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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9110
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My male cat age 5 is starting to lose hair in patches on lower

Customer Question

My male cat age 5 is starting to lose hair in patches on lower portion of body. What is causing. He seems to be happy ang eats well.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Deb.
I recently came online and see that your question about Ash hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response, but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.
There actually could be several different explanations for the hair loss Ash is experiencing which I'll list below in no particular order. Some may be more or less likely depending on how itchy he appears.
1. Fleas. You may or may not see fleas since they can hop off and on a cat's body and they can be ingested from all the grooming. Cats can become allergic to the flea saliva and literally one or two fleas can drive them crazy. The areas of their bodies that they tend to lick a lot include the spine in front of the tail and the stomach; sometimes the backs of the legs, too.
So, I would want to rule this problem out just to be safe by use if these are the locations he's losing hair.
2. Psychogenic. This is exactly what it sounds like. These cats overgroom their bodies because of stress or change in their environments and probably serves as a way of soothing themselves. However, some studies have shown that many cats previously thought to suffer from this condition actually have pollen allergies (see below).
These cats overgroom themselves and leave "peach-fuzz" type fur on their bodies usually on their stomachs, backs of their legs, possibly their front legs; they are not actually bald or have sores like would be seen secondary to allergies.
3. Pollen allergies to such things as dust mites, mold, grasses, trees, etc. These cats can lick just about anywhere on their bodies with this problem. They may or may not respond to antihistamines (see below) but they almost always respond to steroids which can help with the diagnosis
4. Food allergies. While not likely if he's not losing hair on his face, neck or head, I'll include it to be complete.
This condition is usually secondary to food that a cat has been eating for a while--it's not to new food. Changing to a hypoallergenic diet may be helpful such as grain-free, or Z/D (available from your vet) or Natural Ba***** *****mited Ingredients, Nature's Variety Instincts line, Evo Duck or Venison, Nature's Variety Frozen Raw Medallions (I recommend that they be zapped in the microwave for 10-15 seconds on each side).
5. Pain or discomfort can cause excessive licking in some cats but usually they're older than 5. I’ve also seen it with problems of the spine or arthritis; this is a more likely if the over-grooming is in one specific area such as the back or tail.
6. Cheyletiella is an itchy, scaling skin disease of cats caused by infestation with Cheyletiella mites. Although the mites inhabit the entire body, the scaling and itching often seem worse over the back.
These mites tend to live on the host animal but all bedding should be washed to help eliminate them from the environment.
The treatment is relatively easy: Several topical products used for fleas are also effective against this mite. Revolution (Selamectin) and Frontline (Fipronil) monthly for two or three treatments is usually enough to take care of the problem. I'd treat all dogs and cats in the household at the same time if this particular problem is suspected.
Ivermectin can also be used but would have to be injected by your vet and would have to be given two months apart.
7. Ringworm can cause hair loss in a roughly circular pattern which often affects the face/head but can be seen on other areas of the body, too. These cats aren't typically itchy; the hair just falls out.
Diagnostic testing would have to be done by your vet to determine if this is the problem.
Antihistamines can help in some cases where allergies are the underlying cause of overgrooming and hair loss.
Benadryl at a dose of 1/2 of a 25 mg tablet given twice daily or
Chlorpheniramine at a dose of 2-4 mg twice a day or
Claritin (Loratadine) at a dose of 2.5-5 mg or
Zyrtec (cetirizine) 5 mg once or twice a day
It is important to ensure that the formulations used contain ONLY the antihistamine and are not combination products (e.g. Claritin-D contains pseudoephedrine, which could cause very significant adverse effects in a cat).
Sedation is a common side effect with these kinds of drugs.
I hope this helps although, again, my apologies for the delayed reply. Deb
You might try a Feliway diffuser or spray; these are natural pheromones which can help instill a sense of calm.
There is also an oral product called Composure Chews which is formulated to do the same thing...to calm the cat.
I've had some owners who have had great success with these types of products and others who feel they are not terribly effective....so you won't know until you try them whether or not they will work. But I would definitely consider them; they are available on the internet and some pet