Skip to content

What to Do About Unexplained Hair Loss


    For feline lovers and fans, cat hair is a reality of life. There are numerous T-shirts and mugs with cute sayings like “The whole lot tastes higher with cat hair in it” or “No outfit is full with out cat hair.” Sure, cats shed, but it surely’s a small worth to pay for the love and happiness they carry us.

    When cats shed usually, their coat seems simply nice. Nevertheless, in case your cat is trying a bit of on the bald facet, there could also be one thing happening in addition to regular shedding.

    What causes hair loss?

    The medical time period for hair loss is “alopecia,” and it’s a widespread downside in cats. Feline alopecia will be divided into two broad classes: spontaneous and self-induced.

    ✔ Spontaneous hair loss signifies that the hair is falling out, which is commonly a results of systemic ailments, most notably glandular issues like an underactive thyroid or overactive adrenal glands.

    ✔ Self-induced is from cats who lick, chunk or pull their hair out. This is actually because both their pores and skin is itchy or for psychological causes.

    Why cats have itchy pores and skin

    There isn’t a scarcity of causes of itchy pores and skin in cats. Pores and skin parasites, infections (bacterial or fungal) and allergic reactions are widespread circumstances. Though cats get lice and mite infestations of their pores and skin, that is an rare downside. Listed here are a number of the commonest circumstances and learn how to deal with them:

    ©Thorsten Nilson / EyeEm | Getty Pictures

    Fleas. By far, the commonest itch-inducing and hair loss-producing feline pores and skin parasite is the pesky flea. Flea infestation is identified by rigorously inspecting the pores and skin. Stay fleas can usually be seen when the hair is parted. Generally, for those who flip a cat over on his again, you may see one or two fleas scurrying throughout the stomach.

    In lots of instances, dwell fleas aren’t detected; nevertheless, a number of brown specks of “flea dust” (the well mannered veterinary time period for flea poop) is famous in the course of the examination. A hair coat containing flea dust has the looks as if somebody sprinkled pepper on the cat and is a telltale signal that fleas are a problem.

    Remedy: Flea infestation is definitely remedied with once-a-month topical flea management merchandise. The very best, most dependable merchandise are obtained via your veterinarian.

    Flea allergy. Some cats are allergic to flea bites, particularly to the saliva that the flea injects into the pores and skin because it bites. Even when fleas and/or flea dust aren’t detected, flea allergy may be the wrongdoer, because it solely takes a single flea chunk to provide an intense response in some allergic cats.

    Remedy: In addition to month-to-month topical therapy, a brief course of oral corticosteroids and/or antihistamines could also be warranted in cats with concurrent irritation and itching.

    Ringworm. That is the commonest infectious pores and skin illness in cats. Any age, intercourse or breed could also be affected, though younger cats, older cats and long-haired cats are extra often affected.

    Ringworm varies in its skill to induce itching. Some cats with ringworm don’t appear to be uncomfortable, whereas others scratch and lick at their pores and skin continually, leading to self-inflicted hair loss.

    Ringworm is a “zoonotic” illness, that means that it may be transmitted to people. In case your cat has a round, crusty pores and skin rash, and you’ve got an identical rash, it’s seemingly that ringworm is the wrongdoer.

    I had a shopper who went to her physician due to a pores and skin rash simply above her higher lip. Her physician requested her if she kisses her cat. “After all I kiss my cat,” she mentioned. “Properly, you have got ringworm, and also you may wish to get your cat checked.” Positive sufficient, her Persian kitten did have ringworm.

    Remedy: Ringworm therapy choices range, relying on the state of affairs (a person cat versus cattery or a number of cat family, long-haired cats versus short-haired cats, and so forth.),however might contain some mixture of clipping the coat, topical remedy (often medicated shampoos), oral medicine and environmental decontamination. Remedy is commonly profitable if shoppers are diligent about following the prescribed protocols, however there’s no denying it: Ringworm therapy generally is a main nuisance.

    Meals allergic reactions. Adversarial reactions to meals might manifest themselves by way of the pores and skin. You might even see:

    • extreme, generalized itching
    • little scabs and crusts all through the haircoat (referred to as “miliary dermatitis”)
    • itching across the head, neck, ears and face
    • self-inflicted hair loss because of overgrooming

    A meals allergy might present up first within the pores and skin as small crimson spots, which might flip into scabby or crusty sores that grow to be contaminated because the cat rubs or scratches them. Itching across the head and face is widespread; nevertheless, there are various cats whose solely signal of meals allergy is self-induced hair loss.

