Alopecia areata: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Responsible for a significant loss of hair, alopecia areata can have different causes. It must in any case be taken seriously because a cat who suffers from alopecia areata must be treated. Let’s take stock of this condition, its causes, its main symptoms, possible treatments and see if there are solutions to prevent alopecia areata in cats.

Cat alopecia areata: possible causes

A cat can have alopecia areata for a variety of reasons. Indeed it can be due to a parasite, to an allergy, to a hormonal dysfunction but also to a behavioral disorder.

Parasitic cause

The mites, which take up residence in the cat’s coat, eventually lead to a skin disease called scabies. The cat scratches itself more and more frequently and in a virulent way, which causes infections, oozes, scabs. The skin being extremely irritated, the hair falls out. This parasitic disease can manifest itself in very localized plaques on the head of the animal in the event of ear mange, but it can also be more extensive and affect the whole body of the cat.

Of mushrooms are sometimes at the origin of alopecia areata since they settle in the skin and feed on the protein substance essential for integuments, namely keratin. The epidermis is then damaged by patches, which can be more or less extensive. The disease caused by fungi is ringworm.

Scabies and ringworm are extremely contagious.

Allergic cause

Alopecia areata can be allergic in origin. The allergen can be a food, a parasite (mite), a particular pollen or several pollens, the saliva of fleas, a material, a plant substance… The allergy causes severe itching. By scratching, the cat irritates its skin and its hair falls out.

Hormonal cause

It is when a hormonal imbalance occurs that the cat can present with alopecia areata because the health of its coat is partly linked to hormones. If there is a problem, the fur is less beautiful, it becomes dull then the hairs fall abnormally, on the head, at the level of the neck or on the sides. It should be noted that in this case, the hair loss is symmetrical, which allows to give a good indication to the veterinarian.

Behavioral cause

The slightest problem in cats can lead to alopecia areata. This is for example the case when the animal is very stress or anguish following a radical change of environment for example (moving). This is just as common in cats who are prone to fear. All these feelings trigger compulsive licking and / or untimely scratchings, mainly on the stomach, sides, legs. Over time, this behavioral disorder causes irritation to the epidermis and then the hair falls in excess.

Alopecia areata: symptoms in cats

Alopecia areata may be suspected when the animal exhibits one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Appearance of Red plaques in different places of the body, head, legs …,
  • The itching are more and more important and the cat scratches and / or licks very regularly with insistence,
  • The flaking due to scratching leads to dandruff visible in the coat,
  • The coat becomes dull and may change texture,
  • The hair is falling, we can even see totally bare areas which form like “holes” in the fur. The hair loss can be more or less extensive, symmetrical or not.

Attention from do not confuse alopecia areata with seasonal molting which is normal hair loss. This process occurs twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. But the hairs that fall out are then replaced by new ones. This concerns all cats without exception, whether they are short-haired or long-haired. It is of course more visible in the latter since the dead hairs, more voluminous, litter the carpet or accumulate on the tiles.

Cat alopecia areata: diagnosis and treatment

It is essential to first identify theorigin of alopecia areata to prescribe the appropriate treatment. The veterinarian must treat the problem but also reduce the symptoms caused by alopecia areata.

The treatment is therefore prescribed on a case-by-case basis. It may be a pest control as an ointment or injection, a treatment intended to calm a stressed cat if the alopecia areata is due to a behavior problem. Faced with alopecia areata of allergic origin, the veterinarian must start by identify the allergenic agent involved thanks to tests because the cat should no longer be in contact with the allergen thereafter.

At the same time, the practitioner prescribes lotions, antiparasitic shampoos but also treating or fall protection, and different products capable of relieve irritation. Everything should be back to normal fairly quickly. After some time, the hair grows back.

Can we prevent alopecia areata in cats?

Although alopecia areata cannot be 100% avoided, it is possible to reduce the risks considerably by taking care of your cat’s fur with great regularity. For this, it is necessary brush frequently, and more so during seasonal moulting periods, making sure to clean the brush and disinfect it after each use. Careful brushing helps check the undercoat as well as the cat’s skin and to detect any parasites. This is also essential to prevent the cat from swallowing too much dead hair while licking itself. Do not hesitate to shampoo your cat from time to time with quality care products.

The cat’s coat needs vitamins A and E but also ofessential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) to stay beautiful and healthy. The animal finds them in a balanced diet but it may be necessary to give it from time to time a supplement, always on the advice of the veterinarian. Obviously, if the cat has an allergy, it is imperative to eliminate the allergenic agent from its food or its environment in order to prevent alopecia areata.

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