Excessive Shedding in Cats

Shedding is a natural process in cats, but excessive shedding can be a warning sign of a disease. Outdoor cats tend to shed more in spring and keep their warm coat for the winter months. Indoor cats may shed all year long.

Causes of Excessive Shedding

Excessive shedding can be due to a lot of environmental factors or internal problems.

A cat with a diet poor in essential nutrients may lose hair in excess.

Inhalant allergies can cause hair loss. An allergic cat has itchy skin and he will groom himself excessively, chewing and scratching the hot spots.

Other allergies may also cause the thinning of a cat’s coat:

  • Food allergies
  • Sun
  • Medication, especially penicillin or sulfonamides
  • Parasites and bites

Bacterial infections on the skin may also cause hair loss, and fungal or yeast infections can lead to excessive shedding.

Hyperthyroidism is caused by dysfunctional thyroid gland that will lead to the secretion of too many thyroid hormones. This will result in shedding.

Feline Cushing’s disease is an excess of corticosteroids in the body. The condition causes excessive shedding, acne, seborrhea, increased thirst and urination. The condition can be fatal.

Stress may also cause excessive shedding. Stress can be triggered by loss, changes, jealousy or illnesses. Stressed cats will have behavioral changes, will be irritable and may refuse to eat.

Pregnant and lactating mothers may lose more hair than usual, due to hormonal changes. This is a natural process, and the cat should get back to normal after the lactation period.

Granulomas can cause hair loss. A granuloma is a nodule that may be caused by infections; a biopsy is necessary to establish if the nodule is benign or malign.

Chemotherapy will also cause excessive shedding. Once the treatment is discontinued, the hair will grow back normally.

Cat Alopecia

Alopecia is a condition that causes baldness in cats. Very little is known about the causes of the disease. It is believed that it's either an autoimmune disease or a hereditary condition.

A cat with alopecia will not suffer from itchy skin; he only displays bald patches. The hair grows back without medication, but the condition is recurrent.

The triggers of shedding episodes in alopecia have not yet been established.

Treatment Options

The treatment for cat hair loss is linked to the underlying cause.

Allergies can be controlled with antihistamines and steroids.

Hair loss due to infections should be treated with antibiotics.

A change in diet may also be needed to prevent hair loss. Talk to your vet about the recommended supplements and an optimal diet.

Preventing Excessive Shedding

If your cat is not losing hair due to an internal problem or disease, you can prevent excessive shedding with a regular grooming program. Groom your cat at least 3 times per week. Remove all the dead hairs, dirt and feces that may get caught in the cat’s fur. You should also inspect the cat’s skin for granulomas or possible rashes.

Consult with the vet if you notice any abnormalities or bald patches.