Cats don’t tend to be as prone to problems with their skin and coat as often as dogs are, but they can still suffer from issues of this kind nonetheless. If your cat’s fur is falling out in clumps or patches, this might indicate an allergy, health condition or even stress or a behavioural issue – but whatever the cause, it is important to find out for sure what is going on, and why.
In this article we will look at some of the most common causes for a cat to lose their fur, and what can be done to resolve it. Read on to learn more.
Cats aren’t as prone to suffering from allergies to things as dogs are, but allergies can be complex and varied, causing a variety of symptoms that might extend as far as affecting the skin and coat.
Virtually any substance you can think of can be a potential allergen, and if your cat is allergic to something they have eaten, inhaled or come into contact with, this can generate a number of symptoms. Allergies can lead to your cat’s skin becoming itchy, irritating, inflamed or sore, which is all apt to lead to your cat licking and scratching at the areas in question to get some relief.
Allergies that lead to skin rashes or irritations can be hard to spot in cats because they are hidden by their fur, and often begin in hard to see areas like between the armpits or under the chin. If your cat’s skin condition is very irritating, your cat might lick and scratch themselves to the point that areas of sparser fur or even bald patches develop, and the added irritation of your cat’s attentions causes a vicious cycle that only serves to worsen the problem.
Many skin allergies in cats are caused by physical contact with an allergen, but they can also result from inhalation or even eating certain types of foods, which makes it hard if not impossible to pinpoint the root cause.
If your cat’s skin appears to be itchy or irritable or they have a rash, talk to your vet about what to do next as this may well be the cause of your cat’s hair loss.
The body’s hormones regulate many of its processes, and a problem or imbalance in your cat’s hormone levels can cause a range of symptoms that might extend to include loss of fur, either across the whole body or in patches.
Thyroid or parathyroid conditions are particularly likely to result in changes to your cat’s skin and coat texture, and can lead to the fur itself growing sparsely, falling out, or being weak and brittle. Get your vet to run some tests, as such problems can usually be managed with medication.
Parasites ranging from fleas to ear mites and everything in between will make your cat’s life really uncomfortable if left unchecked, and a serious flea infestation or ear mite colony will be itchy, irritating and potentially painful.
If your cat is losing hair on or around their ears, an ear mite infestation might be the cause – but such a problem might extend to the rest of your cat’s body too if the infestation is heavy.
Flea bites can also lead to your cat scratching themselves to distraction and losing fur as a result of this, and cats can build up a sensitivity to flea bites over time that can result in an allergy specific to flea bites. This allergy will cause an acute localised reaction any time your cat is bitten, which is even more likely to result in irritated scratching and hair loss.
Your vet can prescribe a product to treat ear mites, or advise on the most appropriate flea product to treat fleas.
Ringworm isn’t actually a worm but a fungal skin infection, and one that tends to be mild and minor but also quite hard to eradicate.
Ringworm cause circular patches of fur to stand proud on your cat’s skin and eventually fall out, leading to the signature round bald patches that indicate the condition’s presence.
Your vet will be able to diagnose a ringworm infection in your cat, and provide medication to treat it. Once the issue is resolved, your cat’s new fur growth will cover the previous bald areas. It is also a good idea to point out that ringworm is zoonotic, and can be passed to humans, so bear this in mind and take care when treating and handling a cat with ringworm.
Most cats dedicate a large amount of time to grooming themselves, and they are often very finnicky about doing so. However, even given the extensive grooming that most cats undertake, some continually groom their coats to the point of obsession, or like a form of feline OCD.
Excessive grooming may cause sparse patches or bald patches to develop on your cat’s skin, and some cats even deliberately pull sections of their own fur out while grooming too. This type of behaviour is more common in certain pedigree cat breeds like the Siamese, particularly when the cat is stressed out.
If your cat is pulling out their fur or grooming to the point of baldness, it is really important to ask your vet to investigate. If the problem is behavioural in nature, this needs to be addressed – but it is also vital to find out whether or not an underlying issue or health problem might be causing your cat to behave in this way, as this too will require treatment.
Cats are quite sensitive pets that don’t like change and upset, and that can be fairly prone to suffering from stress. If your cat is stressed or unhappy they might begin to lose physical condition, and this may go as far as extending to loss of fur. Additionally, a cat that is stressed is more likely to groom themselves to excess or exhibit other problematic or undesirable behaviours, like inappropriate toileting.
Your vet can help you to identify the causes of stress in your cat’s life and advise on mitigating them, which will in turn help your cat to feel secure and allow them to regain their status quo and previous physical health.