For felines, grooming is an essential activity that takes up a lot of their awake time during the day. On average, a healthy domestic cat will spend up to 4 hours a day to groom themselves. However, sometimes grooming can get a bit too extreme. Your cat might start pulling their hair out, and you’re afraid that they might be hurting themselves.
Most of the time, you won’t be right next to your cat to fully see them groom. But you’ll definitely notice small clumps of fur scattered around the house. Worse, the cat ripping out fur can create bald spots on their body. Many people theorize this as a behavior problem. It seems very similar to a disorder in humans, where people would pull their hair off their head when they’re stressed. But others think the cat might be having skin disease and they’re just itchy.
To a cat, grooming is a mechanism more meaningful than just to clean their body. There are many reasons why cats spend so much time in a day just to lick their hair:
- With a tongue equipped with brush-like bristles, the cat mainly grooms to keep their fur coat silky and prevent matted hair.
- In addition, the oil produced by their sebum will be evenly coated throughout their fur, so as to mark the cat’s distinctive scent.
- Sometimes parasites or foreign objects might be stuck in the hair, so grooming will remove these unwanted things.
- Their saliva also acts as a body temperature regulator, as it helps the cat stay cool under summer heat.
- By laying under the sun and then licking their fur, a cat can acquire vitamin D.
- Cats might groom as a way to calm themselves down after they encounter an intense/embarrassing situation.
With all these possible reasons why a cat grooms, it’s obvious that there must be something wrong during this activity. Therefore, you should pay attention to your cat when they show unusual behavior like pulling their hair out.
Why Is My Cat Pulling His Hair Out?
The first thing you should do when you notice that your cat is pulling hair out is to take them to the veterinarian. They will give you a proper diagnosis of the problem. However, if you can’t meet with the vet right away, these are the potential reasons:
Feline allergiesSimilar to the human body, when an allergy starts, your cat might feel their skin starting to itch. They can rub on your furniture to relieve the itchiness. But if the irritation gets too uncomfortable and lasts too long, it might result in the cat grooming excessively or violently pulling fur out. Allergy can cause itching all over the cat’s body. Cats might be pulling fur out on the back, belly or even tip of the tail.
Parasites and infectionsHaving fleas or parasites on their skin can also cause a cat to be irritated. They will try to remove the foreign creatures by ripping their hair out, but this will only make things worse. Another reason why cats might lose their hair is because of fungal infection. Ringworm is a common disease cats can have. It creates patches of skin without hair on the cat’s body, and can be transmitted to other animals including you.
Matted hairThis is a result of hair coming off too much when cats groom themselves. The reason for cats losing their hair excessively can vary, from hormonal issues to being fed poorly. These all result in their hair getting stuck together. The cat will pull the chunk of hair off in order to keep their coat smooth and clean.
Stress and anxietyWhen a cat is stressed, he will start calming himself down by grooming. However, as the anxiety level rises, the intensity of grooming also increases. If it continues, cats will start ripping out their fur.
How To Stop Your Cat From Pulling Hair Out
The best way to solve your cat hair pulling problem is to pinpoint the real causes, and tackle them accordingly. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from allergy, try to figure out any possible allergen. Did you recently bring a new plant into the house? Did you change the cat’s diet or bed? Are they infested with fleas?
Take the cat to the vet to get medical treatment as soon as possible, and they’ll give you advice on how to reduce the itching. Buy allergic medicine, flea sprays or fungal medication following the doctor’s instruction.
You should also pay attention to what you feed your cat as well, since a poor diet can cause hair loss as well. Try to create more balanced meals with sufficient nutrition to maintain the cat’s health.
Finally, if you think that your cat is pulling hair out because of stress, try to find the reason behind it. Moving to a new home, separation anxiety or a new family member can all be a possible cause. Try to provide your cat with a safe environment in order to reduce this unwanted behavior.
Whenever you find your cat behaving in an unusual way, it’s always the best choice to visit and get advice from a veterinarian.