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Your Cat's skin

Loss of fur

My cat's going bald!

What's going on?

Hair loss (alopecia) is a common problem in cats. Bald patches may be symmetrical or random on the cat's skin and can have a range of causes.

Causes

Hair loss can be caused by a lack of hair growth due to underlying disease, but hairs may also be broken off due to overgrooming or an imbalance of the skin barrier ecosystem.

Common conditions causing hair loss in cats include:

  • flea-bite hypersensitivity and other parasites,
  • fungi (ringworm) or baterial overgrowth,
  • allergies (atopy, food, contact)
  • hyperthyroidism,
  • stress or pain-induced overgrooming.

Less common causes include sebaceaous adenitis, pseudopelade, autoimmune disorders, Cushing’s disease, feline hyperaesthesia and cancer.

Signs

Bald patches or areas with decreased hair density appear. The underlying skin of the area concerned can seem normal or it can show redness, bumps, scabs and crusts. Sometimes, the condition is itchy and the cat will constantly lick or scratch the area which is the cause of alopecia.

As the cat's hair density is important (more than a dog) and as their hair diameter is rather uniform, it can be difficult to assess a partial hair loss. It's then easier to see patchy alopecia than diffuse alopecia.

Note that a decreased hair density in the area between the eye and ear can be completely normal. Consult your vet, who will focus on identifying the underlying problem and will advise you on managing the condition.

6 tips for healthy hair and happy cats

Providing relief of the irritation and restoring a healthy skin barrier ecosystem are the main goals of supportive care. In case of stress-related overgrooming, your vet will advise you on how to help your cat cope with stress.

  1. Consult your veterinarian to identify the problem and treat any underlying condition. Remedies will depend on the diagnosis. 
  2. Help control the skin condition by using a high quality shampoo, mousse or micro-emulsion spray to soothe the irritation and to restore the skin's ecosystem. Most cases will benefit from special formulas for irritated, itchy and sensitive skins.
  3. Feed your cat a high-quality, balanced diet. Supplement with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals if and as recommended by your vet. 
  4. Keep your cat free from parasites: treat against fleas, ticks and worms on a regular basis.
  5. If your cat seems anxious or stressed, ask your veterinarian for advice about stress-relieving feline pheromones. For advice on recognising stress in cats, check this App.
  6. Schedule regular check-up consultations with your veterinarian to watch your cat's skin condition. You can also send pictures of your cat to show the evolution.

For more information on feline pheromones go to the Feliway website.

Check out this free app for advice on recognising stress in cats on Apple Store: Cat Stress

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