6 Reasons Why Your Cat is Losing Hair
Sudden hair loss can be very jarring for a cat owner. Any change in appearance can be alarming—but a sudden change in the fur pattern? That’s instant cause for concern.
Problematic hair loss is typically accompanied with licking, biting, gnawing, and scratching at the skin, an increase in hair balls, and other abnormalities such as redness, bumps, scabs, sores, or crusts. More severe symptoms can also include changes in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in energy levels, increased thirst and urination, or an enlarged abdomen or pot-belly appearance.
Acquired feline fur loss could be attributed to several factors, including:
Fungal or Parasitic Causes
Ringworms, mites, or flea allergies can cause fungal or parasitic infections in cats. Proper preventative measures should be taken to avoid them in both outdoor and indoor cats. But if such an infection occurs, topical ointments will likely be prescribed by a vet. Further, if there’s a secondary infection, IV fluids or antibiotics may be required.
A cat can develop allergies to its food at any age, and the reaction can include a rash from developing on it’s skin. This rash is usually itchy and irritating to the cat. Conjunctivitis (pink eye), nasal and ocular discharge, and inflammation of the ears may also occur.
Changing diets and applying ointments can help relieve these symptoms. Your veterinarian can provide further guidance based on your specific cat’s situation.
This is the term for over-production of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism causes a feline’s metabolism to slow. Hair loss and matting can be associated with this disease.
In some cats, treatment is unnecessary. But if it becomes severe enough, a vet may prescribe synthetic hormone supplements or recommend a modified diet containing reduced fat, which can help cats as they recover from hypothyroidism.
Urinary Tract Issues
UTIs are often mistaken as behavioral problems over medical, so it’s often said that they are among the most misunderstood conditions in cats. However, they are often lifelong issues that require lifetime care. It’s important to get your cat treated as quickly as possible because UTIs can be just as painful for a cat as they are for humans.
Symptoms include accidents outside of the litter box, blood in the urine, yowling when urinating, frequent urination, and less frequent urination. Causes include stress, urethral plugs, feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), and stones.
Depending on a cat’s diagnosis, a calming and enriching environment, specific medications, and urinary health cat food (which moderate the intake of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium that can cause crystals to form in the urine) can be recommended or prescribed by your vet in order to help alleviate a cat’s UTI.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just like how weather and environmental conditions can cause our skin to become irritated and cracked, the same thing can happen to a cat’s skin. And it can cause itchy and red rashes to form.
In terms of stress, if your cat otherwise appears healthy but is demonstrating excessive grooming, it could have displacement grooming. This is rooted in anxiety, and the grooming may serve as a calming mechanism for the cat. If the relationship between your cats is contentious, it may also be a way to deflect aggression from other cats.
If this is left untreated, it can turn into a condition known as “psychogenic alopecia,” which makes the grooming compulsive in nature. This type of alopecia generally occurs only on places that your cat can reach with its tongue—i.e., on the inner forelimbs, the rear area of the abdomen, the groin area, and/or the lower back area.
How to Help Your Stressed Cat
You can help your cat by purchasing perches and climbing posts to enrich its environment and offer privacy. Playing with your pet using interactive toys (and stimulating its instinct to hunt) is also a good way to distract them and help it burn energy. Food puzzle games, catnip, and nontoxic cat grasses can also aid in relaxation.
There are also products, like the Feliway diffuser, that releases a synthetic version of a cat pheromone, which is a calming chemical substance that a cat produces naturally. If these modifications are not successful, or if your vet decides that additional intervention is necessary, anti-anxiety supplements, medications, or special diets may be recommended. Such supplements could include Anxitane or Composure. If medicinal assistance is required, the drugs Fluoxetine or Paroxetine might be prescribed.
Contact Your Vet in Columbus, OH if Your Cat is Losing Hair
If you notice thinning or loss of your cat’s hair, you should consult your veterinarian in Columbus, OH as soon as you can. Early intervention is key to alleviating detrimental symptoms and preventing further outbreaks. Contact our team at North Kenny Veterinary Hospital today by scheduling an appointment or calling us at (614) 451-1204. Our compassionate veterinarians will make sure your pet deserves the best care possible.
About North Kenny Veterinary Hospital
North Kenny Veterinary Hospital has been serving Columbus, OH pet families with exceptional veterinary medicine since the 1950s. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine as well as low-stress handling to help pets have a more pleasant veterinary experience. We use Fear Free techniques for every cat and dog to help reduce their anxiety and calm their nerves.