Cat Losing Hair? Tips for Cat Hair Loss in Pewaukee, WI

If you are a cat owner and wonder what’s causing your cat to lose its hair, there may be several reasons why fluffy may be going bald in some places.  Cat hair loss  (alopecia) can occur for many different reasons, but it is very unusual, except in hairless breeds, for a cat to lose its hair for no reason. If you discover bald patches on your cat, you might have to determine the underlying cause of the hair loss.  To find out more about what’s going on, take your cat to your veterinarian in Pewaukee, WI for a complete exam, including blood work, a thyroid function check, and a urinalysis. These tests will help to rule out any metabolic causes of hair loss, such as Cushing’s disease (which is rare in cats), hyperthyroidism, or urinary tract disease.

cat hair loss in pewaukee, wi

Tips for Cat Hair Loss in Pewaukee, WI?

The key to dealing with cat hair loss is to determine the cause, and one study examining cats with a diagnosis of hair loss and over-grooming found that medical causes of itching and hair loss were identified in 76% of the cats, while only 10% of the cases were found to be behavioral. The remaining 14% involved a combination of psychogenic alopecia and medical causes of itching and hair loss.

What Causes Hair Loss in Cats in Pewaukee, WI?

Feline fur loss may be due to parasitic or fungal causes, such as mites, ringworm, mange, stress, or flea allergies in Pewaukee, WI. Cat hair loss can also be due to food allergies, continual licking due to urinary tract issues, as well as metabolic conditions such as hyperthyroidism. Below are some possible causes of hair loss in cats:

  • Fleas.  Fleas can be a common cause of cat hair loss, and parasites that bite (like fleas) can be a source of itching and irritation that can lead to over-grooming and hair loss. If your cat goes outside or lives in a warm climate, fleas can be an issue.  If you suspect that your cat has fleas, contact your veterinarian for suggestions regarding flea prevention.
  • Excessive grooming.   If your cat is healthy and happy, her hair loss may be due to over-grooming, which is a stress response.  Also known as displacement grooming, excessive grooming is thought to be an anxiety-related behavior, and by grooming, the cat tries to lower her stress level, trying to calm herself and deflect aggression from other individuals. It is quite common to see stressed cats suddenly begin to groom themselves.
  • Ringworm.  Ringworm is caused by a fungal parasite called Microsporum canis, which makes it’s home on the hair shaft of the cat’s fur. The cat’s body reacts to this invader shedding hair follicles.  The treatment for ringworm involves shaving the cat’s hair to minimize contamination, and a prescription of oral anti-fungal medication such as griseofulvin, or ketoconazole.
  • Cushing’s disease.  Cushing’s disease, or Hyperadrenocorticism, is an extremely rare condition in cats, and it’s caused by too much cortisol production. Symptoms of Cushing’s in cats include increased hunger and thirst, a potbelly appearance to the stomach, thin skin, and hair loss. Treatment for Cushing’s in cats can be managed with a medication called trilostane that inhibits the glands that produce cortisol.
  • Demodectic mange.  Demodex is a mite that burrows into the skin near the hair shafts, and although it’s rare in cats, it is another cause of cat hair loss. This mite can damage the hair permanently, causing it to shed and result in bald spots.
  • Arthritis.  Cats who have arthritis may lick painful and inflamed joints. If you think that your cat is suffering from arthritis, contact your veterinarian.  This arthritic pain can be controlled with pain medications, nutraceuticals, and laser therapy.
  • Food allergies.  If you suspect that your cat has a food allergy, consult your veterinarian about a hypoallergenic diet.  There are commercial veterinary diets available, and your veterinarian can offer suggestions.  The key to hypoallergenic diets is to not feed anything else, and it may take up to eight weeks to flush your cat’s system of the food allergen.  If your cat suffers from a food allergy, you should see results in eight weeks in Pewaukee, WI on a hypoallergenic diet, and notice less over-grooming and bald spots.
  • Bacterial folliculitis.  This condition involves a bacterial skin infection where the bacteria grow down the hair shaft into the root, causing damage to the hair. Cats typically deal with this by excessive licking and grooming.  Treatment may require medicinal shampoos and oral antibiotics.
  • Psychogenic alopecia.  As mentioned above, stressed cats tend to over-groom because it helps to calm them and deal with anxiety.  Psychogenic alopecia is a psychological condition involving displacement behavior as a response to stress and can result in obsessive-compulsive behavior. Cats with this condition tend to groom the inner forelimbs, the abdomen, the groin region, the tail, or the lower back area.  Cat hair loss occurs specifically in places within reach of the cat’s tongue.

How Do You Reduce Stress in Your Cat in Pewaukee, WI?

Because psychogenic alopecia is caused by stress or anxiety and frustration, there are ways to minimize stress by doing the following:

  • Put perches, climbing posts, beds in areas such as in front of a window, or an elevated quiet area. This can encourage your cat to exercise her natural preference to perch on high surfaces, surveying her kingdom from above.
  • Try pheromones. Products such as Feliway, come in a diffuser that you can plug into an outlet.  It releases a synthetic version of a feline pheromone, creating a calming environment for your cat.
  • Provide private areas to offer privacy, such as a padded cat carrier in a closet, or access to cardboard boxes.
  • Give your cat attention by playing with her and providing interactive toys to stimulate her natural hunting instincts and burn off excess energy.
  • Mix things up by providing enrichment activities such as offering cat grasses or catnip, puzzles and toys, or scattering cat treats on the floor to encourage her natural hunting instincts.

There are many reasons why cats can lose their hair, and research has shown that in the majority of cases, there is a medical reason.  If you have any questions or concerns about hair loss in your cat, contact your local veterinarian in Pewaukee, WI.

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Since 1977, Pewaukee Veterinary Services has provided progressive veterinary medicine to pets of Pewaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and alternative therapies aimed at keeping companion animals healthy and happy. Yet, if your pet is ill, there’s no better place to entrust their care. Our animal hospital in Pewaukee not only has the most advanced veterinary equipment in the area, but also the skilled veterinarians and staff to use it.