Humans aren't the only ones affected by hair loss. Cats can go bald too, although this is rarely a natural result of aging, as it usually is for people. Localized baldness in felines can have a number of causes, including diseases, allergies and environmental factors.
Allergies are a relatively common problem for cats, especially those that spend a lot of time in dirty or dusty areas, like unfinished basements or crawlspaces. Outdoor cats come into contact with potential allergens daily, particularly during the spring when plants produce pollen. Keeping your house clean by vacuuming and dusting regularly helps reduce your cat's exposure to allergens indoors. Restricting his access to undesirable or dangerous areas is helpful too. Dietary allergens may also be causing your cat to shed. If your pet is also having digestive troubles, then food allergies are a likely suspect.
Microbial infections and physiological problems can cause your cat to lose hair at an alarming rate. Balding is associated with metabolic dysfunction, including problems with kidney, liver and bladder function, according to DrBarchas.com. Hair loss accompanied by any other unusual health symptom warrants a trip to the vet. There's a good chance your pet's hair loss is not the result of a serious problem, but there's no point in taking a chance with your furry friend's health.
Various skin disorders can also cause excessive shedding. Ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin—not caused by worms at all—is a prime candidate. It dries out skin tissues and creates round, ring-shaped rashes. Ringworm is localized, but it can spread quickly if it is not treated. It is highly contagious, so other animals and humans in the house are at risk as well. Practically any problem that makes your pet itch can cause local baldness. As your cat repeatedly scratches the same area, he damages the skin and pulls hair out with his claws. Many skin disorders can be cured with a simple topical treatment, which you should apply only under the direction of a veterinarian.
You may not want to think about it, but if your kitty is steadily losing hair then he may be playing host to some undesirable parasites. Fleas, ticks and mites are nasty little creatures that sustain themselves at your pet's expense. They eat away at your cat's skin and drink his blood. The saliva they release as they feed is an irritant, which makes your dog's skin itch and can produce rashes. Control an infestation of pests by bathing your cat with specialized shampoo or by regularly applying topical pest control products. Discuss your pest management options with a veterinarian to find the best solution for your situation.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.