Understanding Alopecia in Cats, What Might be Causing it, and its Treatment

Cats are extremely adorable because of their enchanting character – their eloquent style, composed behavior, and playful antics. But what adds greatly to a cat’s delightful charm is her coat. Regardless of length, a cat’s fur is definitely her crowning glory. There are instances, however, when a cat sheds off her hair. Although it can be normal at times, persistent and extensive hair loss can be a sign that your cat is suffering from alopecia.

Alopecia In Cats
What is alopecia in cats?

Alopecia is the partial or total hair loss in cats. It may either affect a cat’s whole body or just certain segments of the skin. Apart from shedding of hair, alopecia may also be accompanied with scabs and lumps in the skin, skin loss, and redness. Alopecia affects symmetrical segments of the skin, although it may also affect random portions of a cat’s skin. Cats aged one to ten are at relatively higher risk of alopecia as compared to cats in different age groups.

Causes of alopecia in cats

There is a wide range of conditions that may increase the risk of alopecia in cats, among them are:

  • Excessive grooming – Excessive grooming is considered among the most common causes of alopecia. Over grooming in cats can be a sign of stress and anxiety 
  • Hormonal imbalance – A cat suffering from an over active thyroid gland may cause her to suffer from alopecia. An abnormally high level of steroid in a cat’s body may also contribute towards its risk
  • Allergies – Substances found in certain cat foods may cause allergies, which may promote hair loss
  • Skin conditions – Mange (a skin condition caused by mites), and fungal infections, such as ringworms, may cause your cat to shed hairs
  • Heredity –  Certain autosomal patterns among cats may increase their likelihood of suffering from alopecia
How vets determine the cause of alopecia

Although a condition in itself, alopecia is oftentimes a manifestation of an underlying health condition. To determine what might be causing alopecia, your vet may perform a thorough physical examination to check for any existing skin condition or infection that causes the hair fall. For any skin abnormality that causes hair loss, such as lumps, lesions, and scabs, a sample would be taken to determine its cause and treatment. 

In some instances, vets may use imaging tests to see if the alopecia is caused by cancer or any other abnormalities in the cat’s adrenal glands. By testing the cat’s hormonal levels through a complete blood count, the vets can also successfully determine if the cat’s alopecia is caused by hormonal imbalance.

Treatment options for alopecia in cats

Treating alopecia is entirely dependent on its cause. For alopecia caused by skin conditions, topical treatments to fight against infectious agents might be prescribed. In some cases, alopecia-causing skin conditions that cannot be treated with topical creams are treated with medications and intravenous drugs. Medications may also be prescribed to treat any hormonal imbalance that causes hair loss. For cancer, different regimens may also be prescribed for treatment.

For hair loss caused by allergies, it is important to determine the substances or particles that trigger her alopecia. If the allergen is found in her food, changing her diet might help her decrease the risk of allergy. Also, check for any fabrics, rubber or plastic materials, cleaning products, dust pollens, grass, weed, and smoke that  might be causing your cat’s allergic reaction and eliminate them.

If your cat’s alopecia is caused by over grooming, chances are she is suffering from stress and anxiety. Spending more time with her can be extremely beneficial in decreasing her level of anxiety and stress, which in turn may help deal with her alopecia. You may also want to check if her living environment causes her to be stressed and anxious. By knowing what makes her feel uncomfortable, you will know how to prevent stressful circumstances that can trigger alopecia.

While it can sometimes be normal for certain cats, alopecia can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you believe your cat is suffering from alopecia, it is best to see a veterinarian for prompt diagnosis and medical intervention. After all, taking better care of your cat means being responsive to her health needs.