Is it Normal for a Cat to Experience Hair Loss?

Do you have a cat? Have you noticed their hair falling out recently, or do they seem to lose hair all the time? When is this normal, and when is it a symptom of something more serious?

Below, you’ll find a quick breakdown of the most common situations in which a cat may lose their hair. With the help of this information, you can determine whether or not your cat’s hair loss is related to a health problem or is part of their normal shedding routine. Read on to find out more.

cat hair loss

What Is Normal Cat Shedding?

Normal shedding is the most common cause of hair loss in cats. If you’ve never had a cat before, or if you have a long-haired cat for the first time, you may be surprised at just how much shedding typically takes place.

Cats shed a little every day and go through two major shedding cycles per year in most instances. When it’s hot outside, your cat may shed even more—so consider the weather and climate to determine whether the hair loss is normal.

Possible Reasons for a Cat’s Hair Loss

There are many different things that could cause a cat to lose hair. Talk with your veterinarian if your pet could be affected by any of these.

Allergies

Allergies can cause hair loss in cats as well. If your cat has seasonal allergies or contact allergies, these may cause their skin to become itchy. Your cat may then lick and scratch their skin to relieve the itching, which will in turn cause hair to fall out, likely in patches.

Additionally, food allergy contributes to hair loss in cats. Cats who are allergic to their food will experience dull, dry, and brittle coats as well as patchy hair loss and dandruff. Try transitioning your cat to a different protein source for their food and upgrading the food quality to see if that helps.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that is not actually a worm at all. It causes a raised, round lesion with a defined edge, which is where it gets its common name. Ringworm can be very itchy and can lead to cats scratching or licking away their hair to relieve the itch.

The lesion itself may also cause your cat to lose hair around the site of the ringworm. If you spot ringworm on your cat, go to the veterinarian, as they will likely need topical medication to treat it. You might also want to go to your own doctor, since ringworm is very contagious to humans.

Fleas

Mild cases of fleas usually won’t cause hair loss. However, moderate to severe cases often do. Cats who have a lot of fleas scratch themselves so much they cause their hair to fall out, and they can also scratch hard enough to break the skin. Both flea infestation symptoms can contribute to skin infections, which only worsen the overall problem.

Keep your cat on a regular topical or oral flea medication to reduce this risk significantly. If you do not want to use this type of medication, an all-natural flea collar may be a good solution instead. Your vet can give you more information about flea prevention choices.

Stress

Just like humans, cats can lose their hair due to stress. It takes a lot of stress for a cat to reach this point, but if your pet has recently gone through some major changes in life, they may be very anxious and upset.

Some examples of stressors that can cause a cat’s hair to fall out include loss of a close human family member, a new baby or other new member of the household, a new pet in the family, or a chronic health problem.

Diabetes

Finally, diabetes may cause hair loss in some cats. This potential cause of hair loss is significantly less common than the others on this list, but it is still a possibility, especially in cats who are obese.

If you have an obese cat who is losing hair and also shows classic signs of diabetes like excessive thirst and urination, take them to the vet for bloodwork. Following a diabetes diagnosis, your vet will work with you to choose the best treatment or management solution for your pet’s needs.

Heart + Paw Can Help with Your Cat’s Hair Loss

Most of the time, mild hair loss is completely normal in cats, especially if it coincides with their shedding routine. In some cats, other patches of hair loss may be normal as well, depending on genetics. However, since hair loss can sometimes indicate a health problem, it’s important to have your cat examined if they are experiencing any recent changes to their coat.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s overall health and wellness, talk to your Heart + Paw vet for more information. Your cat’s vet can help you determine the underlying cause of any new hair loss and can offer suggestions for frequent shedding, too. Book an appointment at any of our locations using the online form!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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