If you have a pet cat, chances are you've spent hours with your furry friend curled up on your lap, luxuriating in the warm fur coat that covers him or her from head to tail―which is why, it can be very worrying if you find your cat suffering from hair loss. Hair loss or alopecia is not uncommon in cats, and can be caused as a result of a number of conditions. While some conditions can be easily identified and treated at home, there are certain cases which may need a visit to the vet and professional care. Before you let the continuous fur loss in your cat freak you out, however, take a look at the most common causes as listed below, and the likely signs of each.
Sometimes, it's easy to identify the trigger to hair loss, by self-diagnosis―however, this is not always possible, and the loss may be gradual, or something that you notice over a period of time. Cats are rather fastidious in their grooming habits, and one of the first signs that could signal hair loss could be excessive grooming, or increased hairballs; in addition certain cat breeds may be more prone to hair loss than others.
Your cat may be allergic to a number of substances, and contact with any of these may trigger fur loss. This condition is also called Irritant Contact Dermatitis, and the culprits will be varied, including metals such as nickel, wood, chemical cleaning agents, dyes, plastic, or rubber. This hair loss in cats may be accompanied by itching, redness, or small raised bumps in the area that has been in contact with the allergen. In some cases, the allergen may be air borne, in which case, inhalation can trigger a reaction―such conditions are called Atopy, or allergic inhalant dermatitis and can be caused as a result of allergens like dust or pollen that are inhaled.
Medically known as cheylitiella, mange occurs as a result of infection by the cheylitiella mite. It is easily noticeable, particularly on the back and the rear, and generally appears as hairless patches, causing fur loss accompanied by scaliness. Treatment generally involves pyrethrin, which is commonly used to control most insect infestations including ticks and fleas on cats.
This is a condition causing hair loss on the face, though it can also cause loss of fur on the ears, or around the head and between the eyes. It is fairly normal, seen among cats 14 to 20 months old, especially those that are short-haired and have dark-colored fur. It does not require treatment unless accompanied by redness, itching, or scaling.
Some cats are violently allergic to flea saliva, and this triggers a reaction on the skin that can cause severe itching, redness, and hair loss. Sometimes, fleas will cause papules or crust formation on the areas that they infest; this can cause particular irritation. Fleas commonly reside on the back, and many cats will try to bite or chew off the hair on this infected area, resulting in fur loss. Ticks and mites can also trigger hair loss.
This is a condition where a cat pulls out or chews off its own hair in response to psychological stress. It's a condition that is more common than most cat owners realize, to the detriment of cat's health. Cats often groom as a way to relax themselves, and excessive stress can result in excessive grooming. Cats are particularly sensitive to change, and seemingly random things can lead to psychogenic alopecia; a change in diet, routine, sleeping patterns, or pet separation anxiety can often give rise to this condition.
In most situations it is best to get continuous fur loss in your cat checked by a vet to rule out the possibility of a condition that requires medical treatment, unless you're able to identify the cause and see visible improvements. Regular check-ups and vaccinations can also arrest a condition before it takes root, so keep your appointments regular. Taking care of your cat is easy, since they are known to look after themselves―all they need is some regular love and affection, which as a cat lover, you're sure to provide.