One of many distinctive options of cats is their pure inclination to groom themselves completely, maintaining their coats tangle-free, clean and glossy by licking and nibbling their very own coats.
Generally, nonetheless, this pure self-grooming can go too far, with cats beginning to hurt themselves by extreme grooming, pulling their hair out, and inflicting areas of hair loss.
There are a selection of doable the explanation why this could occur. In addition to worrying in regards to the areas of baldness, house owners usually have a priority in regards to the doable improve within the danger of hairballs ensuing from swallowing extra hair when the cat over-grooms.
This text goals to elucidate the assorted doable trigger and to recommend the steps that cat carers can take to make sure that their pet stops partaking on this damaging habits.
The commonest purpose for cats to start out hair pulling is itchiness of the cat’s pores and skin prompted by certainly one of a number of doable underlying causes.
The commonest causes for this are listed under.
- Exterior parasite infestations, together with fleas, and Demodex or Cheyletiella mites (mange)
- Ringworm, also called dermatophytosis
- Allergy symptoms or reactions to meals
- Environmental allergy symptoms, also called feline atopy or atopic dermatitis
- Pores and skin infections including a complication to allergy symptoms
- Underlying medical circumstances resembling Feline Hyperthyroidism and others
If these frequent causes have been dominated out, the more than likely trigger is mostly a situation often called Feline Psychogenic Alopecia, which is a sort of repetitive, compulsive habits linked to emphasize.
It’s essential to interact together with your native DVM veterinarian to make an correct analysis of the explanation why your cat is pulling her fur out. The diagnostic course of might embrace the next steps.
1. Detailed historical past taking
Your veterinarian will need to know solutions to questions on your cat’s background and historical past with hair-pulling. Questions might embrace:
- How lengthy has your cat been pulling her hair out?
- Has your cat visibly been spending extra time grooming herself?
- Which components of her physique are primarily affected?
- How outdated is she?
- What’s her way of life: indoors solely, or indoors and outdoor? Does she share her dwelling with different animals e.g. different cats or canines? In that case, are they itching in any respect?
- Has she had any contact with different cats from outdoors your property (resembling a rescue centre, boarding cattery, and so forth)?
- Are any people within the dwelling affected by itchiness or pores and skin rashes? Are there any adjustments in her dwelling e.g. new bedding, carpets, furnishings, cleansing merchandise, aerosols (resembling room vaporisers), or cigarette smoke?
- Has she began a brand new weight-reduction plan just lately?
- Has she ever been examined for FIV and FeLV?
- Has she been handled with any anti-parasite remedy just lately?
- Has anybody seen something shifting in her coat?
- Are there every other indicators of sickness in your cat (resembling gastrointestinal upsets, sneezing, coughing, elevated thirst, urinary accidents indoors, and so forth)?
- Are there every other adjustments in habits (resembling dullness, elevated agitation, aggression, worry, and so forth)?
2. Bodily examination
Your veterinarian will verify your cat over fastidiously, noting exactly the place the hair has been pulled from, searching for bodily indicators of parasites resembling fleas or mites, and checking for different indicators of pores and skin illness resembling flea bites, rashes, papules, damaged hair, and so forth.
3. Pores and skin and coat assessments
Various pores and skin and coat assessments could also be carried out by your veterinarian to rule out underlying issues which will trigger itchiness that might trigger the cat to tug her hair out, together with:
- Coat brushings to verify for proof of fleas, lice or cheyletiella
- Pores and skin scrapings to verify for mites beneath the microscope
- Acetate tape strips to verify for doable causes together with eggs, yeasts and fungal infections, bacterial infections and different microbiological elements
- Examination of the cat beneath an ultraviolet “Woods” lamp to verify for fluorescence that might recommend ringworm (dermatophytosis).
- Hair pluckings often called “trichoscopy” (analyzing hairs beneath the microscope). That is used to establish hairs which have been broken by the cat pulling at them, and it’s used to rule out causes of alopecia the place hair falls out with out being pulled out (in such instances, no broken hairs can be seen).
4. Blood and urine samples
Routine biochemical and hematological profiles and a urinalysis could also be carried out to rule out underlying common medical issues together with liver and kidney illness, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Illness), and diabetes mellitus.
Additional assessments, resembling Whole T4 measurements, could also be carried out to verify for hyperthyroidism, and screening for viruses resembling Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) could also be really useful.
5. Routine flea therapy
Flea allergy symptoms are a typical reason for pores and skin irritation and hair-pulling in cats. Flea therapy might help to forestall or eradicate an infestation, maintaining your cat snug and wholesome.
Flea allergy is quite common, with research have proven that as much as 70% of cats which might be referred to veterinary dermatologists for itchiness make a full restoration after thorough flea therapy is utilized, even when there isn’t a bodily proof for the presence of fleas.
