Shedding is a cat’s natural process of losing dead hair. Indoor cats can shed all year-round. Regularly grooming your cat and vacuuming hair from your house should minimize the inconvenience of shedding. However, if you see bald patches in your cat’s fur or notice a significant loss of hair, the underlying cause may be a health-related problem and should be investigated by a veterinarian.
A variety of medical, dietary, and stress-related issues can cause your cat to lose more hair than is normal. If you notice he’s losing an excessive amount of hair or has bald patches, please consult your veterinarian immediately. Your cat may be suffering from one of the following health issues:
- Bacterial infection
- Hormonal imbalance such as hyperthyroidism
- Poor diet
- Certain medications
- Pregnancy or lactation
If your cat obsessively licks, bites or scratches, OR if he’s losing patches of hair or stops to scratch or bite the same few spots persistently, then it’s important you take him in for a veterinary exam. There may be a medical, dietary or stress-related issue that needs immediate attention.
If your cat sheds a lot and your veterinarian has determined that there is no underlying medical cause, there are a few things you can do to minimize his hair loss:
- Feed him a healthy, balanced diet.
- Groom him regularly.
- Examine your cat’s skin and coat during your grooming sessions. Checking for hair loss, redness, bumps, cuts, fleas, ticks or other parasites will be a fast way to determine whether you need to go the vet to solve your pet’s shedding.
If your cat’s shedding is normal, the worst you may end up with is a hairy wardrobe and home—your cat, however, may suffer from hairballs if she isn’t groomed regularly. If her shedding is due to an underlying medical cause, including allergies, parasites, infections, or disease, her health may continue to worsen if you don’t seek veterinary care. Additionally, cats who are not groomed appropriately can become matted—this is especially true for long-haired cats. Matted hair can be painful and lead to underlying skin problems.
Your cat’s ears may be able to pick up the sound of a bag of treats being opened across the house, but they could still use a little help staying clean. Monitoring your kitty’s ears once per week for wax, debris and infection will help those sensitive sonar detectors stay perky and alert to your every move.
Outer Ear Check
A healthy feline ear flap, or pinna, has a layer of hair on its outer surface with no bald spots, and its inner surface is clean and light pink. If you see any discharge, redness or swelling, your cat’s ears should be checked by a veterinarian.
Inner Ear Exam
Bring kitty into a quiet room where there are no other pets. Gently fold back each ear and look down into the canal. Healthy inner ears will be pale pink in color, carry no debris or odor and will have minimal if no earwax. If you find that your cat’s ears are caked with wax or you detect an odor, please bring her in for a veterinary exam.
Ear Cleaning 101
- Place a little bit of liquid ear cleaner (ask your vet for a recommendation) onto a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze.
- Fold kitty’s ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you can see on the underside of her ear.
- Lift away the dirt and wax rather than rubbing it into the ear. And do not attempt to clean the canal—probing inside of your cat’s ear can cause trauma or infection.
Signs of Ear Problems
Watch for the following signs that may indicate your cat’s ears should be checked by a veterinarian.
- Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
- Sensitivity to touch
- Head tilting or shaking
- Loss of balance and disorientation
- Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
- Unpleasant odor
- Black or yellowish discharge
- Accumulation of dark brown wax
- Hearing loss
Know Your Ear Disorders
- Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious among pets. Telltale signs include excessive itching of the ears and debris that resembles coffee grounds.
- Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast or foreign debris caught in the ear canal. Treatment should be sought immediately as ear infections can cause considerable discomfort and may indicate allergies, hormonal abnormalities or hereditary disease.
- Blood blisters (hematoma) are the result of blood accumulation in the ear flap. They’re often caused by infection, ear mites, fleas or trapped debris that causes your cat to scratch her ears or shake her head excessively.