So, is your cat losing hair? What causes cat hair loss? Let’s learn more about hair loss in cats, also known as alopecia in cats.
First, let’s define cat hair loss
A cat losing hair — also called alopecia in cats — are often complete or partial and happens in felines for a spread of reasons, the foremost common of which is skin allergies, experts say. Dr. Fiona Bateman, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, regularly sees hair loss in cats at her clinic.
Is alopecia in cats ever ‘normal’?
Some cats have hereditary alopecia. For example, Sphynx cats are born without hair and never grow any.
Another type of normal hair loss is pineal alopecia – hair loss on the outside of the ear pinnae — which is common in Siamese cats but usually resolves on its own. Many adult cats also experience preauricular alopecia — thinning of fur on the skin strip between the ears and the eyes, which is considered normal in cats, Dr. Hayworth says.
What about acquired alopecia in cats?
The rest of the cat population, which is born with normal fur, gets acquired alopecia — which is a symptom of a disease or condition, and not a disease itself. The veterinarian will diagnose the underlying condition, Dr. Bateman says.
With a cat losing hair, will that hair grow back?
The good news for cat parents is that this hair loss in cats usually doesn’t indicate a significant illness, and therefore the hair can usually grow back, Dr. Bateman says. Dr. Hayworth, of VCA Northview Animal Hospital in the Pittsburgh suburbs, explains that how well a cat losing hair can be treated and reversed depends on the underlying cause.
“Generally, if we can reverse the cause, then we can get the hair to grow back,” Dr. Hayworth says. “This is especially true with over-grooming related to allergies. So, if you notice hair loss in your cat, it is definitely worth a trip to the doctor.”
These are six of the most common conditions behind a cat losing hair. Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list, as alopecia in cats is a broad condition with many potential factors.
1 – Allergies – Particularly to Fleas – and Itching and Over-grooming
Fleas can bite and irritate any cat, but some cats have a hypersensitivity to antigens within the flea saliva. These allergic cats get miserably itchy if they encounter fleas — and lots of of them will over-groom as how of scratching the itch. The hair doesn’t just fall out; the cats actually lick it such a lot that they pull their hair out.
“It’s not that the hair can’t grow,” Dr. Bateman says. “These cats are licking it out faster than it are often replaced.
“About 90 percent of these cats we see in our clinic is over-grooming,” she says. “It is far less likely that the hair is rupture and not regrowing.”
Sometimes, a cat may engage in compulsive grooming because of neuropathic pain from nerve damage in the skin. In rare cases, a cat may groom an excessive amount of and lose hair for psychogenic reasons, like anxiety after a stressful event; but, it’s more likely that cats licking off their hair are itching from flea allergy, Dr. Bateman says.
Mange, scabies, and lice can also make a cat’s skin itch — resulting in an equivalent over-grooming and a cat losing hair. Mites, food allergies and environmental allergies also can cause itching and over-grooming.
2 – Pain
Sometimes, a cat will lick an area of his body too much not because it itches, but because the tissue underneath the skin hurts, Dr. Bateman says. A cat with arthritis, for instance, may lick at the achy joint constantly because it is painful, and licking helps relieve the discomfort. The problem is, the cat licks away the hair, too.
Dr. Bateman once saw a cat who had a fractured rib. The kitty licked at the painful rub so much that he had become bald around that bone.