What is Balding?
Cats can go bald in several different ways; some cats may lose hair in uneven clumps while others will lose their fur in symmetrical patterns. In some cases, the loss of hair is accompanied by other symptoms such as crusting of the skin and lesions, and in other cases the underlying skin is unaffected.
- Endocrine dysfunction
- Pattern baldness
- Psychogenic alopecia
Why Balding Occurs in Cats
Cats may begin balding for many reasons, some of which are harmless and others which may be more serious. Cats can be afflicted with disorders as diverse as pattern baldness, infections, or psychogenic alopecia.
Feline allergies are most obvious on the skin of the animal, causing itching and swelling that can cause your cat to lick or scratch themselves raw. The constant irritation to the skin can cause hair to be dislodged or weakened and may lead to bald patches. Environmental and contact allergies are often diagnosed using intradermal skin tests whereas food allergies are diagnosed by employing an elimination diet.
Certain dysfunctions of the endocrine system can cause a cat’s hair to fall out. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause skin damage and hair loss. Hyperadrenocorticism, better known as Cushing’s disease, is also an illness known to cause loss of hair, usually starting in the abdominal area.
One of the more common causes of loss of hair and balding in felines is infestation by parasites. Some of the frequent parasites that cause hair loss include fleas, mites, and lice and treatment is required as leaving infestations untreated may lead to skin infections and anemia.
Pattern baldness is a condition that afflicts cats as well as humans and usually is uncomplicated and painless. Cats with pattern baldness usually lose their hair in an oval pattern that sits between the bases of the ears and out towards the eyes
This disorder is generally considered a behavioral or emotional disorder and is characterized by overgrooming, or grooming which causes the loss of hair and is prioritized over other activities. This condition is often triggered by recent environmental changes or chronic stress in the animal’s life.
Although ringworm sounds like a parasite, it is actually an infection caused by a fungus that attacks the skin. The bald spots caused by this disease are ring-shaped and often have flaky, crusty skin underneath.
What to do if your Cat is Balding
If you see baldness developing on your feline, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to examine the cause. There are some causes of hair loss that are not a cause for concern and don’t require any medical intervention, but the majority of the sources of hair loss in cats will benefit from some sort of treatment.
Recent changes in environment and diet will be evaluated in to see if any of the altered circumstances may be causing the animal any undue stress or anxiety. If no additional trigger to the loss of hair can be determined, additional testing will be completed to get an accurate diagnosis. Damaged skin and flaking or crusting on the exposed skin will prompt the examining veterinarian to collect a sample of skin from the affected area which will be examined microscopically using a technique known as cutaneous cytology. This procedure allows for the detection of any parasites such as mites or tick, as well as some things that are even smaller, including certain types of fungus and bacteria.
The patient’s medical history will be examined, including any medications or supplements that are being administered, and any recent activities and interactions. General diagnostic tests, including a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and a urinalysis, can help to uncover or rule out bacterial or fungal illnesses that have become systemic as well as hormonal issues. They may even reveal the presence of eosinophils, a type of blood cell that frequently indicates a recent response to an allergen. If allergies are suspected as a cause of the baldness, then your veterinarian may elect to perform an intradermal allergy test, in which minuscule amounts of the suspected allergen are injected directly under the skin in a grid pattern to establish if a localized reaction develops. Depending on the particular situation your cat is experiencing an appropriate treatment plan may include allergen immunotherapy, dietary adjustments, or the administration of antibiotic or antihistamine drugs.
Prevention of Balding
Abnormal amounts of hair loss and balding may be due to several endocrine disorders involving the thyroid gland as well as disorders such as Cushing’s disease, which is generally caught earlier when the cat receives regular veterinary treatments thanks to routine blood tests. Common parasitic causes of hair loss in cats can be avoided by ensuring that the most appropriate parasite prevention treatments are administrated in a timely manner and maintaining proper skin and coat maintenance through both diet and grooming routines frequently prevents the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria or fungus. Flaking and crusting of the skin may be reduced by the use of Omega-3 treatments, vitamin supplementation, and regular, thorough washing and brushing to keep both the coat and the skin healthy and supple. Feline bodies age over time, and as they grow older their nutrition requirements may change; in some cases, elderly animals may need to be switched to a senior food, specially designed to be more digestible for their systems.
Cost of Balding
The cost to treat cats who experience balding and hair loss is dependent on the underlying cause of the disorder. Disorders related to allergic dermatitis or thyroid disorders average around $500, and ear mite infestations may only cost around $200 to correct. Overall, on average disorders relating to baldness in cats average around $400 to treat.
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