Most cats have thick, healthy hair. In fact, cats take pride in keeping themselves pretty and clean. However, when cats are sick, they may not take care of their fur, and they can develop health issues that lead to hair loss, called cat alopecia. Have you noticed that your cat’s started losing hair? Or have you found a bald patch on her body? There are many reasons your cat could be losing her hair.
Some Shedding is Normal for Cats
Most cats shed to some extent—some more than others. This is a natural part of being a kitty. However, if you’ve noticed your cat is shedding more than normal or has developed bald areas, then it’s time to consider an underlying health issue could be the cause. This will mean a trip to the vet is needed.
There are several reasons your cat could be losing her hair. Cat alopecia can be caused by:
- Skin allergies
- Food allergies
- Parasites can cause mange
- Fungal infections (such as ringworm)
- Nervous disorders: such as over-grooming can cause baldness in cats.
- Imbalance of hormones (too much thyroid or increased steroids)
- Flea infestation
- Cancer (can sometimes cause hair loss in cats)
These are some of the health issues that can lead to baldness in cats. However, there are cats that are naturally bald due to genetics. The cats have literally been bred to be hairless, including Sphynx cats. Another type of baldness in cats is pinnal alopecia. This is hair loss that is specific to the outside of the ear pinnae. You’ll often see this condition in Siamese cats. Senior cats can also experience preauricular alopecia, which is thinning of the fur between the ears and eyes. In these cases, alopecia can be normal.
However, in a normal cat hair loss is usually a sign that there’s an underlying health issue that needs to be checked.
Cat Getting Thinner and Losing Hair
If you notice your fur baby’s losing weight and hair, then it’s time to call the vet and make an appointment for a checkup. Possible causes can include fleas, allergies (skin or food), infections, etc.
The vet will want to do a physical and may also require lab work in order to determine what’s going on with your kitty. He’ll be looking to rule out cancer, autoimmune issues, nervous disorders and a hormonal imbalance. The vet will also look at other possible causes of your kitty’s hair loss including:
- Dental issues: broken teeth, deteriorating teeth, gum disease, etc.
- Organ failure: hair loss can also be caused by organs such as the pancreas or gallbladder act up. This problem can also be caused by fatty liver disease.
- Chronic diseases: inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes can cause loss of weight and hair.
- Nutritional deficiencies: if your kitty isn’t getting enough of the vitamins and minerals she needs, it could also cause her to lose hair and weight.
- Vaccine side effects: a vaccination can cause hair loss where it was given, making the skin itch and burn. This may cause your kitty to lick and scratch trying to relieve the itch, leading to hair loss. Vaccinations can also cause weight loss in cats.
- Poisoning: if your cat accidentally eats something that’s toxic to cats, this can also lead to weight & hair loss due to kidney and liver failure, etc.
- Cat FIP: feline infectious peritonitis is a rare, often fatal, response to feline coronavirus. It can cause your fur baby to lose her appetite, leading to loss of weight and hair.
- Hot spots: if your precious fur ball develops an itchy spot, she may start licking it all the time, leading to what is called a hot spot. Hot spots are oozy sores that are hot and painful, which can spread to other areas. The issue gets worse if your kitty keeps licking the area over and over, keeping it wet and from healing.
- Contact dermatitis: this is usually an allergic reaction to something new in your home that your kitty may have rubbed up against. It could be a new piece of furniture, a rug, etc. You’ll need to do some research to find out what’s causing the issue.
- Pain: if your kitty is in pain and has a painful spot that she’s licking all the time, this could also lead to hair loss. Pain could also make her lose weight.
Cat Losing Hair on Belly
If you notice your cat is losing hair on her belly, it could be due to stress. Have you recently moved to a new home or added a new pet to your family? Have you recently travelled, added a new baby to the family, etc.? Any type of major change in the environment can cause stress in your fur baby. This can also be a sign of flea/tick/parasite infestation of her skin. Or she could be over grooming due to stress or other issues.
Hair Loss in Cats Around Neck
Have you noticed your fur baby losing hair around her neck? This could be caused by any of the problems listed in the previous sections. This problem can also be caused by an irritating collar or one that’s too tight. It could also be caused by the chemicals used on a flea collar, or flea and tick medication that’s placed on her neck.
