Cat pulling her own fur

A cat who has been ripping out parts of her fur and isn’t eating can mean many things. Unfortunately, when it comes to cats not eating, the list of possible diagnoses is almost endless. Most ailments have anorexia as a symptom, as these cats simply feel too sick to eat. Some of the most common reasons for anorexia include gastrointestinal upset, in which case the lack of appetite might be accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

Other reasons include:

  • Severe gum inflammation
  • Physical injury
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease, which is especially common in older cats

A cat who shows no interest in food is a cause for concern and warrants a vet visit.

When it comes to cats pulling out their hair, it is very seldom behavioural problems, and mostly due to a medical reason. By far the most common reason for yanking out tufts of hair is due to an itchy skin. While some cats respond by scratching, it is not uncommon for cats to pull their hair out. Establishing the cause of the itch, on the other hand, can be a challenge.

External parasites like fleas are a common reason for itchy cats. Your cat’s body might show an allergic reaction to the saliva of a single flea bite and that might be the problem, even if you cannot see any fleas. Luckily, fleas can easily be controlled with vet-recommended commercial products. In other cases, mites and lice might also be the cause. Itching might also be in response to allergies (either environmental allergens like pollens or dust mites, or food-related allergies) and will require your veterinarian’s help to decide on an appropriate treatment. It does seem like your cat needs to be examined by a vet. It might be that the two symptoms are linked and can be easily managed.

Dr Johan Jordaan, veterinarian

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