One in all final 12 months’s litters of foster kittens introduced greater than pleasure and heart-melting cuteness to my home. Sadly, the outside kitties and their mother got here with a pack of fleas, and the pests took up residence within the fur of my resident cat, G.G., who had a maddening itch. The itch quickly was thinning hair on her stomach, on the base of her tail and on her hind legs. So, is your cat shedding hair? What causes cat hair loss? In G.G.’s case the hair loss turned out to be brought on by a flea allergy. Let’s study extra about hair loss in cats, also referred to as alopecia in cats.
First, let’s outline cat hair loss
First, what precisely is hair loss in cats? Pictures by Ramon Espelt Pictures / Shutterstock.
A cat shedding hair — additionally referred to as alopecia in cats — may be full or partial and occurs in felines for quite a lot of causes, the commonest of which is pores and skin allergic reactions, specialists say. Dr. Fiona Bateman, assistant professor of dermatology on the College of Georgia’s Veterinary Instructing Hospital, frequently sees hair loss in cats at her clinic.
Is alopecia in cats ever ‘regular’?
Some cats have hereditary alopecia. For instance, Sphynx cats are born with out hair and by no means develop any.
One other sort of regular hair loss is pinnal alopecia – hair loss on the skin of the ear pinnae — which is frequent in Siamese cats however normally resolves by itself. Many grownup cats additionally expertise preauricular alopecia — thinning of fur on the pores and skin strip between the ears and the eyes, which is taken into account regular in cats, Dr. Hayworth says.
What about acquired alopecia in cats?
The remainder of the cat inhabitants, which is born with regular fur, will get acquired alopecia — which is a symptom of a illness or situation, and never a illness itself. The veterinarian will diagnose the underlying situation, Dr. Bateman says.
With a cat shedding hair, will that hair develop again?
The excellent news for cat dad and mom is that this hair loss in cats normally doesn’t point out a critical sickness, and the hair can normally develop again, Dr. Bateman says. Dr. Hayworth, of VCA Northview Animal Hospital within the Pittsburgh suburbs, explains that how nicely a cat shedding hair may be handled and reversed will depend on the underlying trigger.
“Usually, if we are able to reverse the trigger, then we are able to get the hair to develop again,” Dr. Hayworth says. “That is very true with over-grooming associated to allergic reactions. So, should you discover hair loss in your cat, it’s positively price a visit to the physician.”
These are six of the commonest situations behind a cat shedding hair. Notice that this isn’t an exhaustive record, as alopecia in cats is a broad situation with many potential elements.
1. Allergy symptoms — Notably to Fleas — and Itching and Over-grooming
An instance of G.G.’s hair loss because of a flea allergy. Pictures courtesy Kellie B. Gormly.
Fleas can chew and irritate any cat, however some cats have a hypersensitivity to antigens inside the flea saliva. These allergic cats get miserably itchy in the event that they encounter fleas — and lots of of them will over-groom as a approach of scratching the itch. The hair doesn’t simply fall out; the cats really lick it a lot that they pull their hair out.
“It’s not that the hair can’t develop,” Dr. Bateman says. “These cats are licking it out quicker than it may be changed.
“About 90 p.c of these cats we see in our clinic are over-grooming,” she says. “It’s a lot much less doubtless that the hair is falling out and never regrowing.”
Generally, a cat could have interaction in compulsive grooming due to neuropathic ache from nerve injury within the pores and skin. In uncommon instances, a cat could groom an excessive amount of and lose hair for psychogenic causes, like anxiousness after a traumatic occasion; however, it’s extra doubtless that cats licking off their hair are itching from flea allergy, Dr. Bateman says.
Mange, scabies and lice can also make a cat’s pores and skin itch — resulting in the identical over-grooming and a cat shedding hair. Mites, meals allergic reactions and environmental allergic reactions can also trigger itching and over-grooming.
Generally, a cat will lick an space of his physique an excessive amount of not as a result of it itches, however as a result of the tissue beneath the pores and skin hurts, Dr. Bateman says. A cat with arthritis, for example, could lick on the achy joint consistently as a result of it’s painful, and licking helps relieve the discomfort. The issue is, the cat licks away the hair, too.
Dr. Bateman as soon as noticed a cat who had a fractured rib. The kitty licked on the painful rub a lot that he had turn into bald round that bone.
This isn’t as frequent a reason for a cat shedding hair as allergic reactions are, nevertheless it does occur. Cats with infectious situations like staph infections and fungal infections like ringworm could lose hair within the affected areas, Dr. Hayworth and Dr. Bateman say.
4. Endocrine Problems
A cat shedding hair could have hyperthyroidism — an overactive thyroid, which causes weight reduction and different signs. Outdoors of the thyroid, if cats have a hormonal imbalance and an elevated degree of steroids within the physique, the hair follicles could die; and with irregular hormone ranges, new hair could not develop again. As an example, Cushing’s illness, a metabolic dysfunction that produces an excessive amount of cortisol, could trigger alopecia in cats.
5. Medicine Aspect Results
Transdermal prednisone causes alopecia and curling of the ear pinnae. Normally, Dr. Hayworth says, stopping the remedy will reverse this situation.
6. Most cancers
Fortunately, most cancers is a not often the rationale for a cat shedding hair; it’s much more doubtless that your kitty’s hair loss is nothing critical. However neoplasia — a time period for irregular growths brought on by uncontrolled division of cells — could trigger hair loss in cats. One other critical situation that happens secondary to most cancers is paraneoplastic alopecia, which is hair loss related to itching and moist pores and skin, Dr. Hayworth says. Nevertheless, these critical causes are uncommon.
The underside line on hair loss in cats and alopecia in cats
Don’t panic over a cat shedding hair — simply take your cat to the veterinarian for an examination. “Likelihood is, it isn’t critical,” Dr. Bateman says. “However you don’t know that simply by trying on the cat, which is why it’s necessary to get it checked out.”
Inform us: Have you ever had your individual expertise with a cat shedding hair? What difficulty was at hand?
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Thumbnail: Pictures ©foaloce | Thinkstock.
This piece was initially revealed in 2018.