Feline endocrine alopecia is rare skin condition that sometimes occurs in cats. Pet owners who care for cats with this illness can be dumbfounded about what is happening to their cat’s beautiful fur as it thins and falls out. Luckily, the condition is not life threatening and it can be treated.
Scientists and veterinarians believe that the condition may be caused by hormonal problems involving estrogen, testosterone, and the thyroid, but the actual cause for it is unknown. No breed is more likely or less likely to get feline endocrine alopecia but it is found more frequently in neutered cats.
The most common area of hair loss is the abdomen and the inside hind leg region which effects 96% of all cats with feline endocrine alopecia. Other common areas include the back of the hind legs, thr front legs, the genital and perineal regions (19 percent of affected cats), and the flanks.
A veterninarian will look over the cat. He or she may prescribe a plastic cone collar to rule out obsessive grooming caused by allergy. If the hair does not grow back, than the next step it to take samples. Skin scrapings will be taken to rule out parasites. Samples of the cat’s hair will also be taken to test for excessive grooming which can be seen by short, broken hairs. A fungal culture taken from hair with determine if the true cause is dermatophytosis or feline ringworm. A blood sample will be drawn to check for hormone levels and endocrine function.
Feline endocrine alopecia is believed to have many different causes and because there are various different hormonal replacement therapies. An affected cat will receive different treatments until one is found to work. Medicine is usually oral and is given to the cat once or twice a day and often injections at the clinic are administered as well. Hair regrowth begins between 2-4 weeks and the condition should be gone by 3 months. It is common for the condition to come back sometime between 6 months to 2 years after therapy has been discontinued.
Feline endocrine alopecia is primarily a cosmetic condition so it is important to weigh the adverse side effects that are common in treatment. Side effects include cardiac complications, liver problems, mammary gland tumors, diabetes mellitus, and/or behavior changes. The veterinarian should monitor your cat’s health during treatment.