2001-Sat Jan 21 16:46:10 MST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Let's face it: If you own a cat, you might as well buy stock in a lint roller company. Unless your kitty is a
Sphynx — a relatively hairless
cat — it’s normal for your little fuzz ball to
shed some hair around the house. (Some breeds may also inherit genes for hair loss, such as
Siamese cats, who often lose hair on their ears.)
But if your cat is losing abnormal amounts of hair, or if you notice
patches of skin devoid of hair, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.
Even if there's absolutely, positively no way that your cat could have fleas, certain patterns of hair loss — especially around the thighs, abdomen, lower back and flanks — are typically caused by them. Many cats with infestations are such good groomers that they lick away any evidence of the buggers. Other tiny external parasites, such as mites and lice, can also cause hair loss.
Cats who are
allergic to their food or inhaled substances may experience hair loss around the head and neck, as well as other areas. The exposed skin may appear relatively normal or it may show signs of a secondary bacterial infection, including inflammation or ulceration. Your veterinarian may recommend a trial with a hypoallergenic food, as well as additional allergy tests to get to the bottom of the problem.
Bacterial or fungal infections, an inflammation of the sebaceous glands, or even
skin cancer can also lead to hair loss in affected areas.
There are many factors that can also disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to sudden hair loss, such as metabolic or endocrine conditions, pregnancy and drug interactions.
Sudden changes in the household — a new baby or pet or even construction workers in the house — can lead to stress and
overgrooming. In this case, the pattern of hair loss tends to be symmetrical and occurs anywhere that the cat can reach with her tongue, including the belly, groin, limbs and flanks. If you find more hairballs than usual on the floor, it may be a clue.
Diseases, such as
hyperthyroidism, can also lead to overgrooming. And
cats with diabetes often have unkempt coats, hair loss and a greater susceptibility to skin infections. Even inflammation in the urinary tract may cause felines to lick the hair off the skin directly above the bladder.
With so many possible reasons for hair loss, it’s not always easy to find the exact cause of the problem. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests, including skin scrapes, fungal cultures, blood panels,
allergy testing, diet trials or skin biopsies to determine the right diagnosis and treatment for your
With proper treatment, your cat will once again have a full, luxurious coat in most cases. And you’ll still need to keep that lint roller handy.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Want to choose the best food for your
pet? Here's why you shouldn't fear
preservatives or fall for marketing…
Electronic cigarettes may be growing in
popularity, but their higher concentrations
of nicotine can poison cats and…
Are you handling your pet the right way?
Our vet shares five things your pup wishes
you knew about picking him up.
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
The laid-back American Wirehair’s crimped, coarse coat requires almost no brushing or combing.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.