12 year Old Female Cat With Diabetes Has Been Losing Hair


A 12 year old female cat with diabetes has been losing hair for the last two months. The hair loss has caused two symmetrical spots on her back. There are no rashes or visible irritations of any kind and the skin is smooth and clear

The cat is eating normally and there are no unusual going ons in the litterbox. The reader asks whether this is due to old age or a medical complication.

The first thing to understand is that cats like humans lose hair naturally. Also just as humans do cats can have allergic reactions to materials, chemicals and even carpet deodourizers. Diabetes and hyperthyroidism which can cause cats to lose weight, stop grooming and become excessively thirsty are other reasons for hair loss.

A cat care expert replies:-

“In many cases hairloss is related to allergies, especially to flea bites or inhaled allergens but it can be to food as well.

If she went outside parasites such as cheyletiella or sarcoptic mites or a fungal infection called ringworm would be possible as well. With these I would expect some raw skin or at least signs of irritation however.

In an older cat with some known health issues and normal looking skin we also have to think about stress, pain from the abdomen, or arthritis.

Grooming releases endorphins so some cats overgroom as a way to deal with stress or discomfort.

I’m sure she’s seen her veterinarian quite frequently if she’s a diabetic but it is worth another visit to look for a urinary tract infection (very common in diabetics), pancreatitis, or spinal arthritis. If she was switched to a different diet when she became diabetic then it is worth comparing the old and new foods and if the new food has different protein and carbohydrate sources she may be experiencing a food allergy.

In the meantime to help relieve some of her stress you can try using Feliway sprays or diffusors. These are synthetic pheromones which mimic those produced to mark areas as safe and many cats find them soothing. You can also use pheromone calming collars as well. See this link for some examples: http://www.amazon.com/Sentry-Behavior-Pheromone-Collar-Inches/dp/B0026JAKWG

If these measures aren’t enough you can try a homeopathic calming oral medication called Bach’s Rescue Remedy. It can be added to their food or water.
See this link for further information: http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm

If her physical examination and testing come back without any problems then you could discuss oral medications with your veterinarian as well such as fluoxetine or amitriptyline as calming agents to decrease her stress.”
Because there are many reasons for your cats hair loss, it’s better to take it to the vet for an examination rather than trying to fix the problem through randomly changing the cat’s diet or giving flea treatment.

Depending on the overall diagnosis, be it illness, allergy or parasite, your vet may prescribe a different flea preventative, medication or other course of treatment to reverse the hair loss. Unfortunately in this case the reasons why this 12 year old female cat with diabetes has been losing hair may be difficult to initially pinpoint.


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