Why is my cat pulling out its fur?

Cats can pull out their hair for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are because of either parasites or skin conditions. Parasites that can cause this include fleas, ringworm, and the mites that cause feline mange. Mainly, you want to watch out for a parasite that's going to cause itching or irritation of the skin - the cat will try to remove it with its teeth, and it will often get clumps of fur instead. Many flea control products will kill both some kinds of mites and any fleas.

   

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Skin conditions are a little harder to diagnose - they can be the result of allergies or a number of other causes, but the problem is that the visual symptoms that a non-expert can see are all the same and there's really no way for you as a layperson to tell which one is which. Another problem is that the cat may be irritating the skin by biting at it, making it look like a skin condition.

Finally, sometimes a cat biting at its fur is a result of behavioral problems. These can include obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or stress, and a syndrome called feline hyperesthesia that sometimes causes cats to repeatedly bite themselves. Treatment for these can vary, but you can't really use punishment on the cat because the behavior is often caused by stress, and yelling at the cat or frequently punishing it can just add to this. Anti-stress medication can work, and you should also talk to your vet about whether placing the cat in a special collar to keep it from biting for awhile is a good idea.

Finally, make sure your cat doesn't have feline endocrine alopecia. This is basically just baldness. If you've actually seen the cat pulling the fur, it doesn't have it.

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