Can Cat Anxiety Cause Fur Loss? Exploring Stress-Induced Hair Loss in Cats.
Recent studies have confirmed that unchecked stress or anxiety in mammals can cause fur loss. However, cat anxiety can do much more than cause hair loss.
Stress and anxiety may increase aggression or cause the cat to be overly dependent, and untreated feline stress and anxiety may escalate into physical and mental health issues such as fur pulling and circulatory health problems.
Can CBD oil treat feline fur loss and stress?
Although studies into CBD’s effects on feline anxiety and fur loss are limited, expert opinion and the cited studies overwhelmingly suggest that CBD can treat and prevent feline stress and fur loss through interactions with the endocannabinoid system.
In general, if your cat is losing fur and you are unsure of the cause, it is good practice to consult a veterinarian before you administer CBD oil or other treatment.
Tip: CBD oil has an excellent safety profile and will not cause a high in felines. The side effects are mild and may include dry mouth, fatigue, and nausea/diarrhea if administered at high doses.
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When stressed or anxious, a cat may lose fur through self-trauma, stress or anxiety-induced illness, or overgrooming. The factors to consider are age, breed, and the cat’s history.
A cat’s reaction to stressful situations can be obsessive licking. Obsessive licking may also be a sign of parasites.
Because of that, a full body check is necessary at least once or twice per week. Once you rule out parasites, wounds, or other skin issues, the next step is to rule out physical and mental diseases.
Chronic stress and anxiety can temporarily suppress the immune system. The immune system’s function is to protect felines from disease and infections and to prevent cell damage.
When immunity is suppressed, a cat is more likely to lose hair because:
- Allergies. With the immune system becoming less effective at toxin removal and reacting to threats, the cat is at higher risk of losing fur. Allergenic triggers for fur loss include insect bites, medicines, fabrics, foods, and environmental factors. If a cat is going through a stressful period, we recommend the removal of triggers and administration of CBD oil (see below).
- Stress and anxiety weaken immunity, resulting in increased occurrence of infections. Some opportunistic infections cause fur loss.
- Parasitic infestations are more prevalent in felines with compromised immunity. That includes mites, lice, and fleas.
For felines, immune dysfunction can be a product of not just stress and anxiety but also viral infections, cancer, malnutrition, and other issues. Consequently, if your cat is exhibiting the symptoms below, take it to the veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of compromised feline immunity.
With compromised immunity, your cat is at the mercy of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that will cause fur loss. The symptoms to look out for are:
- Increased occurrence of illness.
- Wounds, scars, or lesions take longer to heal.
- Poor fur quality/hair loss.
- Decreased appetite.
Remember, to cats, stress is defined as anything that triggers the central threat response system. A cat reacts to stressors through withdrawal, some become aggressive or overly dependent, and habit changes such as peeing outside the litter tray, spraying urine on furniture, and destructive behavior may occur.
- Hair pulling is a stress-induced condition that causes cats to obsessively pull fur or overgroom. To be sure, check the overgroomed location. Are there parasites, a wound, soreness, or something else that may be causing the cat to lick or pull hair?
- Excessive scratching.
- Open wounds or scratches on the skin.
Other symptoms of feline stress are:
- Excessive vocalization. The cat may growl, hiss, or meow more than usual.
- Appetite changes. Some cats may eat more, and others avoid eating.
Tip: occasional scratches, hair pulling, and licking are normal for cats.
Treating anxiety-induced hair loss in cats is a mix of therapy, medicines, and environmental changes. We recommend incorporating CBD oil into all stages of treatment.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that, quote “Titration to maximum doses of 30.5 mg/kg CBD (CBD oil), 41.5 mg/kg THC (THC oil) or 13.0:8.4 mg/kg CBD: THC (CBD/THC oil) was safely achieved in all subjects. All observed adverse events (AEs) were mild, transient, and resolved without medical intervention.”
According to the study’s findings, we know that formulations that contain THC can cause hypothermia, lethargy, and impaired balance and coordination.
We recommend only administering CBD oil or hemp extracts because
- CBD and hemp extracts are non-intoxicating and do not have an abuse or dependence potential.
- The side effects of administering CBD oil to a cat are mild and subside within a few hours.
Note: researchers are yet to establish a therapeutic dose of CBD oil for anxiety. Consequently, start with low doses and concentrations.
From expert opinion, anecdotal evidence, and personal experience, we recommend:
There are risks and benefits associated with diffusing essential oils for cats. What diffusing CBD oil will do for your cat is:
- Improve mood and alter destructive behavior. Your cat may be pulling hair because of stress, or it may be in a bad mood. Essential oils, including CBD oil are beneficial when diffused in that they calm the mind and body, be you a cat or a human.
- Adding rosemary and cedarwood to a diffuser can help repel fleas and other parasites, benefiting fur and skin health.
- Inhaling CBD oil can relieve pain and inflammation, improving fur quality.
Tip: Avoid toxic putting essential oils in your cat’s food or beverage. CBD oil can be safely administered in food, sublingually, or topically.
According to anecdotal evidence, diffusing CBD oil may also:
- Improve digestive function.
It is also necessary to create a calming environment for the cat. To that end, you should:
- Provide enough litter boxes. You may also allow outdoor access.
- Remove competition by ensuring there is enough water, food, and other essentials for all cats.
- Provide play areas and hiding spots for the cats. Some cats see strangers or visitors as stressors, and some prefer to be left alone.
- Play with your cat.
Create a Consistent Feeding and Play Routine.
A change in routine can be stressful to a cat. It can make felines physically sick, some may become aggressive, and some may become destructive -if say- they miss a meal.
For outdoor cats, locking them in can cause stress.
If you make changes to the cat’s routine, you may ease the transition by administering CBD oil. CBD oil will help alter mood, prevent aggression, and lower stress levels.
CBD and Catnip.
Catnip is a psychoactive plant that induces relaxation, happiness, and playfulness. If you have an overly active cat or if the cat is going through a stress or transitional period, combining catnip and CBD oil may provide the following benefits.
- CBD oil and catnip may be used as insecticides or pesticides. Recommend diffusing or topical application.
- Improved sleep and relaxation.
While existing evidence overwhelmingly supports the claim that CBD oil can treat cat fur loss, individual responses can vary. Additionally, some medications can interact with CBD oil or catnip.
In short, administer CBD oil orally, topically, or through inhalation to treat and prevent feline fur loss. If you do not notice any changes within a few days or weeks, consider taking the cat to a vet.
- Kulpa JE, Paulionis LJ, Eglit GM, Vaughn DM. Safety and tolerability of escalating cannabinoid doses in healthy cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2021 Dec;23(12):1162-1175. doi: 10.1177/1098612X211004215. Epub 2021 Mar 26. PMID: 33769105; PMCID: PMC8637357.