Why Do Cats Shed ?

What are the Causes of Hair Loss in Cats ?
 What are the Causes of Hair Loss in Cats ?


In this publication, What are the Causes of Hair Loss in Cats ? You can find the answer to your question.

The causes of fine hair (hypotrichosis) or bald areas (alopecia) in cats can be divided into three categories:

1. Hair Growth Is Disrupted

More hair does not shed than normal, but hair grows very slowly. The growth cycle of cat hair can be disrupted, for example, by metabolic disorders, or sparse hair growth is congenital. In general, however, hair growth disorders are rarer than previously thought. Until a few years ago, cats with a hormonal (endocrine) disease with symmetrical hair loss were thought to have similar responses, and this was called "feline endocrine alopecia". However, it is now clear that this is so rarely the case. For hyperthyroidism (hyperthyroidism), the most common hormonal disease in cats, bald spots are mainly due to increased cleaning behavior.

Nutritional deficiencies or the rare “telogen effluvium” can also impair hair growth. In telogen effluvium, many hairs suddenly switch from the growth phase to the resting phase (telogen phase) in response to a severe stress event. After about 1-3 months, they all fall out in a short time and bald spots occur in the cat. Telogen effluvium does not require treatment because the hair grows on its own. Some cats develop telogen effluvium after giving birth to kittens.


2. If Hair Roots Are Damaged

These types of feather damage are usually caused by infections:

  • Demodex mites (demodicosis; usually due to an immunosuppressive disease, eg FIV or FeLV),
  • Skin fungi (dermatophytes)
  • Bacterial hair follicle inflammation (folliculitis)

These causes of hairlessness often (but not always) show other symptoms, such as inflamed, clear, frayed skin or dandruff. Demodex mites, in particular, are often difficult to find because they live deep in the skin, in the hair follicle.

3. The Cat Sheds Its Hair By Itself

This is the most common cause of hairlessness and fine hair in cats. The technical term for this is feline self-induced alopecia (FSA).

Experts estimate that 90% of owners don't realize their cats are licking because they like to lick their bald heads. After all, hardly anyone has time to watch around the clock how often and for how long their cat licks its fur. However, there are some clues that can tell you if your cat has the FSA:

Evidence of cat self-induced alopecia

Your cat will only show baldness in the area where it can reach with its own tongue. Bald spots are usually distributed symmetrically over the body. Most often, the cat's belly is bare first.

  • You will find a lot of cat hair in the stool.
  • Your cat is vomiting hairballs (tricobezoar) or you see hairs between her teeth.
  • Especially for cats outside, it is often not possible to understand whether the cat has plucked its own hair at home. In veterinary practice, this is usually very easy with a so-called trichogram:
  • Hair removed from the affected area shows damage from the cat's tongue and teeth under the microscope. They break or wear out and are actually still in the growth phase that can be recognized by the hair follicle (anagen phase).
 What are the Causes of Hair Loss in Cats ?

Why Cats Lick Themselves (Feline Self-Induced Alopecia)

By far the most common cause of FSA is itching.

About three-quarters of all cats lick their heads because they are itchy!

Itching is usually caused by:

  • Parasites, most commonly fleas
  • Allergies: to fleas, environmental allergens (eg pollen) or certain feeds
  • Sometimes cats lick their bald spots where they hurt. In the stomach, for example, due to a painful bladder infection and/or urinary stones.
  • Or cats use excessive grooming to relieve stress. This can develop into what is known as psychogenic leaky alopecia, which behavioral medicine doctors classify as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Is your cat licking its head because it's stressed or scared?

Without knowing your cat, you might say: Most likely not. As studies (eg, Waisglass 2006) have shown, psychogenic alopecia in felines is often misdiagnosed. Only one in ten cats that lick themselves does so because of mental illness.

Finding physical causes of excessive brushing can be difficult and time-consuming at times, but it's well worth it as they are often treatable. A definitive diagnosis of psychogenic alopecia should also be made by a veterinarian who specializes in behavioral issues, after all other medical causes have been ruled out.

However, if there have been any serious changes in your cat's environment that could cause him stress, be sure to report this to your veterinarian. For example:

  • Relocation or other changes in their territory
  • Arrival of a new family member (human, cat or other animal)
  • Loss of a family member
  • Big changes in daily routine

The more precisely the cause of the stress is identified, the more effective behavioral therapy can be. Therapy


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