Why Does My Cat Pull her/his Hair Out?

If you have noticed that your cat is pulling its hair out, you shouldn’t simply let them do it.

While self-grooming is normal for these animals, it can quickly get out of hand. You don’t want to ignore the issue, as it will only continue to get worse.

Cats and Grooming

Cats groom/clean themselves on a regular basis with their tongue and paws. Some of these animals do it while nobody else is around. If your cat is pulling out hair that isn’t loose, it is probably a sign of something serious. This can lead to bald spots on your cat, and it often leads to hairballs. The fact is that it is not a healthy behavior for these animals and must be addressed.

Reasons that Cats Pull Out Their Own Hair

There are a multitude of possible explanations as to why your cat could be pulling out its own hair. It is important for you to consider some of these things when you are trying to figure out the root cause of this behavior.

1. Parasites

One possible explanation for your cat pulling out its hair is that it has parasites.

Some of the most common parasites cats get include:

  • Fleas: If your cat has fleas, it might develop a problem with over grooming. The constant itching and irritation can lead your pet to pick out its fur to the point of developing bald spots. 
  • Mites: Scabies and ear mites are just two parasites that can affect cats and cause this harmful behavior. They cannot be seen by the naked eye, so you need to take your cat to the vet to get them diagnosed.
  • Lice: There is a certain variety of lice that affect only cats. This is fairly common among felines that are outside a lot of the time.
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cat loosing hair

2. Allergic Reaction

There is also a chance that your cat has experienced an allergic reaction to a certain food you have given it. While many people don’t think of cats as having allergies, some of them do. This can cause them to become very itchy, which may lead to pulling out hair that isn’t loose.

A cat can have an allergic reaction if it comes into contact with an irritant as well. If your cat gets the wrong thing on its skin, it could quickly become very itchy.

3. Fungal Infection

A fungal infection is another possible explanation for a cat pulling out its hair. Ringworm in particular can cause severe itching and irritation in cats. There is no visible rash like with humans, so a veterinarian has to diagnose it.

4. Bacterial Infection

A bacterial infection can cause quite a bit of itching as well. If your cat recently sustained a wound, it could have become infected. This will require immediate treatment so the infection does not continue to worsen.

5. They are in Pain

If part of your cat’s body is causing them pain, they might pick at with their teeth or claws. This can cause quite a bit of hair loss within a short period of time. If your cat also hisses at you when you touch it, this could be the reason. 

This is particularly common among cats that have problems with arthritis. While it is something that tends to affect older cats, it can become an issue at any age. There are medications that you can give your cat to ease their pain.

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6. Stress

It is possible that your cat is pulling out her hair as a reaction to stress. There are lots of reasons that a cat can become stressed, such as a change in their routine. Maybe it is a new person in the house, or something else that has suddenly changed.

cat hairball

Tips for Stopping Your Cat from Pulling its Hair Out

You will need to keep these tips in mind when trying to get your cat to stop pulling its hair out.

  • Distract them: You should try distracting your cat with a fun toy and/or some catnip when they begin pulling their hair out. It could keep them from doing this, at least for a little while.
  • Don’t punish them: It is not a good idea to punish your cat for this behavior. This is not a problem that you can solve by disciplining them in any way.
  • Take your cat to the vet: If this behavior keeps up for more than a few days, you should see your veterinarian. They will most likely be able to diagnose the problem and recommend an effective solution.
  • Make your cat comfortable: You will first want to rule out the possibility that your cat is pulling out its hair due to stress. This means doing everything in your powerful to create a relaxing environment for them at home.
  • Spend more time with them: Whatever the cause of this behavior is, you should make a point of spending more time with your cat. This will comfort them and hopefully help a little bit. Just sitting and petting them can have a very soothing effect.
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Conclusion

  • If your cat has started picking out its own hair obsessively, you will need to find the root cause of this behavior.
  • Some cats do this because they have parasites. Lice, mites and fleas are the three most common parasites that these animals get.
  • Fungal and bacterial infections can cause your cat to itch a lot and even pull out its hair in an effort to get relief.
  • Your cat may be pulling out its hair because it is in pain.
  • Stress is a common explanation for this behavior. It can occur as the result of a sudden change in a cat’s routine.
  • If you notice your cat pulling out its hair, you should try to distract them with one of their favorite toys.
  • Try spending more time with your cat on a daily basis to see if it makes a positive difference at all.
  • Never punish your cat for pulling out its own hair.
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