If you are the proud owner of a lovely Maine Coon, then I’m sure you are quite familiar with their beautifully smooth and shaggy appearance.
Developed as a layer of protection against the harsh winter weather in the state for which they are named, Maine Coons are infamous for their thick, luscious coats. But what do you do if you start to notice excessive hair loss in your feline friend?
Once you own multiple cats for an extended period of time, you are likely to come across hair loss problems to one degree or another.
In fact, hair loss is a relatively common problem, stemming from a variety of issues.
Most of these issues are easily identified and can be dealt with by following some simple steps.
In a few rare cases, the underlying problem may require the expertise and advice from a qualified veterinarian. In this article, we will dive into the most common ailments that may be robbing your precious pet of their furry claim to fame.
Read on to discover what they are and, more importantly, how to combat them. Usually, Maine Coons are not known for shedding a lot as you can read here.
1. Creepy Crawly Infestations
It may come as no surprise, but your Maine Coon is just as irritated and displeased with things of a creepy crawly nature as you likely are! Less than lovely creatures may become a bother and need to be dealt with quickly. These can include the following unpleasant parasites:
If you notice your big kitty losing some big hair, this is the first stop in your search for answers. Check your itchy kitty for any of the aforementioned hitchhikers. To do this, you can look for external signs first.
This includes sores that appear in the form of small, crusty bumps. Another sign to look for is tapeworms in your cat’s feces.
Fleas sometimes carry tapeworm eggs that, if ingested, can show up in excrement. While digging through poo may sound like an unpleasant exercise, I can assure you that your Maine Coon will appreciate the gesture if it helps alleviate their symptoms.
Of course, the surest way to know if your cat is being pestered by these pests is to find them. Special combs can be purchased that have tightly spaced teeth to remove the unwanted visitors from their hiding place. (If you need such a comb, I highly recommend getting this comb. It is inexpensive and gets the job done.)
First, place your Maine Coon onto white or light-colored piece of fabric.
This will make it easier to spot the small pests. Encourage your pet to sit still as you comb through the fur, paying special attention to areas that seem to be the most affected by hair loss.
As you are going through, check carefully on the comb as well as on the area around your cat. If you find anything suspicious, hang onto them as evidence.
If you are able to identify what you found, there are a variety of treatments and medications that can be used to eliminate the infestation. Otherwise, take what you find and go to your veterinarian.
They will be able to help you determine the next steps you should take on the road to recovery.
Even if you find nothing, it is a good idea to look into preventative options. In general, it is much easier to avoid pest problems with a preemptive strike than to exterminate them after they have gotten a foothold.
Anti-flea treatments exist in the form of sprays, collars, medicines, and topical solutions. If you need an Anti-flea treatment, I recommend getting this one.
2. Allergy Induced Agony
Yes, you heard right! Just as many people do, your big kitty could be struggling with an allergic reaction. If you notice symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes along with your cat’s hair loss, it could be allergies.
The list of possible triggers looks very similar to common human allergies, including irritants such as:
- Dust, pollen, or mold
- Certain types of food
- Colognes, perfumes, or other odor fighting chemicals
- Cleaning products
- Kitty litters
- Plastic food containers
Just as many of the causes overlap with culprits for human allergies, the symptoms do as well. One of the most common side effects of an allergy is itchiness, which in turn could be causing the dramatic hair loss you Maine Coon is experiencing.
Itching leads to scratching and biting, and excessive scratching or biting leads to bald spots.
Take notice of where and how these bald spots appear, as it can provide clues as to the type of allergy your cat may have.
For example, cats that suffer from a food allergy will often itch or scratch in areas around the head and neck.
For an insect allergy, however, the most commonly attacked area is near the back or tail. If caused by contact with a food container, your cat will experience the urge to itch beneath its chin.
While all these observations and theories can be evaluated at home, you will need to visit your pet doctor for an official diagnosis.
This could become necessary if you have tried a few simple steps, such as switching the type of food your cat eats or buying a different kitty litter, and the problem continues to persist.
Armed with the knowledge of what you have seen or tried, take your pet in for an appointment.
Using the information, you provide, the veterinarian will be able to recommend diagnosis and/or treatment plan. In the case of skin allergies, it may be as simple as a quick test and some living condition changes.
For a food allergy, it may include a more involved process of eliminating all potential problem foods and then reintroducing them one at a time to discover which ones are causing the allergy.
3. Icky Infections
Another potential cause of your cuddly cutie’s complications may be an infection. While infections may develop as a result of the insects and allergies we have previously discussed, various types of skin infections also occur as a result of the following additional conditions:
- Fungal infections (like ringworm)
- Chemical exposure
- Insect Bites
- Open wounds
If you are able to notice, take note of when your Maine Coon began itching or scratching the areas that are losing hair. If the scratching started after the development of a sore on the skin, then it is more likely that the cause of the scratching is an infection (as opposed to the sore developing as a result of itching and scratching).
