About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm
Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at www.petethevet.com. His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.
Why Would A Cat Pull Its Hair Out
In other words, your cat is pulling or chewing out his fur due to psychological factors, such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, or stress. This condition is much more common than most people realize. A cat that is chronically stressed may turn to excessive grooming as a means of dispelling his anxiety.
Symptoms Signs And Solutions
If your cat is grooming your hair, it is likely to be using grooming as social behavior. Cats groom other cats in their family group when they like each other and have friendly relationships. The licking also spreads scent, so the cats that sleep together and groom each other smell alike. This creates a sort of “family perfume” that identifies each other as safe and friendly. If the cat suddenly starts out of the blue, maybe she likes the smell of your new shampoo.
When your cats groom you, they aren’t interested in creating proper feline hairdos . More likely, cats that target an owner’s hair simply trigger on the “furry part” of the human and want to share the family scent with proper grooming.
The cat might receive some sort of reinforcement that encourages them to repeat the behavior. Do you talk to the cat and pet it during this grooming? Or it may be enough simply to respond if your cat taps your head to get you to move back into range if you move away.
You can offer kitty a substitute such as a fuzzy stuffed toy, and shoo the cat away from your head to prevent being snatched bald. But in most cases, consider a cat grooming a human’s hair to be a huge compliment and gesture of affection, sort of the kitty equivalent of a petting session. Don’t worry, the cat won’t expect you to become kitty beauticians with a lick and a promise. Petting will do.
Read Also: How Much Should A Cat Eat Daily
Reasons Why Your Cat Is Pulling Out Their Heair
How easy it is to see if your cat is pulling out their fur can depend on the cat. For example, if you have a long-haired cat such as a Persian-type cat, you might not notice patches missing. If we don’t see the cat enough, we may not be able to witness the behavior and think that any missing hair might have fallen out naturally.
If we suspect out cat is pulling out their hair, we should look for patches of hair missing. We might notice this from seeing clumps of hair around the home or even if the cat is gagging more often due to the presence of hairballs. You should also observe them during their grooming routine to see if they are chewing and biting at their fur.
Determining the difference between normal and problem grooming may not be easy at first. However, when a cat is pulling their fur out, you can see they are using excessive force. Eventually patches of skin where hair is missing will appear which are likely to have abrasions or open wounds.
Once you have determined that a cat’s hair loss is due to them pulling their fur out, you will need to understand why they do this. The main reasons are related to:
- Environmental factors
Although often related, it is important to differentiate between a cat pulling out their hair and a cat’s hair falling out on its own.
The Surprising Truth Behind Why Do Cats Pull Their Hair Out
Your cat, on a normal, happy day, will spend from 30 to 50 percent of her waking hours grooming. Cats groom for a number of reasons. They are clean beasts by nature, which is one of the reasons we love them so much. Kitty also grooms because it feels good.
Its a throwback reaction to the good-old-days when Mom was around, and everything was purrfect. It makes Kitty feel happy and content to pet herself. But there are other reasons as well, and if she is over-grooming, it might mean that there is another, more sinister problem.
Perhaps you imagine that you have done something wrong as a pet parent. We tend to think that the reasons cats pull their hair out are because something has changed in their lives. The chances are that your kittys over-grooming is not a psychological problem or a reaction to stress or change at all. The first place to look when your favorite cat is pulling her hair out is a medical condition.
According to Dr. Valerie Fadok, a board-certified dermatologist at North Houston Veterinary Specialists in Spring, Texas, Most cats who pull their hair out have a medical reason, Doctor Fadok says. Behavioral problems are much less common.
Recommended Reading: Blue Buffalo Good For Cats
What To Do If Your Cat Is Pulling His Hair Out
Irrespective of the cause, in all cases where cats are pulling their fur out, it is imperative that they are examined by a veterinarian.
The Happy Cat Handbook – A unique guide to understanding and enjoying your cat!
The vet will ask you for background information about the behavior, what it looks like and when its happening, so its always a good idea to be prepared to give as much information as possible.
Here are some things to look out for:
Why Do Cats Pull Out Their Hair Finding Clues In The Location
Pain from any of the bladder diseases mentioned earlier may cause cats to pull their hair out around their lower abdomen or on the inside or underside of their thighs.
Where male cats compulsively lick down there as a new habit, its important to take a closer look.
Male cats rarely show their private parts, so if their penis is sticking out, then this could be an indicator of Feline Urethral Obstruction.
