The three most important steps of cat care and why you need to see your veterinarian if you notice excessive hair loss in your cat.
Did you know that sixty-eight percent of U.S. households own a pet? That’s about 85 million families! The number of pet owners has tripled since the 1970s and continues to grow.
Americans spend a whopping $50 billion a year on their pets so it’s no surprise that nine out of ten pet owners consider their animals as part of the family.
The Responsibilities Of Cat Ownership
If you are reading this article, then you probably belong to one of the 47.1 million households in the USA that keep one or more cats. That’s a total of 94.2 million pet cats!
If you are new to the world of cat ownership or have had a feline companion for years, you need to know the basics of cat care.
Make sure you always buy the best quality kitten or cat food that your budget allows. Look for ones that are specifically formulated for the age, activity levels and health of your cat/s.
You can choose from wet or dry food and some cats even love to chew on raw chicken wings or necks. This is also great for keeping their teeth clean. If they don’t like raw meat or bones, find oral care kibble. These work like a toothbrush as they chew on them because they are a larger sized pellet.
One very important thing to note is that cats need taurine in their diets. Taurine is an essential amino acid and helps to maintain heart and eye health. It is present in meat but not in plants. Choose food that contains taurine as a key ingredient.
In addition, always have fresh, clean water available to your cats and keep their bowls clean and refilled daily.
Cats are great at grooming themselves. In fact, cats can spend up to half their day grooming (and the other half sleeping!). This means that their coats usually don’t require very much attention from their owners.
With a cat, you will notice the vast amount of hair that they leave every place they sit. Rest assured that shedding is normal.
You can’t stop cat hair shedding, but you can help to reduce the amount of shedding (and revolting hairballs) with frequent brushing with a good quality pet brush.
One of the best ways to ensure your cat stays healthy is by making sure they have regular check-ups.
Your veterinarian will talk to you about your cat’s nutrition, activity levels, litter box habits and ask you if you have noticed any changes in your cats’ health or behavior.
Of course, if you are concerned about your cat’s health, don’t wait for their yearly checkup. Make an appointment to see your veterinarian straight away.
Why Is My Cat Losing Hair? What Causes Hair Loss In Cats?
One common reason that cat owners seek veterinary advice is that of excessive hair loss. This is hair loss that is significantly more noticeable than regular shedding.
For example, if you notice bald patches.
The Two Different Types Of Feline Hair Loss
Alopecia is a condition that presents with a partial or complete lack of hair in areas where it should normally grow.
2. Acquired Hair Loss
Acquired hair loss means that the cat was born with a normal hair coat but has later lost large amounts of fur due to disease, infection, skin trauma or poisoning.
The 12 Underlying Causes Of Acquired Hair Loss In Cats
The presence of parasites is one of the most common causes of scratching, excessive grooming and hair loss in cats.
Bald spots appear when a cat has a reaction to the saliva of a flea and will generally appear on a cat’s back and hindquarters. Luckily it can be easily treated with medicated topical drops and once the infestation is treated, the hair should grow back.
Just like humans, cats can have allergic reactions to medications, pollen, dust, grass, mold, food or materials, such as rubber and plastic. Even chemicals in carpets can affect cats.
These allergies usually cause the cat’s skin to become itchy and irritated, and the subsequent over scratching and licking in these areas may lead to hair loss.
3. Bacterial Disease
Abnormal shedding may be caused by a bacterial disease. It most often occurs when a cat’s immune system is weakened. The source of bacteria is usually dirty contaminated water, feces or undercooked meat.
Your veterinarian will treat bacterial infections with a prescription of antibiotic drugs.
About 6 million cats are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States and in older cats with cancer, hair loss is common.
5. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal (increased levels of steroids) or thyroid imbalances (too much thyroid) can also cause the loss of hair in cats. There are medications and topical treatments available to treat these causes.
6. Fungal Infection (Ringworm)
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that humans can also contract and will cause hair loss around a cat’s feet, face and ears.
Treatment for ringworm can include a cream or ointment or an antifungal shampoo.
7. Poor Nutrition
Cats are strict carnivores, which means that they need to get their nutritional needs met by eating a large amount of animal-based proteins. They do not need a lot of grains or vegetables in their diet.
If your cat is not getting sufficient nutrition, it can result in hair loss.
8. Congenital Abnormalities Or Heredity
Congenital hair loss, meaning that the hair loss present at birth, is caused by a lack of development of hair follicles. It may also be hereditary and have been passed through the parents’ genes.
Diabetes can cause cats to lose weight, stop grooming themselves and become excessively thirsty. It can also be a reason for hair loss.
If your cat suffers from arthritis, it is not uncommon to find that there is hair loss around the joint areas.
11. Glandular And Autoimmune Disorders
Diseases such as Cushing’s Disease (when the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol) can cause cats to lose hair along the sides of their bodies. Although a relatively rare disease cats, it is more likely to affect older female cats.
12. Nervous Disorders And Stress – Why Do Cats Pull Their Hair Out?
Often over-grooming and the resulting hair loss is related to stress. It may be due to a recent move, change in routine or even boredom. Your vet will then decide whether or not you need to change something in your cat’s environment or she needs anti-anxiety medication.
Have you had any experience with your cat losing excessive amounts of hair? What was the reason and what did you do about it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!