Hair loss affects not only humans, but animals too. The condition of hair loss is called alopecia. Though it can affect any part of the body, hair loss on the tail is common in kittens. A number of reasons may cause this condition.
Kittens are rambunctious and have the tendency to chew on anything, including their own tails, having not quite defined that it is a part of them. They will usually grow out of this behavior. Aside from being too playful, kittens may chew on their tails because of boredom, especially if they are indoor and confined to small spaces. Make sure to provide plenty of toys for your kittens and enough attention to keep them from being bored. In addition, they may chew on their tails simply because of an itch or a rash.
If hair loss is due to an itch or rash, fleas or mites may be the culprit. These blood suckers usually target the base of the tail. Kittens are prone to fleas or mites if they are allowed to run around outside. Therefore, it is always a good idea to put them on preventive flea and tick care, such as Advantage or Frontline, from your veterinarian.
Hair loss can be due to a physiological problem such as an imbalance of hormones. Your veterinarian might offer hormone therapy to fix the condition, though not without side effects. Side effects can include a personality change, such as displaying aggressive behaviors, or development of liver and heart problems.
Stress is often a major factor in hair loss. For example, kittens in animal shelters are under constant stress from the coming and going of visitors, barking dogs, etc. However, there have been cases in which new owners who adopted kittens would proudly report that their kittens are adapting to home life with a beautiful coat of fur where there used to be a mere patch. The best remedy for stress is to determine where the stress is coming from. Cats are sensitive creatures and the slightest change in their environment may cause anxiety, whether the change is in their brand of cat food, the addition of a new pet, or a visit from an unfamiliar family member or friend. Even wearing a hat you normally don’t wear can lead to anxiety for your cat. Be patient while waiting for your kitten to adapt. Offering some extra tender loving care in the meantime usually counteracts the stress and can minimize hair loss.
These are the common reasons for hair loss in kittens, though there can be other causes. Visit your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis of your cat's cause.
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Stefano Mortellaro
Ellice Lin graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She continued her education and earned a master's degree from Rice University. She is an environmental consultant writing air quality reports in Southern California.