Maine Coon tail thinning reasons

This page tries to focus in on the likely cause of hair loss in a Maine Coon cat's tail as there are a number of potential causes. But you'll have to consider taking your cat to a vet. The good point is that hair loss is not normally an urgent matter which allows for some careful observation to try and diagnose the underlying cause before a possible vet visit.

We all know that the Maine Coon tail should be 'plumed' in the words of the cat fancy. The breed standard describes it thus: 'long, wide at base, and tapering. Fur long and flowing'. It is a badge of this popular breed. If it loses it beauty, it's very noticeable and sometimes this happens. What might be the cause?

The brilliant Maine Coon plumed tail
The brilliant Maine Coon plumed tail. Source: Twitter and deemed to be in the public domain.

Here is a long list of reasons for hair loss GENERALLY which has been taken from a page that was written for PoC many years ago (and republished more recently). One or two of these are irrelevant in this instance as we are referring to the tail, but some will be potentially applicable.

As there are a number of potential reasons it needs to be narrowed down. My mind turns to the advice of Dr Bruce Fogle, who wisely said that 90% of hair loss cases in cats can be put down to overgrooming. The point though is what is causing the overgrooming? See the main reasons below this list.
  1. Allergic and Irritant Contact Dermatitis
  2. Atopy (allergic inhalant dermatitis)
  3. Mange
  4. Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  5. Painful or itchy area and licked to relieve it
  6. Stress displacement behaviour - licking
  7. Pregnancy and Nursing Hair Loss
  8. Hyperthyroidism
  9. Psychogenic Dermatitis
  10. Ringworm
  11. Malassezia
  12. Apocrine Sweat Gland Cyst
  13. Alopecia Areata
  14. Bacterial Infection
  15. Chemotherapy
  16. Congenital Hypotrichosis
  17. Cushing's Disease
  18. Drug or Injection Reactions
  19. Folliculitis
  20. Solar Dermatosis
  21. Facial Alopecia (not applicable here)
  22. Stud tail
  23. Skin cancer
There are two main reasons for overgrooming: the cat is stressed and grooming calms them down (as it does) or the skin of the tail is itching for a variety of reasons and the cat has to lick it to alleviate the itchiness.

Fogle states: "Hair loss in cats is invariably caused by excessive self-grooming due to a generalised feeling of itchiness". So, take the second cause as the most likely.

And you self-diagnose over-grooming by watching your cat. Or you might go a bit further and install a camera trap camera or security camera to record your cat's behaviour while you are away. These are cheap on Amazon, and it is likely I would suggest, that you'll get a result.

There are many reasons for stress in cats. Here are two: separation anxiety (being left alone for too long) and bullying by another cat in a multi-cat home. Both can be dealt with by the cat's caregiver through observation and remedying the situation through their actions.

Generalised hair loss (patchy hair coat) is more likely due to hyperthyroidism. There will be other symptoms which you can read about by clicking on this link.


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