A cat’s shiny, glossy coat is an indicator of overall health, and it can be heart-breaking to see your cosy, furry bundle of joy with a matted, lank coat or thinning patches of fur. There are a number of things which can cause feline Alopecia, which is defined as excessive hair loss, rather than the normal shedding that affects all cats.
What causes feline Alopecia?
Feline Alopecia falls into 2 basic categories – self-induced or non-self-induced. Self-induced hair loss can be caused by scratching or compulsive over-grooming. Reasons why cats do this can include:
- Food allergies
- Irritant allergies (e.g. cigarette smoke)
- Allergic dermatitis – caused by flea bites/ Notoedric Mange.
- Ear mites
- Bacterial skin infections
As for non-self-induced hair loss, there are a number of more serious conditions which can cause your cat to lose large quantities of hair, including:
- Hyperthyroidism – this can usually be controlled with medication
- Cushings Syndrome
- Feline Acquired Symmetrical Alopecia – this is thought to be a hormonal disorder
Hair loss in your cat could even be due to stress: both chronic stress and sudden trauma can trigger Alopecia Areata in humans and the same is true for cats!
How is feline Alopecia treated?
It’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice unusual hair loss, to find out the underlying cause. Your vet will carry out a range of tests to determine whether the hair loss is self-induced or linked to illness.
Food allergies can be treated by switching to a new diet, whilst fleas or mites can be dealt with easily using insecticide. If your cat is suffering from a skin condition such as seborrhea, your vet may suggest including more Omega-3 in their diet and using a mild shampoo to keep their skin clean and soft. Treatment can vary and will depend on the Alopecia’s underlying cause, but for most cats, their coat will begin to grow back a few months after treatment has commenced and they will soon be back to their purring, contented selves.