It can be disconcerting to see your cat shed excessively. But that is natural. What may even be more alarming is to see your cat losing hair on ears. When a cat loses more hair on a single body part, it may mean that there is a larger underlying problem that you need to determine.
Why your cat is losing hair from his ears
When a cat loses hair on specific body parts like the ears it is usually a result of hereditary hair loss, aging, chronic stress, sunburn, allergies or a medical condition. Identifying this underlying cause is critical to prevent further hair loss and to address the root cause to prevent further problems. Here is a brief look at some of the potential causes of your pet’s hair loss in and around his ears.
Hereditary hair loss
Breeds like the Devon Rex, Birman, Siamese, and Burmese have been identified as the cats that are most susceptible to succumb to hereditary hair loss.
Although hair loss can affect the whole body, this type of hair loss usually occurs in patterns. In some cats, hair loss affects certain colors.
Furthermore, the gene associated with hair loss can also cause issues like abnormalities in the eyes, teeth, claws, and skeleton.
Cats that have this gene may also suffer from infections caused by the hair follicles and intrusion of foreign objects into follicles.
Because this type of hair loss is hereditary, there is not much that you or your vet can do to facilitate the regrowth of lost hair.
Just like in humans, aging in cats can manifest itself in thinning hair.
Typically, kittens have the same hair density all over their young bodies. But as they grow old, the hair in some of their body parts, including the ears and face begin to have less hair.
A senior cat can even have bald patches due to hair loss. Furthermore, because older cats tend to self-groom infrequently, you will notice that their coats are drier and look duller.
Like genetics, you do not have much to worry about this cause for hair loss. If your pet is otherwise healthy, hair loss in his ears and other body parts should be the least of your concerns.
Stress is not always bad. Sometimes, it can be beneficial for your pet because some of these situations can stimulate your cat’s mind.
However, chronic stress is an entirely different thing. Chronic stress can lead to a host of problems, including anti-social behavior, sleeping issues, lethargy, and hair loss.
When a feline is under chronic stress, one of the ways he copes to a specific situation is to overgroom. Overgrooming, in turn, can lead to hair loss.
To say that cats do not do well in times of change is an understatement. Cats can be stressed even when you rearrange a room that they frequent.
Cats also have a hard time when a member of the household is added or lost. Because cats have highly-developed senses, they do not fare well when these are overstimulated.
Furthermore, the changes in the season can also adversely affect your cat.
The best way to combat chronic stress in cats is to identify the source of the problem and remove it. You can also increase your playtime with your cat to stimulate his mind and body.
Like in humans, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to sunburn in dogs and cats.
Although dogs and cats have furs that offer some degree of protection against the sun, breeds with light colors and short hair are at a higher risk of getting sunburned.
In particular, the eyes, ears, and nose of cats are their most vulnerable body parts. When these body parts are sunburned, these can lose some hair. And if the animal is constantly exposed to the sun, sunburn can eventually lead to skin cancer.
Apart from hair loss, other symptoms of sunburn include discomfort, head shaking, and scales. As the sunburn gets worse, you will notice the appearance of ulcers and crusts on the affected body parts.
At the first sign of sunburn, you should bring your cat to the vet’s office. Sunburn requires immediate treatment.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the sunburn. In most cases of sunburn, treatment will include cleaning the affected area and the application of fluids and antibiotics.
Feline sebaceous adenitis
Feline sebaceous adenitis is a type of skin disease that affects a cat’s sebaceous glands. This condition causes the cat’s skin to become inflamed, and eventually, die.
Although the associated symptoms may look unsightly, overall, the disease does not affect an animal’s health and wellbeing.
To date, scientists have yet to determine the true cause of the disease. However, experts believe that sebaceous adenitis is hereditary. Furthermore, leading animal health experts say that one possible cause of this disease is that the animal’s immune system may be attacking the sebaceous glands.
Apart from hair loss, other symptoms include lesions, scales, matted hair, itching, infections, and bad odor coming from the animal’s skin.
Although there are no available treatments for the disease, your vet may recommend a few options to manage the symptoms. These include antibiotics, baths and soaks, and medications for the infections.
A food allergy occurs when a cat’s immune system reacts to a specific protein found in your pet’s food. Among the most common causes of food allergies in felines are dairy, fish, beef, and chicken.
An allergic cat usually deals with skin inflammation and itching, especially in the ears, face, stomach, groin, and limbs. To help cope with the itchiness, the cat may overgroom and rub himself against surfaces.
Apart from skin problems, food allergies can also cause stomach issues.
To confirm if your cat has a food allergy, your pet must undergo a food trial. Here, he is only allowed to eat a specialized meal that does not contain any of the protein sources that your cat usually eats.
After six to eight weeks, you will need to perform a food challenge on your cat. This step gradually reintroduces your pet’s usual food.
A cat with a food allergy will usually stop exhibiting allergy symptoms while on food trial and then show these symptoms after undergoing a food challenge after a week.
Food allergies cannot be treated. The next best thing that you can do is avoid giving foods that cause allergies.
Inhalant allergy, also known as atopy, is a condition where a cat’s skin reacts adversely in response to an allergen.
The same allergens that affect humans can also trigger an allergic response in cats. These include dust mites, pollen, grass, and molds. However, cats react to these allergens in the form of skin inflammation.
Among the symptoms of atopy are itching, abrasions, bald patches, and discoloration due to excessive licking.
No test can confirm if your cat is suffering from inhalant allergy. Because the symptoms are the same as food allergies and pest infestation, your vet needs to conduct tests to eliminate these as possible causes of your pet’s woes.
Like food allergies, atopy cannot be treated. The best thing that your vet can do is to help your cat manage the symptoms. Among the possible options that the vet can recommend are immunosuppressive medications, antihistamines, and allergy shots.
In response to a pest infestation, your cat can vigorously scratch and overgroom himself. In turn, these can lead to hair loss, including around the ears.
Among the leading pests that cause hair loss in cats are fleas, ear mites, and mange.
At the first sign of any of these pests, it is vital to treat your pet, especially if you have other cats in your home. These three are highly contagious.
Fleas and ear mites can be easily identified while mange usually requires a skin test.
Ringworms are caused by fungi known as dermatophytes. They typically live in the soil but can be brought inside a home.
Sometimes, the fungi can live on a cat’s fur without causing serious problems. A healthy cat can remove the parasites through self-grooming. In some cases, the fungi die out due to competition from other organisms present on the cat’s body.
However, when your cat is stressed or has a weak immune system, the fungi can flourish and cause inflammation.
The fungi usually dwell close to the skin where these can feed on the keratin found in hair. In the right environment, the fungi population can grow exponentially.
Over time, your cat can recover from ringworms without treatment. However, this can take up to a year, and you are left with a pet with bald patches, wounds, and infections. Other symptoms include dandruff, scaling, crusting, hair and skin discoloration, and inflammation.
Worse, ringworms can be passed by a cat to his humans.
This is why it is critical to get your pet treated. Treatment usually involves the use of antifungal creams and full-body rinses.
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