If Fluffy is turning into Baldy, he needs to visit the vet so she can determine what's causing his hair loss. Depending on the diagnosis, your vet might prescribe medications to cure the underlying condition and restore his lustrous coat - or at least turn him into Patchy.
Alopecia is the technical term for hair loss. It can involve small or large areas of your cat's body. Sometimes there are also scabs and lesions on your kitty's skin. Besides a physical examination, your vet will take blood to test your cat's hormone levels, as well as skin scrapings if she suspects an allergy. She may also order an X-ray or ultrasound if she thinks cancer could be the culprit, since cancer often causes alopecia in cats.
Cats with various types of allergies itch and lose hair. If your cat suffers from a food allergy, it might take some trial and error to find the right diet for hair restoration. If it's a flea allergy, treatment is a lot easier. Even one flea can cause an allergic cat to scratch like mad and lose hair. Your vet can recommend a monthly topical or oral flea preventive that should take care of the problem.
If your older cat has patchy hair loss, along with weight loss despite a ravenous appetite, his thyroid hormones could be running amuck, resulting in hyperthyroidism. Your vet can diagnose this condition by testing his blood for circulating thyroid levels. If his thyroid glands are overproducing the hormone, your vet can prescribe methimazole, a medication to control his thyroid levels. There are dietary, surgical and radioactive iodine treatments for hyperthyroidism, but methimazole is the only medication prescribed for the disease.
Cats afflicted with psychogenic alopecia groom the hair right off their bodies. The condition, also known as self-induced alopecia or obsessive grooming, results from behavioral rather than physical issues. You might not realize that your cat's baldness occurs because he's constantly grooming, because much of it might happen out of your sight. Clues include hair loss in the front legs, abdomen, tail and other sites easily reached by kitty tongues. If your see a lot of hair in your cat's poop when cleaning the litter box, along with alopecia, suspect psychogenic alopecia. Your vet might prescribe antidepressants containing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in order to stop the compulsive grooming.
While some medications treat the underlying disease or behavior causing hair loss, certain medicines tackle hair loss itself. Your vet might prescribe treatment that may remedy feline allergic and other dermatitis, eosinophilic plaques and self-induced alopecia. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.