Is your feline looking a bit bare around the eyes lately? Have you thought, “Why is my cat shedding so much?” You are not alone! Many cat owners, myself included, have had this same problem. But why is this such a widespread concern? Is hair loss something all cats go through? Or is it a sign that something is wrong?
Although some shedding is expected, a cat losing hair around its eyes may have an underlying skin condition. If this is the case, you must get your feline checked out by your vet so that they receive the treatment they need. In most cases, the problem will be completely cleared within a few weeks.
In this article, I will go over ten likely causes of your kitty’s hair loss. Hopefully, my advice on treating your cat and preventing further hair loss will help put your mind at ease.
Why is Your Cat Losing Hair Around its Eyes?
Although hair loss around your kitty’s eyes can be concerning, this baldness is a part of your cat’s aging process. This is because your cat’s hair will become more thinly spread out as your feline grows in size. However, when your cat’s hair loss occurs suddenly and is overly noticeable, there may be cause for concern. In either case, one of the following conditions is likely the culprit.
1. Facial Alopecia
Facial alopecia, or preauricular alopecia, is one of the most common causes of hair loss in cats. Although it may seem worrisome, the thinning of fur around your kitty’s eyes is a normal part of the aging process.
When they’re first born, kittens have the same amount of hair over their entire body. However, by 20 months old, the hair around your kitty’s eyes will start to thin out. This process can continue up to three years of age and may be more noticeable if your feline has dark fur and is shorthaired.
As facial alopecia is not caused by a disease, these signs of hair loss are nothing to worry about as long as you don’t notice excessive scratching or lesions in the same area. If you do see these additional symptoms, it may be that your cat’s hair loss is caused by a skin condition.
2. Flea Infections
If you think your kitty’s hair loss is due to excessive scratching, a flea infestation may be the culprit. When fleas bite, they leave behind a trail of saliva, which typically causes severe irritation on your cat’s skin. To relieve themselves of this, your cat will scratch the affected area.
Although hair loss due to fleas can happen anywhere on the body, it is most commonly found around the face and ears, as these are the easiest places for a cat to scratch. Your kitty may rub their face against rough surfaces, such as a scratching post or carpet, making these areas vulnerable.
The easiest way to check for a flea infestation is by combing through your feline’s hair using a flea comb. Remove as many fleas as possible and put them into a bowl of diluted bleach to stop them from returning to your furry friend. You may also notice something resembling dirt on the comb. This flea dirt is made up of flea fecal matter and your cat’s blood, so it may appear red when squished.
After combing out as many fleas as possible, bathe your kitty as this will hopefully drown any fleas that managed to get left behind. There are also several medications you can buy to aid you in getting rid of the infestation.
3. Mites & Mange
Another pest that could be behind your cat’s hair loss is mites. Two types of infestations can cause severe itching in your cat: ear mites and mange. Both can lead to noticeable hair loss around your feline’s eyes.
Ear mites are more likely found in outdoor cats, but those living inside can also become infected. If your feline shakes their ears a lot, constantly rubs their head, and has a bad smell coming from their ears, then this is a likely cause of your kitty’s hair loss.
To assess whether your feline has ear mites or not, your vet will have to look into their ears using an otoscope. If they do have mites, your cat’s ears need to be cleaned, and medicine will be prescribed for use at home. If you follow these steps, the infestation should be gone within ten days.
The other type of mite infestation, mange, typically affects the ears, face, and neck. Alongside your cat’s hair loss, you may also notice a crust on the skin that appears yellowish-gray in color.
Your vet will have to look at a small skin sample under a microscope to diagnose mange and, if your kitty is infected, it will need to be shaved. You’ll also need to apply a lime sulfur dip to your feline once a week for 6-8 weeks until all the mites are gone.
4. Ringworm Infection
Next up, we have ringworm, a fungal infection that thrives in hair follicles where there are plenty of dead skin cells to eat. The location of the fungus causes your kitty’s hair follicles to break, creating bald patches on the head. It may also cause crusty patches on affected areas of your cat’s body.
Your vet will look at your cat’s head using a wood lamp to make a diagnosis. During this inspection, it may be possible to see red rings on your kitty’s skin.
Most of the time, your cat’s immune system will be good enough to fight off ringworm, and their skin will soon return to normal. However, in more severe cases, your vet will have to provide topical cream or oral medication, which should clear up the infection within four weeks.
The primary causes of ringworm are stress and poor hygiene around the home. Infections can be avoided in the future by limiting the amount of stress your kitty may feel so your furry friend has time to adjust, and by practicing good hygiene.
