Kittens have the same amount of hair all over their bodies. But as they age, some parts, including the face, grow fewer hairs. You can notice this in cats at around 14 to 20 months old. This trend can continue until the feline reaches the age of three.
However, there are instances wherein the hair loss is immediately noticeable and you are probably concerned that there is something wrong with your beloved pet.
Why is your cat losing hair around his eyes?
Cat hair loss around the eyes can be attributed to a number of causes, some of which are natural (aging, genetics) while others are indicative of a larger problem at hand (fleas, mange, stress). Here is a more in-depth look at these reasons:
As mentioned earlier, hair loss around the face and the eyes is a natural phenomenon in cats. This phenomenon is called facial alopecia or preauricular alopecia because the hair loss typically occurs just up to the part of the face before the ears.
Facial alopecia occurs in cats of both genders. However, it is more noticeable in shorthair cat breeds.
As long as you do not notice other symptoms like scratches and lesions, you do not have to worry much about your pet. He will be just fine.
Breeds like the Devon Rex, Birman, Siamese, and Burmese carry genes that make them susceptible to losing hair around their eyes and ears.
Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do if this is the underlying cause of your pet’s hair loss. Furthermore, this type of hair loss has no known treatment.
Although the problem can be an eyesore, you should not worry much especially if your cat is not showing other symptoms like itchiness.
Hair loss, including around your pet’s eyes, can be caused by a few types of pests that infest felines. By observing the accompanying symptoms or by enlisting the aid of your veterinarian, you can identify which pest has infected your pet.
Ear mites are prevalent in felines that spend a part of their day outdoors. However, indoor cats can also catch these pests by using the belongings of other cats that are already infected with these pests.
To put it succinctly, ear mites can spread around fast.
Apart from the balding spots around your cat’s eyes, watch out for other symptoms. These include
- Bad odor coming from the ears
- Constant head rubbing
- Shaking of ears
To confirm if your cat is indeed infected with ear mites, your vet will use an otoscope. Treating an ear mite infestation begins with the thorough cleaning of the cat’s ears. Your vet may also prescribe a medicine for the ear canal. Treatment usually lasts anywhere between seven and 10 days.
Mange is another condition that is caused by mites. And like ear mites, mange can be easily transmitted from one cat to another.
An infected cat will usually have hair loss around its face, ears, and neck. You will also see a yellow-gray crust on the bald spots.
To confirm if a cat has mange, a veterinarian will perform a skin scrape test, viewing the sample taken under a microscope.
If your pet is infected, his fur will need to be shaved and you will need to apply lime sulfur dip on the infected area just until the mites have been killed. This will usually take between six and eight weeks.
A flea’s saliva can be irritating to a cat’s skin.
To relieve that irritation, your cat can scratch himself or rub himself against surfaces like walls and furniture. These can lead to hair loss, especially around his face and ears.
One of the easiest ways to check if your cat is indeed infested by fleas is to comb his hair. Apart from the actual fleas, you might notice a dirt-like substance between the hair strands. This is called flea dirt which is a combination of your cat’s blood and the flea’s fecal matter.
You can manually remove the fleas or use medication like Frontline.
Ringworm is a type of fungal infection that typically affects cats that are under stress due to different reasons like moving between homes or the loss of a beloved member of the household.
The fungus that causes this condition likes to burrow near the hair follicles where it can eat dead skin cells.
And because the fungus dwells on the hair follicles, the structure of the affected follicles weaken, making them easy to break. In turn, when the hair follicles break off, bald spots are created. Apart from this, you may also notice crusty patches in different parts of your pet’s body.
Typically, your cat’s immune system will be enough to allow your pet to recover from this condition. And when the ringworm is gone, your cat’s hair will grow back.
However, it is critical to identify your cat’s source of stress so that you can eliminate it or at least, lessen its impact on your pet. In severe cases, veterinarians may recommend the use of either an oral pill or a topical cream. Some may even recommend bathing a cat with an antifungal shampoo made especially for felines.
Like humans, cats can also succumb to allergies from food and environmental factors.
Food allergies typically manifest themselves in the form of bald spots, sores, and itching. Left unchecked, a food allergy can escalate into something worse, like an ear infection.
Hair loss arises because the affected cat tries to relieve an itch by vigorously scratching himself. Additionally, the cat may bite himself, pulling out some hairs during the process.
To determine which particular food or ingredient causes an allergy in your cat, you must subject him to an elimination diet. Initially, your pet’s diet will be restricted. Gradually, you will need to reintroduce the foods that you usually give him until you see his allergies flare-up after eating a particular food.
In cats, the usual culprits for allergies are dairy and fish.
Allergies caused by environmental factors like pollen, mold, or dust is called feline atopy.
The symptoms of feline atopy are the same as food allergies, making it hard to distinguish between the two sometimes.
If your vet confirms that your cat has feline atopy, the long term solution is to eliminate the underlying cause of the allergy or at least minimize your cat’s interaction with it.
In some instances, a vet may also prescribe antihistamines to relieve the itchiness.
If your cat has been spending too much time under the sun, he can become sunburned. And one of the areas that may be affected is his eyes.
The affected area can flake, which in turn, can cause hair loss.
If your cat is sunburned, the first thing that you need to do is to limit his exposure to the sun. To facilitate healing and prevent infections, you can apply an antibiotic cream to the affected areas.
7. Inflammation of oil glands
Sebaceous adenitis is a condition wherein the oil glands of a cat become too inflamed that they burst.
In turn, this can lead to hair loss, especially around a cat’s face and ears.
Unfortunately, the condition cannot be cured. However, the symptoms can be remedied through the use of medication.
Cats can succumb to stress due to a variety of reasons, from the presence of a new pet to changes in his environment.
And one of the ways a cat tries to soothe himself during an anxious period is to overgroom himself. Lacking any real way to cope with a stressful situation, a cat’s first instinct is to groom himself.
However, overgrooming can lead to other problems. One of these is bald spots in areas that he frequently grooms.
The first, and probably the most important thing that you need to do is to identify the possible cause of your cat’s stress. More often than not, removing that source of stress can bring your cat back to normal.
It also helps to give your pet a healthy way to relieve his stress. And one of the simplest ways to do that is to play with your feline. Playing engages your cat’s mind and body and effectively reduces his stress. Alternatively, you can provide him new toys to veer his mind away.
What is critical is to act fast so that your pet will not develop overgrooming into a habit.
Cat hair loss is a serious problem
Sudden hair loss, including the hair around the eyes, is a reason for concern. Once you notice the bald spots on your cat’s body, schedule a visit to the veterinarian. Sometimes, bald spots are a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be resolved quickly.
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