Causes of Cat Hair Loss

Cat hair loss can occur anywhere on your cat's body. Excess shedding and patchy hair loss can be a sign of allergy, skin infection, parasites or illness.

Allergies Can Cause Hair Loss

A food allergy can cause hair loss in cats. An over-active immune response to corn, wheat or soy can cause itchy, irritated skin and subsequent hair loss as your cat scratches and rubs.

There are increasing numbers of hypoallergenic foods available for allergic pets. Read labels carefully and choose a food with the least number of ingredients. Doing so reduces the chance of an allergic reaction.

Hair Loss from Skin Infections

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that affects cat skin, hair and claws. Symptoms include patchy hair loss accompanied by itchy, scaly or reddened skin, usually around the face, ears and tail.

If the fungus is affecting the paws of your cat, claw covers may be loosened as she chews to relieve the itch. In both cats and kittens, whiskers can break off due to prolonged facial itching and rubbing.

A fungal culture will provide confirmation of a ringworm infection. Treatment should begin immediately and all living areas cleaned and disinfected. Ringworm is highly contagious so other pets should be treated as well, even if they are not showing symptoms.

Hair Loss from Fleabite Dermatitis

Recent advances in flea treatments have made the yearly battle with fleas much easier than in the past. Monthly topical or oral treatments have spared many cats and dogs the season-long torment associated with a flea infestation.

As they bite to take their blood meal, fleas inject an irritating saliva into you cat's skin. Some cats are highly allergic to this substance and it results in a condition known as fleabite dermatitis. In allergic cats, even a single fleabite can cause intense itching and hair loss.

To protect flea-allergic cats, treat monthly with an appropriate flea preparation. For additional protection, living areas and the home perimeter can be treated with sprays and dusts.

Thyroid Conditions Can Cause Hair Loss

If your cat's hair loss is accompanied by sudden weight gain, lethargy and cold intolerance, it could be a treatable thyroid condition. The thyroid gland produces hormones that aid and assist in metabolic functions. When too little hormone is produced due to a thyroid malfunction, a condition known as hypothyroidism occurs.

If tests confirm this condition, daily hormone supplements will be prescribed. Hypothyroidism treatments are typically very successful.

Skin and Coat Care Tips

  • Groom your cat regularly. Brushing and combing reduces the amount of hair your cat swallows, reducing the chance of hairball formation. In addition, brushing stimulates the production of oils to keep your cat's coat soft and shiny.
  • A gentle daily brushing will soothe and calm your cat, eliminating another potential cause of hair loss-stress. Changes to routine, environment and structure can stress your cat and cause excess shedding.
  • Consider adding a fish oil supplement to your cat's daily rations. Also known as fatty acid supplements, they provide nutritional support for healthy skin and coat.

Your cat's fur should be soft and shiny. Sudden changes to her overall condition should be noted and discussed with your veterinarian as soon as possible.