This may be accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, crying out when picked up, blood in the urine, being unable to urinate and vomiting.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
You May Like: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food
Our Question This Week Was:
Dr. Debra I have a Siamese cat with over-grooming issues, to the point of not having hair on the rear or underside of his body. He has been to the vet and has no signs of fungus or parasites. He is less than one year old and the smallest of the litter. I also have a littermate of his and two other Siamese cats.
Treatment Options For Cats Pulling Hair Out
The most effective treatment is usually based on a combination of veterinary and behavioral intervention.
Veterinarians will treat any underlying disease that is causing dermatological or pain related hair pulling.
At the same time, a behaviorist will put in place a programme focused on making changes to the cats environment and social interactions to remove any stress that could be contributing to the behavior.
Read Also: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food
A Side Effect To Medications
If your kitty is currently on a medication cocktail, they may be itchy because of the medications. While I would not recommend taking your cat off the medications they have been prescribed, I do recommend letting your vet know about the discomfort your cat is having and hope that they can prescribe something different.
Make sure you take note of the medications that affect your cat negatively as youre going to want to avoid it and all similarly composed medications for the long-term future.
Cat Pulling Hair Out In Clumps 3 Major Reasons
Is your Cat Pulling Hair Out In Clumps?
A cat losing her hair can come from many different causes. It may be because she is grooming herself far too much, or that she chews her fur. Cat pulling hair out frequently? Most often than not, the cause of cat hair loss is because of excessive grooming.
A cat grooming herself is a regular sight among cat owners. In fact, cats are known to use fifty percent of their waking time to groom themselves.
However, some cats may begin to do too much grooming. There are time that cat parents may notice their cat pulling hair out with over grooming. This is a big cause for worry because bald spots can develop into skin infections.
There are also cases where the owner will not see the cat in the act of pulling tufts of their hair out, but will see alopecia, or patches of hairless skin on their cats. They may also notice a lot of hairballs lying around when their beloved cat tries to swallow their fur.
Dr. Valerie Fadok, a certified dermatologist from North Houston Veterinary Specialist in spring, Texas, stated that Most cats who pull their hair out have a medical reason.
Though there may be times that the problem is behavioral, Behavioral problems are much less common, the doctor continues.
A kittys coat is the meter of their general health. A healthy looking coat is the sign of a healthy cat. A coat unkempt, over groomed, and bald at some spots is a sign of an underlying health problem, whether physical or behavioral.
You May Like: How To Get Matts Out Of Hair
Is There A Pattern To The Behavior
The pattern of the behavior can also give some important clues as to what could be causing it.
Is it seasonal?
If the behavior is usually worse in the spring and summer and resolves in the winter months this could indicate an allergy to harvest mites, pollens, trees or plants.
Conversely if the behavior only appears during the colder months, it could be a symptom of boredom or frustration.
My Siamese cat Billy sucks the tip of his tail throughout winter, a habit hes got into a result of not wanting to take advantage of the great outdoors and all the stimulation it has to offer, albeit cold and wet.
So, for at least three months of the year I regularly have to put up with being smeared by a wet and gooey tail!
Allergies & Icky Bugs
Just like humans, cats are sometimes born with allergies or develop allergies over time. Although, unlike humans, it can be fairly difficult to pinpoint what your cat is actually allergic to and may become a process of elimination between you and your vet.
A cat who feels an itching sensation will commonly begin to clean themselves, however, if the itching continues cats will resort to pulling out their hair to try to figure out what the cause of the itch is. This hair usually grows back when treated quickly.
Other allergens which are considered common are certain foods , pollen, plants , trees or even dust-mites.
If ever you suspect one of the later as an allergen make sure you document everything your cat has eaten or gotten into contact with and document any changes in their lives. Oftentimes when cats are separated from the allergen all symptoms subside, however, it can take a few weeks or even a few months before results of an allergen are considered conclusive. This depends on how severe the allergy is and what the actual allergen is
Read Also: Can Cats Eat Mayonnaise With Tuna
Blood And Urine Samples
Routine biochemical and hematological profiles and a urinalysis may be carried out to rule out underlying general medical problems including liver and kidney disease, hyperadrenocorticism , and diabetes mellitus.
Extra tests, such as Total T4 measurements, may be carried out to check for hyperthyroidism, and screening for viruses such as Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus may be recommended.
