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Why is my cat losing weight and lots of hair?

Calico cat facing forward, with mouth open.

This calico cat is chatty. (Photo: Flickr/Patti Haskins)

Why is my cat losing weight and lots of hair?

November 01, 2012

Q: My 2-year-old Calico cat ("Mercury") seems to be shedding excessively and has lost a bit of weight. He is still eating about the same as usual. Until 3 months ago he was the biggest cat between him and his two siblings. Originally I thought his hair loss was due to some hot days we had this summer, but his siblings haven't been shedding or losing weight.

A: Excessive shedding may be due to various factors, including but not limited to weather conditions, like the summer heat you mentioned, and underlying medical conditions. If Mercury is easting a dry and/or wet food containing wheat, soy, gluten, corn, dairy products, artificial preservatives and flavorings/colorings and meat by-products, these are common allergens for cats and can cause shedding and skin problems, in addition to other problems. You can read more at vetinfo.com.

The weight loss is of concern, especially if his eating seems to be the same as usual and he is such a young cat. Weight loss in cats may be attributed to liver and/or kidney issues, diabetes, thyroid conditions, cancer, intestinal parasites, external parasites like fleas/mites, FIV, FeLV, stress, and other causes. You can read more about this here.

It would be advisable to have Mercury evaluated in person by his vet, so some tests can be run and you can get a diagnosis and treatment, if needed.

-- Answer from Cher JM, a feline health specialist on JustAnswer.

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