Cats shed their hair occasionally. You’ll have noticed that when you’ve gone to pick up a cushion after they’ve sat on it for a while! Depending on the temperature outdoors, or the time of year, cats can moult up to a third of their total amount of fur. Doing so is perfectly normal and healthy. It also helps to regulate their temperature. If, however, you’re starting to noticed pronounced hair loss on your cat, or even bald patches, there might be other factors at play. Just because your cat’s hair is falling out doesn’t mean that it’s ill. There can be a number of reasons why it might happen.
From stress to feline alopecia, we’re going to look at the most common possibilities below and sum up the best advice for you. As always, we’ve looked at the latest scientific advice and taken that on board. Even things as innocuous as flea treatments have been suggested as culprits for causing hair loss, so there are plenty of factors to consider before deciding whether to take a trip to the vet!
What Causes Cats Hair To Fall Out?
As cat owners who love our pets dearly, we tend to assume the worst when something seems wrong with our furry friend. If your cat’s hair is falling out, you’re likely to panic and think something is seriously wrong, when it might not be the case. Let’s look at the most likely reasons behind the issue.
This is especially likely if your cat is pregnant, or has recently given birth. There are hormones in your cat’s body which are responsible for the growth of its hair, and if it has a surplus or shortage of one of them, hair loss can be a physical symptom. In the case of a pregnant cat or recent mother, this will soon go back to normal. Some breeds of cat are more prone to hair loss than others, and need specific food content in order to maintain their coat. See our guide to breed specific cat food for more information.
An unbalanced diet can also be the culprit if your cat’s hair is falling out. There are modern diet types that aren’t necessarily healthy for cats. One recent trend is to feed cats raw meat only. We’ve looked into that, and we don’t think it’s a great idea. Some people feed their cats vegetarian diets. Cats are carnivores, and need the protein from meat in order to stay healthy. A regular, balanced diet of regular wet food and dry food will contain all the nutrients your cat needs. There are some supplements that can help, too. If you’re feeding your cat an unusual diet, try reverting to a more traditional one. See if that fixes the problem.
Cats are very prone to stress. “Scaredy cat” doesn’t exist as a phrase for no good reason. Cats can be highly strung and anxious, especially when something disrupts their routine. That’s why we’ve written a whole guide on helping a nervous cat. Stress can manifest itself in various ways in cats, such as refusing food or shying away from contact with their owners. Another common symptom is over-grooming. Sometimes, you can think your cat’s hair is falling out, when in fact your cat is licking and biting it out. If you notice very small bald patches appearing on your cat, monitor their grooming habits. See if they’re grooming more intensely, or for longer than normal. If they are, think about what may have triggered a stress response in them. Have you moved house? Is there a new animal in the house? A new regular human visitor? Have you changed their food, or their routine? Is their bedding being washed with a new powder? Is their litter tray clean? Any one of these things could have started it. In so far as is possible, put things back the way they were, and see if that stops the excessive grooming.
Feline Skin Conditions
Cats are as prone to allergies and skin irritations as their owners are. There are a number of parasites who like to set up home on a cat, such as ringworm, and these can be intensely annoying to your cat. Similarly, mites and fleas cause constant itching. With itching comes scratching. With scratching comes fur being pulled away from the skin! If your cat’s hair is falling out but they otherwise seem healthy, inspect them closely for any sign of a flea infestation. Perhaps get them a flea collar just in case.
This happens very rarely, but can still be a potential cause if your cat’s hair is falling out. A side effect of cancer in cats – called neoplasia – is known to cause hair loss when abnormal growths are formed by cell division. It’s a rare side effect of a condition which is already rare in itself.
Another serious but rare condition, which often comes as a secondary condition in cats dealing with cancer. It’s effects are better understood thanks to this study performed a couple of years ago. Put basically, this is a potentially serious disease, and one of the symptoms is itchy, moist skin and hair loss. If you’re noticing an unusual moist texture to your cat’s skin as well as the hair loss, contact your vet immediately.
Although we’ve listed a couple of nasty conditions in this article, it’s far more likely that your cat’s hair is falling out for one of the less serious reasons. It’s quite common for a cat which appears to be losing hair to vomit, too. For owners that’s particularly alarming because it’s a further suggestion that something’s seriously wrong with your cat. In fact, it frequently comes hand in hand with the stress issues. The excessive grooming means the cat swallows more of their fur than they normally would. The excess fur becomes a hairball, and gets coughed back up.
In the majority of cases, fur loss can be reversed naturally once the reason behind it is understood. Like we said, pregnant or lactating cats will eventually regrow their fur naturally. A cat who’s losing fur because of a cat diet will begin to regain their coat as soon as their diet is corrected. A stressed cat will stop losing its fur once it’s feeling calm and relaxed again. Very few hair loss conditions in cats are permanent.
Should I Go To The Vet If My Cat’s Hair Is Falling Out?
There is never any harm in going to the vet. Your vet will always happily perform a full assessment of your cat, and with a bit of luck, you’ll be told nothing’s wrong at all. For a worried cat owner, that’s worth the price of the veterinary appointment. If your cat’s hair is falling out, and you can’t immediately identify the cause having read the above information, you should contact a vet. They’ll be able to provide a diagnosis and advice on further treatment quickly and efficiently. They may also be able to give diet and supplementary advice specific to your individual cat. We wish we knew all of our readers’ cats personally, but we don’t, and so we can only give broad and general advice!
What Is A Vet Likely To Do?
Your vet’s first priority will be assessing your cat’s general health, and seeing if there are any other pressing concerns or symptoms. If there’s no obvious cause, a small skin and fur sample may be taken for testing. This can be done without causing any pain or distress to your cat! Sometimes a blood sample may be required. If there’s anything invasive needed, your vet will generally place your cat under anaesthetic to avoid causing discomfort. Some vets specialise in dermatology and skin conditions, and if yours doesn’t, they may well refer you on to someone who does if they believe they’ll be able to help you better.
It’s important to be as honest as possible with your vet, in order to help the diagnose the problem. If your cat has been displaying any behavioural changes – especially those which suggest that it’s stressed – let your vet know during the appointment, as this information is crucial in helping find the best course of treatment. Ultimately, your vet wants the same thing that you do – a happy cat without a hair loss problem!
Thanks for stopping by and reading our article today. If you’ve been concerned about your cat’s health, we hope we’ve been able to provide some good information and help to put your mind at rest. If you’re still worried, don’t delay any further, and contact your vet immediately. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of our furry friends!