Because of this, an intensive flea therapy is commonly really useful, together with therapy of all of the animals in the home with an efficient parasiticide (spot on, spray, or oral) in addition to therapy of the home with an efficient environmental spray to cease any flea eggs from growing into younger fleas.
6. Meals Trial
Itchy pores and skin may be seen in cats as an allergic-type response to a protein within the meals. The one method that this may be successfully dominated out is to put a cat on a selected meals trial for six – eight weeks, providing them solely a veterinary-type hypoallergenic weight-reduction plan that doesn’t include proteins able to inflicting allergic-type itchiness.
If this trial is accomplished and the cat remains to be pulling her hair out, the trigger is extremely unlikely to be associated to one thing within the weight-reduction plan.
7. Biopsy of the pores and skin
As soon as parasites, meals allergy, and different underlying ailments have been completely dominated out, the subsequent stage is commonly to hold out a pores and skin biopsy, gathering small samples of pores and skin from areas the place the cat has been pulling hair out.
If the biopsies present adjustments resembling irritation, this will recommend that there’s nonetheless some underlying reason for irritation, whereas if there are not any such adjustments, then the trigger is extra more likely to be behavioral, as in Feline Psychogenic Alopecia.
8. Allergy testing
If atopic dermatitis (allergic response to environmental allergens resembling pollens or mud mites) is suspected, allergy testing could also be really useful.
9. Trial therapy with anti-inflammatory remedy
Generally, veterinarians might recommend a trial anti-inflammatory therapy (e.g. utilizing corticosteroids) for a number of weeks. If there’s an underlying reason for itchiness resembling an allergic response resembling atopy (allergy symptoms to environmental allergens resembling pollens or mud mites), the cat will enhance, whereas if the trigger is Feline Psychogenic Alopecia, the therapy is unlikely to make a major distinction.
Remedy for cats pulling out hair is determined by the underlying reason for the hair-pulling.
After completion of the investigative course of outlined above, your veterinarian will attain certainly one of two doable outcomes, every requiring a unique therapy strategy.
- A analysis might have been manufactured from an underlying reason for itchiness inflicting the cat to tug her personal hair out. In such instances, therapy is geared toward tackling that underlying trigger e.g. anti-parasite therapy, anti-bacterial therapy, anti-fungal therapy and/or anti-inflammatory therapy.
- If all doable underlying causes of itchiness have been dominated out, the remaining doubtless analysis is Feline Psychogenic Dermatitis, which requires a unique therapy strategy.
Feline Psychogenic Alopecia describes a situation the place a cat begins to tug her personal hair out when no identifiable underlying trigger. Put merely, the cat is excessively grooming, and pulling her personal hair out, simply because she desires to do it.
In wholesome cats, grooming is a traditional response to a nerve-racking incident (if any cat is disturbed in any method, they’ll usually transfer away, discover a peaceable spot, then begin to groom themselves).
It’s theorised that grooming in such instances might result in the discharge of pure endorphins, giving cats a way of calm. If a cat is over-stressed, this could then result in over-grooming, virtually like a sort of addictive habits for a repeated endorphin rush, and this in flip can result in pulling hair out, and bald patches.
Feline Psychogenic Alopecia is seen extra usually in multi-cat households and in indoor cats, and it’s extra frequent in some breeds resembling Siamese and different oriental breeds. Usually, hair is faraway from the underside of the stomach, the groin space, and the higher aspect of the cat in entrance of the tail space. Different components of the physique, together with the forelegs, may additionally be concerned.
This situation is linked to cats feeling confused, grooming themselves excessively as a strategy to attempt to cope with this stress. So therapy goals to search out strategy to cut back stress, and to make it simpler for affected cats to deal with stress.
1. Cut back stress
- Perform a evaluation of the cat’s atmosphere, figuring out and resolving any areas of stress (e.g. too many cats in a single space, inter-cat battle, a brand new pet, a brand new child, boredom, and so forth)
- Enrich the atmosphere (e.g. extra interactions with carer, extra and totally different toys, cat bushes, and so forth)
- Seek the advice of with a feline behaviorist for a full evaluation of the cat’s life and atmosphere
2. Assist the cat to cope with stress
- Pheromone merchandise (e.g. Feliway diffusers) might help to cut back anxiousness.
- Clomipramine and fluoxetine are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which may be really useful by your veterinarian to affect cat habits by altering their response to emphasize. Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant and antihistamine which can generally be recommended. All of those merchandise needs to be used with care, solely beneath shut veterinary supervision, as inappropriate use could also be harmful.
Extreme grooming might trigger a cat to tug her hair out inflicting areas of hair loss and baldness. It’s essential in such instances to seek the advice of with a veterinarian in order that the reason for the extreme grooming may be recognized and correctly handled.