Is Your Cat Experiencing Bald Spots or Losing Hair?
If your cat is losing her hair on a part of her body, there are two potential causes for her hair loss – dermatosis or alopecia. Dermatosis is a disease condition of the skin which results in the affected area losing its hair, while alopecia is a skin disorder in which the cat’s fur starts falling out. Both of these conditions can be caused by hormone imbalances. Understanding which condition your cat is suffering from will help you get her the appropriate care and treatment she needs in order to recover.
Alopecia in Cats
Alopecia is a two-stage skin condition. During the early stage of the condition, hair is usually lost around the back of the neck, the thighs, the perineum (between the vulva or scrotum and the anus), and the stomach. As the condition progresses, hair loss will occur on the cat’s rump and flank. It is caused by too much or too little estrogen in female cats and too much or too little androgen and/or testosterone in males. It can also be caused by an adrenal reproductive hormone imbalance in both males and females.
Signs and Symptoms of Hair Loss and Skin Disorders in Cats
If you think your cat might be suffering from a baldness-causing hormone-related skin disorder, you may start to notice several tell-tale signs in addition to the hair loss. Here is a checklist that you can use to monitor your cat so your veterinarian will have the most comprehensive information at their disposal when treating her.
Simply check the box beside the symptom if you have observed it in your cat:
- Dry, brittle fur
- Blackheads on the skin
- Darkening of the skin
- Abnormal reproduction glands and/or nipples
- Urinating outside of the litter box
Getting Your Cat to the Vet: What to Expect
Once you’ve completed the above checklist, print it out and take it to your veterinarian so you can discuss your cat’s condition with the vet. Provide your veterinarian with a complete picture of your cat’s health history, including when the symptoms started.
The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your cat, a complete blood count and chemical blood profile, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel. A skin biopsy will be taken to rule out any potential skin diseases and to look for signs of abnormal sex hormone receptors in the skin.
Other tests may include an x-ray, ultrasound, a laparoscopy, an adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) stimulation test, a Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) response test, and an adrenal reproductive hormone test.
Treating Hormone-Related Skin Disorders in Cats
Treatment for hormone-related skin disorders in cats typically includes spaying or neutering if it hasn’t yet been performed. In many cases, this alone will resolve the cat’s hormone imbalance and the resulting hair loss. If your cat is already spayed or neutered, then hormone therapy may be needed or the veterinarian may prescribe a topical medication or a medicated shampoo if the cause is a bacterial skin infection.
If your cat is diagnosed with alopecia or dermatosis as a result of a hormone imbalance and your veterinarian prescribes her medications to help treat it, you can receive a free quote for your pet’s medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on all of your pet medications.
As always, be sure to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your cat is currently taking so your vet can make the best treatment decision for your pet’s unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.
Author: Giano Panzarella