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Causes of hair loss in cats (Alopecia)

Thursday, March 24, 2011
posted by Jim Murphy

cat-asleepThere are many diseases that can cause a cat to lose it’s hair. Some conditions would be considered normal but some could indicate a serious condition. . If your cat is suffering from hair loss, it could result from anything from an allergic reaction to hyperthyroidism. It’s important to have your cat checked by a vet as soon as possible.  Some conditions require pet medication prescribed by your vet. Here are a few possible causes.

  • Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis – An allergic reaction following exposure to antibiotics applied to the skin; metals such as nickel; materials such as rubber, wool, and plastic; chemicals such as dyes and carpet deodorizers; or inflammation caused by irritating substances such as poison ivy. Generally requires multiple exposures. Symptoms include red skin and small bumps or blisters on the areas of skin that are sparsely haired and directly exposed to the offending substance; itching; hair loss in chronic conditions.
  • Alopecia areata – Thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms include Patches of hair loss especially on head, neck, and body; no itching.
  • Bacterial infection  – Often occurs as a result of another condition such as a parasitic, allergic, or hormonal condition.
  • Chemotherapy – Loss of hair due to chemotherapy is a concern for cat owners. Cats lose guard hairs so coat becomes soft and fuzzy; may lose whiskers
  • Drug or injection reaction – Rare skin reaction to a drug which is inhaled, given orally, or applied topically; more common with penicillins, sulfonamides, and cephalosporins; usually occurs within 2 weeks of giving the drug.
  • Food Allergies – Allergic reaction to something in the diet. Symptoms include Licking of feet, inflamed ears, itching, redness, and hair loss; sometimes development of infection or hot spots.
  • Hyperthyroidism – Approximately 1/3 of cats with this disease will have skin lesions; caused by excess secretion of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include Hair loss; hair easily pulled out; seborrhea; cats may overgroom and cause ‘hot spots’.
  • Ringworm – Infection with several types of fungus. Symptoms include Hair loss, scaly and crusty areas; some itching.

There are many more conditions. Always check with your vet if your cat has any unexplained hair loss. The information above was provided by Pet Education.Com.




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