Another sign that infection has set in, is changes in your cat’s behavior.
Infections can cause your Maine Coon to become tired and lethargic, or even run a fever. If you suspect an infection and it appears to be minor, you can attempt to treat the affected area at home.
Using a mild soap, gently cleanse the areas and monitor these spots on a regular basis. It may be necessary to clip or trim away excess hair to make it easier to maintain cleanliness.
After you have tried to address the problem area, if the condition fails to improve, you will want to schedule a visit to your veterinarian. The doctor will have additional tools at their disposal to help determine the root cause of an infection.
This can include microscopic examination of skin scrapings, culture tests, and blood testing. Once the underlying issue is discovered, the correct treatment can be prescribed.
Treatments vary from external and oral antibiotic medications to specialized soaps and shampoos. As you follow the instructions from your care provider, you will need to monitor your cat’s progress.
Follow up visits may become necessary if you notice a lack of progress or an ineffectiveness of the treatment plan.
4. Stressful Circumstances
Noticing a trend here? Another factor that causes similar effects for humans! Stress linked hair loss in humans, however, is a little bit different.
While we may use the expression in casual conversation, our feline friends may be literally “pulling their hair out” in response to stress in their lives. As is common in our day to day lives, your cat may be worried as a result of changes such as:
- New to your home, or moving
- Unwelcome additions to your family, humans or other animals
- Viewing stressful events outside through the window
- Changes in routine
- Excessive and/or constant noises
- Visits to the veterinarian
While stress caused by the above situations can manifest itself in many ways, one of the common side effects is excessive licking and scratching. Due to a condition called “psychogenic alopecia,” your Maine Coon may be feeling the urge to lick as a result of nervousness or fear.
This is a more common occurrence in females but can happen to both genders. As cats become older, they are more at risk of experiencing adverse effects brought on by stress. If stress is the cause, hair loss is most likely to be concentrated around your cat’s sides, belly, or legs.
Treating stress for your kitty can take different forms. The most obvious relief can be achieved by identifying and eliminating the source of the stress. Of course, some sources of stress may not be able to go away.
In this case, it is best to speak with your pet’s care provider about the appropriate course of action for your Maine Coon’s situation.
In some cases, treatment may be as simple as spending more time playing or relaxing with your cat. The extra attention may give them a boost to help cope.
Your veterinarian may also suggest treatments that involve cat pheromones or anti-depressants to more directly combat a chemical imbalance that could be affecting behaviors.
5. Uncommon and Unpleasant Medical Conditions
If all of the other diagnoses and treatments that we have outlined fall short of helping out your Maine Coon’s hair loss, there are a few possible explanations. While these conditions are rare, they have been known to happen. These include the following:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Congenital disorders
- Cushing’s Disease
Each of these conditions can show different signs and symptoms, which makes them more difficult to diagnose at home. Aside from a condition called “feline symmetrical alopecia” that causes a distinctive “mirrored image” pattern of hair loss on your cat, these are best investigated by your veterinarian.
Take down detailed notes of all of what your cat is experiencing and provide them to your pet care provider.
Nearly anything could be potentially relevant, including diet, behavior, symptoms and a host of other details. As a rule of thumb, if in doubt, write it down!
This will give them the best overall picture so that they can determine the most effective route forward for diagnosis and treatment of any underlying conditions.
Depending on the diagnosis, treatments encompass a wide range of actions. Some of the conditions have no known treatments, leaving you and your pet care provider to address the symptoms your Maine Coon experiences as best you can.
Other treatments may involve surgical interventions, or specialized medications and therapies.
While the odds against your precious pet developing these rare issues are in your favor, it is important not to overlook any possibilities when it comes to your cat’s health.
If you suspect that your Maine Coon is suffering from any of these rare conditions, consult with professionals immediately to get your special companion the best care possible.
Dealing with excessive hair loss with your Maine Coon is a very real possibility, considering the common causes that exist. The good news, however, is that the most common causes also come with relatively simple and effective treatments.
While the best strategy for fighting hair-loss is by taking preventative measures wherever possible, there is a vast body of knowledge to aid in the successful recovery of your fluffy friend.
If you are paying close attention, your Maine Coon will communicate any struggles through the signs and symptoms that result from their discomfort.
While some conditions are not able to be treated or may require extensive care, the majority of cases are easily diagnosed and treated. As a responsible pet owner, you can take notice and then take action to keep you and your precious kitty on the “furry” side of life!