Hair loss, otherwise known as alopecia, is an all-too-common condition for many cats. If you cat starts losing fur, you know something is wrong, but where do you start? It could be any number of things which could be causing your favorite feline to be below their optimum condition. And besides, having a cat with patches of fur missing isn’t great when you have friends over, right?
Symptoms and causes of feline fur loss
Diagnosing feline fur loss isn’t exactly rocket science: if their fur is falling out at a noticeable rate, they likely have a health condition. But that fur loss may occur in different ways, for example you cat may only lose their fur in one small area, or their hair may fall out in multiple locations or across their whole body (eek!). This feline alopecia can be random in nature, or perfectly symmetrical, and the skin underneath may look normal or bumpy, red, and inflamed. The one common symptom linking them all together is sustained hair loss.
There are several common causes of cat fur loss, including:
- Cancer: this is particularly common in older cats which have developed a cancer or tumors. Their hair falling out is likely a symptom of the cancer. Note: studies show that feline alopecia can also indicate that your cat has cancer in the first place.
- Skin allergies: cats can become allergic to certain toxins around the house (just another reason to throw out all those nasty household chemicals!), which can manifest itself as fur loss. They can even start losing their fur if something they eat is causing their skin to become inflamed or irritated.
- Behavioral disorders: if your cat is nervous about something, stressed about social interaction, other animals, or environmental things like thunder (this was our cat!), or has simply not learnt how to groom themselves properly (also our cat, who never had a mother to show him how!), they can physically ruin their own fur.
- Hormonal imbalances: this is particularly the case if your cat is suffering from thyroid issues (also a VERY common problem for humans), or if you’re putting them on steroids.
- Parasites: it’s also possible that your cat is losing fur due to an adverse reaction from contracting a parasite. This can often be due to ringworm or other fungal pathogens.
Treating your cats fur loss
As always, rather than stressing out when you see your cat starting to lose their fur, take a step back and observe. Make notes whenever you see your cat acting weird, avoiding certain foods, not drinking enough or too much, or sleeping in the same or strange locations. These can all help you determine the problem, if not through Google searches, then by passing them on to your vet.
The next step should be to clean up your furry friend’s diet as much as possible. A 2006 study which examined 21 different cats suffering from alopecia (hair loss) found that over half of them were suffering from an “adverse food reaction.” What this means is that you need to invest in food products which have simple, wholesome, preferably organic ingredients that are free from gluten, grains, artificial colors and flavors, and hydrogenated oils. Check out our healthy cat food store for a good selection of healthy products.
If cleaning up your cat’s diet doesn’t stop it from losing fur, it looks like you’ll need to pay a visit to the vet (sad face). Your vet will likely run a blood serum chemistry panel to determine if your cat is suffering from hormonal imbalances or chemical toxicity. They may also run other tests to determine if cancer is the problem.
If your vet manages to pinpoint the problem, your pet will likely be placed on medication or a strict diet. Make sure you give your pet as much loving as possible (despite those unsightly patches!), make their living environment as stress-free as possible, and give them lots of healthy, nourishing food.