What Causes Cat Hair Loss?

Posted by Katherine Ripley
Kelli Gaskill/Flickr

The causes of cat hair loss range from innocuous to dangerous.

Hair loss is a relatively common problem for cats, and it can occur for a variety of different reasons. Some cats who experience hair loss only lose a little bit of hair, and others might lose all of their hair. The hair loss does not necessarily appear in any pattern.

Here are some potential causes of cat hair loss:

1. Overgrooming

It's possible that your cat could be grooming herself so much that her hair is falling out. This is probably a sign that something else in her life is making her nervous or anxious.

Kurt Bauschardt/Flickr
Kurt Bauschardt/Flickr

2. Parasites

Certain skin parasites take up residence in cats and cause mange, which causes hair loss. A ringworm infection can also cause hair loss. If your cat's exposed skin is red, bumpy, or scabby, she might have a skin infection.

3. Allergies

Believe it or not, cats can get allergies just like humans can. Whereas humans might get itchy and bumpy when we get an allergic reaction, cats might lose their hair.

4. Hormonal Imbalances

Cat hair loss can be caused by an imbalance in the thyroid. If your cat is losing hair but her skin does not appear irritated, the cause of your cat's hair loss is likely internal.

5. Cancer

Hair loss is common in older cats that have been diagnosed with cancer. But if your cat does have cancer, you will probably see more symptoms besides hair loss, such as weight loss, trouble eating or swallowing, trouble going to the bathroom, and unexplained sores or lumps.

6. Mercury Poisoning

If your cat eats a lot of tuna, she could be losing her hair because her mercury intake is far too high. Mercury poisoning in humans has been documented to cause hair loss, and it can have the same effect in cats.

Matú? Benian/Flickr
Matú? Benian/Flickr

What should you do if your cat is experiencing hair loss?

It's a good idea to take your cat to the vet. The vet can determine whether your cat has a skin parasite, a thyroid or other hormonal problem, or cancer. If your cat has any of these conditions, there are meditations the vet can prescribe to address the problem.

If the vet determines that your cat is not suffering from any of those ailments, he might conclude by process of elimination that the cause is over-grooming or allergies.

To prevent hair loss from over-grooming, try to deal with the root problem which is your cat's anxiety. She may feel anxious because there has been a sudden change that she cannot cope with, she is not getting enough attention, or she feels insecure in her home.

If the vet thinks the cause is allergies, try to eliminate any potential triggers for an allergic reaction, such as fabrics, plants, and soap, if you give your cat baths.

Lastly, if you feed your cat a lot of tuna, try switching to white fish or poultry. If the hair loss is caused by excessive mercury intake, a change in diet will fix it.

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What Causes Cat Hair Loss?