    Remedy: Dietary elimination trials, through which the cat is fed a weight-reduction plan containing a protein supply he hasn’t encountered earlier than (akin to duck, rabbit or venison) are essential to acquire a definitive prognosis. Your veterinary workplace seemingly sells these specialised hypoallergenic diets. These trials require endurance on the a part of the cat proprietor, as it could take wherever from three to 12 weeks earlier than you see enchancment.

    Airborne allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to airborne substances (often called atopy), akin to pollen or mud, can result in itching and subsequent hair loss from extreme grooming. Itching that seems to be seasonal is suggestive of atopy, though many cats with atopy will be itchy year-round, if the allergen is within the atmosphere on a regular basis.

    Making a prognosis of atopy will be difficult. Blood checks will be carried out to see if the cat is allergic to vegetation which can be native to a selected geographic area, in addition to to widespread family dusts and mites, though many dermatologists really feel the blood checks to be unreliable. Intradermal pores and skin testing, through which tiny quantities of allergenic substances are injected into the pores and skin and the pores and skin response famous, is a extra significant diagnostic take a look at. Mud mites and molds are the commonest airborne allergens, with some cats having concurrent reactions to seasonal pollens. Intradermal pores and skin checks must be carried out by an skilled veterinary dermatologist.

    Remedy: The best therapy of an airborne allergy is to determine the allergen if doable, then take away it from the atmosphere. That is often impractical, particularly in sufferers which can be allergic to airborne pollens.

    Hyposensitization — serial injections of progressively bigger quantities of the offending allergen — might be essentially the most acceptable long-term management methodology for cats with a protracted allergy season. This therapy requires a big time dedication and devoted proprietor. In the end, most house owners decide to attempt extra widespread therapies akin to antihistamines, omega-3 fatty acids and corticosteroids. Though corticosteroids have the potential to have unintended effects, the doses essential to manage allergic dermatitis are unlikely to trigger issues, particularly in cats, as cats are extra proof against the undesirable unintended effects of steroids as in comparison with canine.

    Psychological disturbances. Cats who pull, chunk at or overgroom their fur do that although their pores and skin doesn’t itch. We name this “psychogenic alopecia,” and it’s often a manifestation of stress, worry, nervousness or nervousness. Examples of demanding occasions in a cat’s life embrace a transfer to a brand new residence, a brief keep at a boarding facility, a brand new pet or child within the family, or territorial competitors in a a number of cat family. In some instances, nevertheless, the reason for the stress is probably not so apparent.

    Grooming is a consolation conduct, usually utilized by cats to loosen up themselves. Take into consideration the final time your cat did one thing foolish or clumsy, like misjudge a leap or by accident tumble off a chair. We’d chuckle, however the cat instantly grooms. Whether or not they really feel embarrassment is debatable, but it surely shouldn’t be shocking that within the face of stress, cats might flip to extreme grooming to dispel their nervousness

    As soon as parasites, allergic reactions and different medical issues have been dominated out, psychogenic alopecia have to be thought-about. Cats of Asian lineage (Siamese, Abyssinians, Burmese and Himalayans) are extra inclined to psychogenic alopecia, presumably due to their high-strung, nervous temperaments.

    Remedy: Ideally, the therapy of psychogenic alopecia would contain the elimination of the potential sources of stress within the cat’s atmosphere. Sadly, that is usually tough or unattainable, and anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes warranted to manage the issue. These drugs are often efficient, and plenty of cats can ultimately be weaned off of them.

    Time to see a specialist

    Even an skilled cat veterinarian often fails to realize a prognosis (or, extra frustratingly, they obtain a prognosis however the cat doesn’t reply to remedy). In these instances, it could be essential to hunt out a real skilled — a veterinary dermatologist. In lately of specialization, veterinarians have entry to quite a lot of consultants, and most normal practitioners can refer their difficult pores and skin instances to a close-by board-certified or certified dermatologist ought to the necessity come up.

    These veterinarians focus on one physique system — the pores and skin — and this enables them to acknowledge scientific indicators and issues {that a} normal practitioner may miss. Veterinary dermatologists are additionally more likely to be accustomed to novel therapy choices that haven’t but filtered their approach right down to normal practitioners.

    Your veterinarian can refer you to a veterinary dermatologist or you’ll find one on the web site of the American Faculty of Veterinary Dermatology at