Final Thoughts On Why Is My Cats Hair Coming Out In Clumps
If you were asking yourself Why is my cats hair coming out in clumps? but are still unsure of the exact cause and possible treatment, its best to let the vet diagnose your cat. The conditions Ive talked about are the most likely culprits, and in some cases, you may be able to manage the hair loss yourself. However, only the vet can consider all the symptoms and test blood, urine, and bacterial culture to determine the cause.
Therefore, dont be alarmed by some of the more severe conditions on this list. More often than not, fleas are the reason your cats fur is losing its fluff. So, take it to the vet as soon as possible to begin treating it with some anti-flea shampoo. Neither the cat nor the fleas will love that part, but at least your pet will once again have a shiny, full coat!
Recommended Reading: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food
Top Reasons Why Your Cat Loses Its Fur
There are times during your cats lifetime that you will notice fur thinning, fall-out or even disappearance of fur in clumps. Fur loss can make your cat uncomfortable and more susceptible to infections.
It actually occurs due to several reasons. Therefore, it is paramount to know some of these factors so you can get to the bottom of the situation. Keeping your cats fur in a good condition can help it lead a healthier and more comfortable life. The following are some of the cause of fur loss in cats:
Stress in cats
Sometimes, cats may feel stressed up and show it through excessive scratching. Unusual scratching can lead to large patches of missing hair in cats. In this case, you need to look at your cats environment and look for anything that might have changed. Changes in a cats environment that may affect its fur include death or relocation of another family pet or member and addition of a new pet at home.
Prolonged itching in cats due to the presence of fleas will cause bald patches in your cat. The best way to go about this situation is checking with a veterinary to ensure that the animal is treated and all the fleas are eradicated. Vets can identify the underlying illness in your cat and suggest the best way to maintain your cats fur while it adapts to changes progressively during the recovery period.
Deficits in nutrition
Why Does My Cat Keep Pulling Hair Out
Its scary to find your cat frantically pulling out its own hair. This is not natural behavior. While cats do groom themselves and remove shed hair, its not excessive. A cat thats removing large clumps regularly is experiencing a serious health issue.
You may even find the cat biting, yowling, and scratching at itself. If you find your cat pulling out fur and losing weight, youll need the intervention of a vet. It could mean that your cat is dealing with:
Read Also: Umbrella Tree Pet Safe
Underlying Fungal Or Bacterial Infections
Understand that the problem of your cats pulling hair out can linger, mainly if there is an underlying infection or allergy-like Flea Allergy Dermatitis , FAD. The symptoms itching, for example can take time to clear up after the bugs are banished. If Kitty continues to itch and over-groom long after youve provided her with parasite protection, take her to her vet. A few skin scrapings and tests of other kinds can identify any other issues that can make cats pull their hair out.
Cat Pulling Hair Out What Happens Next
Providing your veterinarian with as much detailed information as possible from your observations of the behavior, as well as any relevant background information should help speed up the process of finding a diagnosis.
Having taken a history, your vet will give your cat a general physical examination to locate any areas of pain, as well as a dermatological examination to identify any areas of lesions or hair loss and how theyre distributed.
Further investigations may be necessary including blood tests, skin biopsies, allergy screening and analysing the cats urine.
Referral to a specialist veterinary dermatologist may be required.
In the absence of any medical cause the vet might then refer you to a cat behavior specialist.
Read Also: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food
Sudden Changes To The Cats Environment
Cats much prefer a day-to-day routine and predictability in their everyday life. As such, sudden changes to their environment can be extremely distressing. They may trigger stress responses in your cat, leading to fur-pulling and weight loss.
Changes to your cats environment go hand in hand with medical causes, allergies, and skin parasite infestations. However, there does not have to be a medical reason for your cat to be stressed. Triggers include:
- Conflict amongst other cats or people
- Changes to well-liked bedding, housing, or toys
- Fluctuations in temperature
- Changing location
- Extreme boredom
Stress can induce what is known as psychogenic alopecia, which is hair loss caused by extreme stress. If your cat is tearing its fur out, but there is no medical explanation, its likely the feline is exhibiting psychogenic alopecia. Compared to normal alopecia, this condition is the forced tearing of any fur from the body. Its not a result of weak hair follicles, making it easier to do so.
Of course, not all environmental changes which cause fur loss are inherently negative. Changes that seem innocent on the surface may lead to hair-pulling. These include:
- Introducing new pets, babies, or children
- Adding new toys, household items, scents
- Having guests over in the house on a regular basis