Your cat’s fur can tell you a lot about their overall health status. In general, full, lush coats are a sign of health in cats (and dogs, and even humans!) If your cat is losing their fur, should you be worried?
Defining Feline Alopecia
Alopecia is a fancy medical term for “hair loss.” Feline alopecia isn’t necessarily uncommon, but it’s not something every cat experiences. Alopecia in cats is usually partial, occurring in specific spots across the body.
Some hair loss in cats is to be expected; alopecia is even hereditary in Sphynx cats, who are naturally “hairless.” Certain breeds such as Siamese are prone to bouts of hair loss on their ears, for example, but it usually clears itself up. Some hair thinning is also normal as cats age, particularly between the ears and the eyes. Unexplained patches of missing hair on your cat, especially those that come on suddenly, are definitely something to look into.
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5 Reasons Cats Lose Their Fur
There are a lot of nuanced reasons why a cat may begin to lose its fur, not all of them worrisome.
- Skin Allergies: Allergies are the #1 reason for hair loss in cats. The good news is, environmental allergies, seasonal allergies, and food allergies are readily treatable with veterinarian intervention.
- Fleas: Some cats are particularly sensitive to flea and/or other parasite bites and will experience quite a dermatological reaction. They may overgroom the bitten areas, too, resulting in missing chunks of hair.
- Overgrooming: There’s a difference in hair that falls out and hair that is groomed out. As stated, fleas can cause overgrooming in cats, but so can painful areas of the body and even anxiety.
- Infection: Certain skin infections (called folliculitis) caused by staph or ringworm can cause a cat’s fur to fall out at the site of the infection. Antibiotic treatment is necessary.
- Chronic Disease: Several diseases in cats can cause hair loss. Cancer and hyperthyroidism are two of the most common. Diagnostic testing can help determine if your cat is suffering from some underlying illness.
What Should You Do?
If you’ve noticed your cat is losing fur, you should always contact your vet. Best case scenario, it’s a normal sign of aging or an easily-treatable skin allergy! If not, your vet can help you determine exactly what’s causing the alopecia and the right treatment protocol whether that’s a cone collar to prevent overgrooming or a medication designed to treat underlying illness.
Most causes of feline alopecia are temporary. Once the cause of the hair loss is remedied, most cats grow their fur back over time.
Is your cat losing hair?