Cat Alopecia Diagnosis
If your kitty is losing more than hair than is normal, then it’s time to call the vet and get her in. Your vet will more than likely do a complete physical, paying close attention to areas where kitty is missing hair, as well as checking her skin, etc. for other signs and symptoms. Unless the cause is obvious, the vet will more than likely also order tests, such as a blood serum chemistry panel to check to thyroid or other hormonal problems that can cause cat hair loss.
It may also be necessary for your precious fur ball to have other diagnostic procedures such as X-rays or ultrasounds in order to rule out cancer and other health issues.
Alopecia Treatments for Cats
Treatment will depend on the condition your vet diagnosis in your kitty. For instance, if your kitty’s hair loss is caused by fleas, the vet will probably prescribe a prescription for flea and tick control products. They may also recommend treating inside your home and the yard, all at the same time. This is the best way to get rid of fleas and ticks. If your cat has a skin disorder, a hormone imbalance, etc. the vet will prescribe the proper course of medications to treat the issue. There may also be topical treatments the vet will prescribe for your kitty’s skin. Hair loss caused by stress or other behavioral issues may be treated with anti-anxiety medications that are safe for cats. Overall, the underlying health issue will need to treated in order for your cat to feel better and to prevent more hair loss.
Home Treatment for Cat Hair Loss
If the cause of your cat’s hair loss is not due to a serious health condition, there are some home remedies you can try. If your kitty’s being treated with any prescription medications, including topical meds, then be sure to ask the vet if the home remedies can be used in addition to the prescription. You want to avoid creating a worse problem, or a new problem.
Here are some natural home remedies you can try for your cat’s fur loss:
1). Apple cider vinegar: this has both antibacterial and antifungal properties and helps to clean and sooth irritated skin, and to heal bacterial or fungal infections.
2). Coconut oil: can be used topically and will help to sooth dry, irritated skin. Coconut oil also has a softening action, which can work well for dry skin.
3). Olive oil: helps to eliminate mites and other parasites that can cause hair loos. Just apply the oil on your kitty’s rough and/or dry skin.
4). Remove food allergens: if your cat has food allergies, you’ll need to change her diet in order to better manage and control her allergic reactions and stop hair loss. Be sure to read all cat food labels, and avoid any foods your vet has said could be causing your cat’s allergies. Typical offenders include these ingredients: corn, soy and wheat.
5). Flaxseed oil: is a rich source of Omega-3 fat, which is needed for healthy skin and hair. Check with your vet for the right dosage, and then add this amount to your cat’s food or treats.
6). Baths: ask your vet if baths would help your kitty’s hair loss. If so, ask if chamomile could be added to her treatment. Chamomile has a soothing, healing effect on the skin. It can also help reduce dandruff and make your kitty’s fur and skin healthier.
7). Epsom salt soaks: if your fur ball will allow it, soaking in Epsom salt can also help her to feel better. It helps with the healing process and reduces wound swelling, etc. Plus it’s inexpensive.
8). Oatmeal soak: an oatmeal soak also has similar benefits to Epsom salt. It helps to ease itching, while soothing the skin. Make sure to use plain, super-fine oatmeal. Pour this into a lukewarm bath and let your cat enjoy the effects.
Cat Prevention of Hair Loss
Prevention is much better than your cat developing a hair loss issue. Make sure to brush your cat’s hair on a regular basis. This helps to loosen excess hair, while also keeping her fur clean of allergens and dirt. In addition, brushing works to exfoliate the skin. Be sure to give your cat a well-balanced cat food, one that’s free of allergens if she suffers from food or skin allergies. Also make sure she has access to clean water at all times, so she can keep herself hydrated. If your kitty has very dry skin, it can be helpful to add a humidifier to your home, especially during the drier times of the year, when there’s less moisture in the air.
Hair loss in cats can be complex or simple, depending on the cause(s). Taking your precious ball of fur to the vet is a good idea; you can then be sure she has no underlying health issues that could be causing her cat alopecia. Before using home remedies to treat your cat’s hair loss, make sure to check with the vet first. You want to make sure that the home remedies won’t cause any interactions or side effects with any medications your cat may be taking for other health issues. We wish you and your kitty much health!