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Health, Disease & Diet Find out the best tips and practices on managing your cat's diet, health care, and issues with diseases from our community of animal lovers

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Old 08-22-2008, 11:11 PM
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Default Point to Ponder - Hair Loss

AN OUNCE of PREVENTION…
So many variables can cause feline hair loss, but it is generally a sign of poor health at worst and an allergy problem at best. The best way to avoid hair loss caused by allergies and poor diet is to feed your cat a healthy food from the onset.

Diet
Choose a food high in protein, where the first ingredient is meat, preferably salmon or turkey. Other meats, such as beef or even chicken, will not provide your cat with all the necessary nutrients. The best foods are not necessarily those made specifically for a type of cat, for example, “indoor cat formula.” The best foods will have the best ingredients for maintaining cat health. Turkey and salmon are both considered meats a cat would eat without human intervention, and both offer the most digestible proteins for felines. Some veterinarians warn that fish-based foods can lead to hyperthyroidism; however, this is generally only the case with very low end foods. To avoid this disorder, augment your cat's diet with a Vitamin E and Vitamin B supplement. Always choose dry food unless your cat is elderly or your cat’s veterinarian recommends otherwise.

Environment
If you allow your cats to enjoy the outdoors, be sure they are up to date with all vaccinations. Not only will this keep them from experiencing any preventable illnesses that could cause hair loss, vaccinations will also stave off much more serious and possibly fatal diseases.

For your outdoor cat, use a preventative treatment that protects against all critters that can cause feline hair loss and other serious problems, including fleas, mites, heartworms, ringworm and ticks. The most common treatments that cover all these bases are Frontline™ and Revolution™.

Feline Hair Loss Causes
Hair loss in cats is generally caused by one of the four following disorders:

Cushing’s disease
Addison’s disease
Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism

Cushing’s Disease
Cushing's disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a somewhat common cause of feline hair loss. Other syptoms that will occur concomitantly are an increased apetite and thirst as well as mild to severe lethargy. You may notice that your cat's skin seems thin, or the petting your cat once enjoyed may now agitate it. The hair loss associated with Cushing's disease is bilateral, meaning what is missing on one side of the animal's body will be almost exactly the same as what is missing on the other. Generally, this hair loss is located on the mid to lower abdomen but can technically occur anywhere on the body.

Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease is caused by hypoadrenocorticism, which is a serious decrease in adrenal activity that causes everything from lethargy to change in skin tone and hair loss. Sometimes, there are no indicators, but typically, one of the first noticeable signs is feline hair loss.

Addison’s disease is uncommon in cats, and is generally brought on by a cancer such as lymphosarcoma or less commonly by an underlying disorder of the pituitary gland. Chances are, if this is the cause of your cat’s hair loss, the treatment will be more to keep the animal comfortable than to treat the illness in its elevated stages. The good news is this is most likely not the cause of feline hair loss.

Hyperthyroidism
As the most common disorder that felines experience, hyperthyroidism is also the leading cause of feline hair loss. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, a curb or complete standstill in grooming, excessive thirst and urination and insatiable appetite. Luckily, in most cases, hyperthyroidism can be easily controlled with medication or radioactive iodine therapy.

Hypothyroidism
Hypothroidism causes feline hair loss due to a hormone imbalance as well as the animal's excessive grooming. A cat with moderate to severe hypothyroidism will lick and bite until the skin is dry and flakey and clumps of hair are falling out. Other accompanying symptoms include overeating, moderate to severe weight gain, lethargy and very dry coat. For more information about hypothyroidism in cats, click here.

If your cat displays these symptoms along with vomiting or the cat has previously been diagnosed with diabetes, get emergency care for the animal immediately; your pet may be suffering from Feline Kidney Disease.

Other Causes of Feline Hair Loss
Generally, if your cat has tested negative for any of the above disorders, the underlying issue will likely be allergies. If not, some of the below may be the prognosis in your cat:

Notoedres Cati
In some cases, feline hair loss can be brought on by other lesser-known causes, such as notoedres cati — a parasite that causes alopecia in cats. Hair loss from notoedres cati is seen on the ears, neck, eyelids and other facial and upper body regions. While most people have never heard of notoedres cati, it is the second most common parasite in cats.

Fleas
If a flea infestation is bad enough or your cat has particularly sensitive skin, hair loss may occur. Itching skin that is hard to reach through dander and fur becomes your cat’s only focus. To stop the itching, Fluffy will go to any lengths, including biting off hair in the bothersome area to get to the agitated skin. cats with fleas should be treated immediately to avoid further more serious complications to overall feline health.

Last edited by fantasticat; 08-22-2008 at 11:18 PM.
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