5. Food Allergies
Like us, cats can experience allergic reactions to certain foods they come in contact with. These allergies tend to cause sores, intense itching, and hair loss. This can lead to ear infections, further increasing the rate at which your kitty loses their fur.
Although your feline’s bald patches will primarily form around the eyes, food allergies can also cause hair loss in other areas of the body. For example, you may notice your cat losing hair on the back near its tail.
To figure out what your cat is allergic to, you may have to restrict their diet and slowly reintroduce different foods one at a time. A sudden reaction to a new food will identify the culprit, so you know to avoid that food in the future. In cats, the most common food allergies are caused by dairy and fish.
6. Environmental Allergies
Even if your cat isn’t allergic to their food, they may still be allergic to something else in their environment, such as mold or pollen. These kinds of allergies can cause a skin disease known as atopy.
The signs of atopy in cats are the same as those caused by food allergies, so it can be hard to distinguish between them. If it’s determined your kitty does have environmental allergies, the best treatment is to limit your feline’s contact with the offending allergen. Your vet may also prescribe an antihistamine to help with the itchiness your cat will be experiencing.
7. Chronic Stress
Cats are very sensitive animals, so many environmental changes can lead to extreme stress. These changes can range from sudden loud noises in and around your home to a new cat appearing in the area.
Like you and me, your kitty will become self-soothing when feeling stressed. Unfortunately, this often takes place in the form of excessive grooming, and it will eventually lead to a kind of hair loss known as psychogenic alopecia.
The best way to stop your cat from licking its fur off is to identify and remove whatever is stressing out your furry friend. Providing other ways for your kitty to relieve stress can also be very helpful. This can be done by providing a stimulating environment for your cat (such as using cat trees and toys) and playing with them regularly.
8. Genetic Predisposition
In some breeds of cats, such as Siamese, Burmese, and Devon Rex, hair loss around their eyes may be caused by their genes. However, this is nothing to be concerned about, as there is no harmful, underlying cause. Your kitty also won’t experience any irritation or itchiness around the bald site.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for genetic hair loss, either to stop the balding or to help the fur grow back. You’ll just have to get used to your kitty’s new look.
9. Solar Dermatitis
Solar dermatitis is another word for sunburn, something you’ve probably experienced yourself. Just like when we get burnt, your kitty’s skin will start to flake away as the burn tries to heal, and this is what causes the resultant hair loss. Due to the limited fur around the eyes, nose, and ears, these are the most likely places that bald patches will appear.
The easiest way of treating and preventing solar dermatitis is by limiting the amount of sun exposure your cat gets. Antibiotic creams can also be used on burned areas to help soothe and heal the affected skin.
10. Sebaceous Adenitis
Finally, we have sebaceous adenitis: the inflammation of your cat’s sebaceous (oil) glands. When these glands become inflamed, they will be destroyed, leading to your kitty’s hair loss.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, but certain medications can be prescribed to help remove the sores that will form around your cat’s hair follicles. Sebaceous adenitis is also extremely rare in cats, so it’s much more likely your feline’s balding is due to one of the above instead.
What to Do About Hair Loss in Cats?
So, now you know of some potential causes of your feline’s hair loss, what should you do about it? The answer to this depends on the cause.
Facial alopecia is considered normal as your kitten ages, but it may be more noticeable in your cat than others if they have short, dark hair. If your cat is of a particular breed, they may also be genetically predisposed to hair loss. In these cases, no treatment can stop your kitty’s hair loss. But the good news is that your cat is ultimately okay, just a little less furry than before.
In other cases, such as when the hair loss is sudden or marks appear on your kitty’s skin, it is essential to take your feline friend to the vet to diagnose the underlying cause. Most of the time, these skin conditions can then be treated.
One way of catching skin conditions is committing to a regular brushing routine. This is especially important in cats with undercoats or long hair. There are brushes for cats that hate to be brushed in the market, so you should be able to find one that suits your kitty perfectly. In addition, matted cat fur causes dry skin and irritation, so brushing can also prevent further hair loss due to overgrooming.
Some further preventative measures include:
- Periodic cleaning of your home
- Providing a nutritious diet
- Introduce changes in your home slowly
- Use a monthly flea prevention medication
- Invest in an air purifier
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
To summarize, it’s normal to notice your cat losing hair around its eyes. It’s a natural part of the aging process, which can also be amplified by a genetic predisposition in some breeds. A sudden loss of hair, however, is a different story. In these cases, it could be that your kitty has a parasitic infection, suffers from allergies or stress, or has been in the sun too much.
If you think your furry friend’s bald patches could be due to one of these reasons, it’s important to seek advice from your vet so you can get the treatment help you need. Taking preventative measures, such as buying a brush for long-haired cats and providing a nutritious diet, will also help reduce any further hair loss.