Why do cats pull their hair out ? When cats engage in hair pulling behavior you may be frantic to learn why. Sadly, there is no single best answer to the question. Chances are the answer is one of many, many subsets of two answers. Either Kitty has a medical issue or she is over-grooming due to a stressful situation.
In this article:
- The surprising truth
- Medical reasons why cats pull their hair out
The suprising truth
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.
It’s 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 is because something has changed in their lives. Chances are that your kitty’s 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.”
Medical Reasons Cats Pull Their Hair Out
Just like their humans, cats can get itchy. Whether its a reaction to allergies,sensitivity to perfumes or chemicals, diet, or a flea infestation the process of finding the culprit will be a process of elimination. The first place to look is the parasite.
Examine Kitty carefully for evidence of fleas or other external parasites. You may find fleas, ticks, or mites or their “dirt,” (poo,) on your kitty’s skin. It isn’t always easy to find the evidence, particularly if your cat is over-grooming. She is doing her best to dispose of the varmints and their leavings and she will ingest whatever is left behind. Unfortunately, if your cat is allergic to flea bites, just one bite from a single critter can send her into fits of itching that can leave entire sections of her body as bare as the body of the hairless Sphinx breed.
Even if your kitty never sets paw outside the house, fleas can still come calling. Fleas and other parasites are notorious hitch-hikers and can catch a ride on the K-9 members of your family, on Dad’s shoe, or any other thing that found it’s way into your house. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of bugs bent on devouring your kitty’s blood. Be sure Kitty is under the protection of a really effective parasite collar. This could be may be the last step you need to take to stop her itching and, thus, discover why your cats pulling hair out.
Underlying Fungal or Bacterial Infections
Understand that the problem of your cats pulling hair out can linger, particularly 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 you’ve provided her with parasite protection, take her to her vet. A few skin scrapings and/or tests of other kinds can identify any other issues that can make cats pull their hair out.
As with humans, dealing with allergies in your cat is largely a process of elimination. Environmental allergens including dust mites, pollen, or mold can aggravate the skin making cats pull their hair out. Food allergies, or sensitivity to perfumes in kitty litter can also irritate Kitty sufficiently to make her yank out tufts of her own hair. Your vet may recommend allergy testing to pinpoint the cause of environmental allergies or suggest a food trial with a limited-protein diet that breaks the protein into pieces so small that they cannot be recognized by the immune system. In this way, the allergic reaction doesn’t get started in the first place.
When a cat experiences ongoing pain, they may groom more in the area closest to the hurt. If there is arthritis in her joints, for example, kitty may lick and pull hair from those places in an attempt to make it feel better.
In some cases, when cats pull their hair out, stress can be part of the problem. Although medical issues are most often the problem, cats can be troubled by changes in their world. When pet parents take a vacation and pack Kitty off to another home or bring in a house-sitter, Kitty can react by hair-pulling behavior.
This condition, known as psychogenic alopecia manifests itself in much the same way as medical problems except that the underlying skin appears healthy and normal. Cats with psychogenic alopecia will continue to pull out their hair whenever they are stressed. We don’t know how to cure this problem. Fortunately, this condition is not accompanied by medical complications unless kitty over-grooms to the point that skin trauma occurs leading to redness, rashes, or scabs on the skin. Kitty’s coat may be patchy, but she’ll be healthy.
Final Thoughts: Why Do Cats Pull Their Hair Out?
When our cats behave in strange ways, we often forget to look for the most obvious reasons. We might even dismiss an otherwise medically telling set of symptoms as pure neurosis in our enigmatic companions. We need to remember that when cats pull their hair out chances are there is most likely a medical problem present.
Why do cats pulls their hair out? This signals something amiss that’s making your fur baby uncomfortable. If the problem continues, see your vet. Kitty deserves relief from her discomfort sooner rather than later.