thyroid conditions, or conditions related to the adrenal gland. Cushing’s disease as well as Addison’s disease are examples of such conditions.
Furthermore, any feline skin condition that causes damage to the skin, or itchiness that can cause your cat to scratch excessively may cause hair loss.
Here are five ways that you can prevent and cure cat hair loss:
Reduce stress: It is very common for cat hair loss to be a symptom of stress or anxiety. May cats will lick and groom what is referred to as a “hot spot” if they are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, territorial or even lonely.
To prevent stress related hair loss consider any changes that may have taken place for your cat and his surroundings. Have you purchased a new kitten? Moved his litter box? Been gone all day? These are all changes and disruptions for your cat and can result in him calming himself with excessive licking.
Treat for fleas and ticks: Another common cause of fur loss are fleas and ticks. Cats will often lick themselves to reduce discomfort and irritation. If you think your cat may have picked up some creepy crawlers have a look on his belly or the area surrounding his “hot spot”. If you see small black dots that move you may need to purchase a flea collar, bath or powder.
Positive reinforcement: When cats lick to the point of hair loss it can be as stressful for the owner as it is for the cat. However, it is important when trying to reduce licking and hair loss not to scold or punish a cat for excessive grooming. This of course will lead to more anxiety, stress and hair loss. Instead try to give your feline something else to think about such as small, healthy snacks or a game of catch the feather toy.
Change foods: Cat hair loss is also quite often linked to diet and commercial cat foods. If you have noticed excessive licking, shedding or irritation consider changing food brands. Cats, like humans can have food related allergies which can result in many different symptoms. If possible try an all natural food which includes fur and skin-friendly ingredients such as Omega fatty acids.
Hair Loss In Cats From Flea Bites
One of the chief causes of hair loss in cats is incredibly simple and something we’re all familiar with. I’m, of course, talking about fleas here. Those annoying little pests that make our cats (and us) itchy and try to invade our homes are often the culprits behind cat hair loss. This is because the fleas damage the feline skin and cause the cat to scratch and groom itself excessively. This combination makes it hard for hair to grow properly and cause patches of hair to fall out completely. Unfortunately, even the cleanest homes can become victims to fleas, and this is especially true for those living in rural areas or warm clients.
Usually you will be able to tell if your cat has fleas because of the bites on its skin. You will also likely have a run in or two with the fleas themselves. You may see them (they resemble pieces of black pepper) on either your cat, your furniture, your carpet or even yourself. Treating fleas involve both removing them from your cat as well as your home.
There are various topical flea treatments that can prevent the little pests in the first place. If your cat already has fleas the same treatments should be able to kill and repel them. There are also various flea baths on the market with various success rates, so make sure you read some online reviews before picking one.
Also these baths can be quite hard on your cats skin, especially if you are dealing with cat hair loss. Some products may actually be harmful to your cats health, so do adequate research before using any flea preventative or treatment on your cat. Furthermore you may want to research natural flea repellents as these have been tried by many people – again, with various success rates.
Your house will also need to be cleaned from top to bottom, as fleas can quickly reproduce and make your home an unpleasant place to be.
Dealing With Cat Dandruff
One of the most common skin conditions that felines develop is cat dandruff, which is of course very similar to the dandruff that many humans experience. If you’ve ever had a dandruff issue, then you know that it can cause a large amount of itchiness.
Well, the same is true for your cat if he or she is suffering from a dandruff. Dandruff in cats can often times cause them to scratch and groom themselves excessively, both of which can lead to irritation of the skill as well as cat hair loss. There is also a small risk that the cat will scratch so excessively that it will cut itself. This is dangerous as the scratch could become infected.
Thankfully there are ways to reduce the amount of dandruff your cat is dealing with, and this can be done very naturally. While there are some specialty cat shampoos on the market that promise to aid your cats dry skin, the problem can often be solved by using a humidifier.
A humidifier will help to prevent your cats skin from becoming to dry, relieving the dandruff issue. It’s also a lot easier than trying to bathe your cat, as anyone who has tried knows how hard that can be. Other causes of cat dandruff include bites from fleas or mites, so it’s important to rule out those as possibilities by thoroughly inspecting your cat.