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Why is my cat pulling her hair out?
This happens to cats when they suffer from Hairball Induced Dermatitis or HIDD. The only cure is hairballs, which can be induced by, among other things, stress and anxiety. Cats seem to get hairballs most frequently when they are stressed.
Cats may pull their fur or skin to throw a hairball off. It can
cause them to vomit or defecate hair as well.
The hairball-induced dermatitis is often confused with another
condition called 'ringworm,' or 'mange,' in which the animal's skin
is irritated and infected with a dermatophyte fungus.
The problem, however, is actually that the cat is suffering from
stress-related gastritis, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is the gastritis
that causes the hairballs, not the ringworm.
While there is no known cure for HIDD, there are many things you can try to help your cat deal with the discomfort caused by the hairballs.
Make your cat's surroundings as comfortable as possible, including changing up the bedding, etc.
If your cat has a habit of jumping up onto things, be sure that his/her paws are trimmed (and cleaned of fur/wool if necessary) to prevent your cat from being injured.
Try not to have carpet/pile on your floor/rug - this can lead to your cat jumping up to get comfortable, which can cause hairballs.
Try to limit your cat's food intake to one small meal a day, to ensure your cat's stomach can handle the hairballs.
If your cat has problems eating hairballs, try offering her treats.
One or more of these items should help, but your cat will only know that the hairballs are a problem if you stop giving her any hairball inducing foods (like dry food), stop having her jump up onto furniture, and take the time to trim her paws.
If the hairballs are small, I've had good luck with one particular spot of mine that I call the 'Cookie Catcher'. I put in a small spot of food that I know I'm unlikely to eat, leaving it out of reach of the cat for a few days and then remove it. She'll eat from it for about 20-30 minutes and then leave it on the floor. The next day or two, if she doesn't eat from it, she'll come and eat from it (and probably eat it all up) and hopefully have no more hairballs.
Here's a question I asked on a site I belong to:
Do cats with loose skin need regular grooming?
(As well as others for sure!)
I would advise you to look into using a product to prevent their hairballs. It's like a baby seal wrap (used in the wild for the pup) but for cats. They also have a video on their site demonstrating how to use it.
Use the product at least once a day or every couple of days for the first week or two it is used, then once per week for 2-3 weeks.
Once you are happy that there is no hairball problem the product can be tapered to once a month.
They can cause skin irritation, which is why they aren't for everyone. (Note that my cat didn't have any skin irritation after a year of use!)
Other cats that benefit from grooming
Cats who have allergies
Have sensitive skin/allergies
Other cats that live in the same house as you
Cats that might be scared of humans
Cats that are nervous or anxious
Cats that might be afraid of baths
What if they lick themselves when they groom?
My personal opinion is that you shouldn't let them lick themselves in the first place. It's like encouraging someone to lick themselves in an effort to 'get clean'. I'd be much more concerned if I lived with someone who did this to me as a habit.
If I ever did have that problem with my cat I would be very careful not to make a habit of it and would try to train them that a healthy, healthy body, is cleaner than a dirty body!
It is possible that if the hairball problem persists and they keep licking themselves that it could lead to a ticker and/or arthritis problem. In that case if they are not feeling too good (e.g. are lethargic, licking themselves all the time or just feel sick) I would seriously consider going to a vet to investigate.