Hair Loss in Cats

hair loss in cats

Photo by General Wesc

Hair loss in cats is often a frightening sight for pet owners who immediately rush their companion to the veterinarian for a diagnosis. When it comes to the domestic cat, there are many conditions and diseases that can create a hair loss problem. Some instances are quite normal, while other hair loss in cats can indicate an illness that requires medical attention.

When self diagnosing your cat’s illness it is best to start with the most obvious cause and work away from that point. Of course it almost goes without saying that beyond dealing with fleas and lice (possible causes of cat hair loss) you should see a veterinarian. This page is meant to simply give some guidelines gleaned from extremely reliable sources.

I set out below the possible causes of cat hair loss in the order of most likely cause. Cat hair loss has many potential causes and tests may have to be carried out to assist diagnosis.

Common Hair Loss Conditions in Cats

Loss of hair in cats doesn’t mean the end of the world, as there are plenty of reasonable explanations why excess shedding takes place. Many of the following common hair loss conditions are reversible and sometimes avoidable when an owner learns of the substances or circumstances that affect their feline.

Allergic and Irritant Contact Dermatitis

A cat may experience an allergic reaction when they become exposed to a variety of substances and objects that comes in contact with the skin. This may include metals (such as nickel), rubber, wool, plastic, and chemicals (dyes and carpet cleaners). Irritating substances, such as poison ivy, may also cause the inflammation that can lead to hair loss in cats. Additional symptoms include cat skin redness, small bumps and blisters, and itching.

Atopy (allergic inhalant dermatitis)

When a cat inhales house dust, pollen, or mold, an allergic reaction may follow. As a result, they may display redness, itchiness, inflammation in the ear, and hair loss. In some cases, an infection develops or a cat experiences hot spots.

Mange

It is a particular mite species that causes the infection that leads to itchiness, scales, and some hair loss in cats when the condition is severe.

Facial Alopecia

It is normal for cats to lose hair located between the eye and ear when suffering this condition. Usually, facial alopecia is seen when cats are between 14 and 20 months old. Shorthaired and dark-haired cats are the most affected.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Many cats possess flea bite hypersensitivity, where an intense reaction to the saliva of the flea is experienced. Common symptoms include extreme itching, redness, scaling, and hair loss. An infection may also develop as a result of saliva contact with the flea. See Feline Allergies (new window). Cats will lick excessively removing hair. Miliary dermatitis can sometimes be seen on the skin (red lumps).

Painful or itchy area and licked to relieve it

If an area of the cat’s body is painful she may lick the specific area. If it is a disease that causes itchiness the licking will cover a wider area. As cats lick a lot anyway, under these circumstances she will over lick causing a potential hair loss.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine refer to cat doing this as “fur mowers”. The area(s) licked help in diagnosis. Fleas, for example can infest areas around the neck (where a cat can’t lick) and also at the base of the spine before the tail begins. If a cat overlicks there it could be flees. In fact I regularly flee comb the hotspots on my cat to check for flea infestation as we feed a stray cat.

An allergy to pollen or food may in result in “fur mowing” the back and abdomen for example.

Clearly licking is normal but when it results in hair loss it is not and their will be an underlying problem. Lice and matting might provoke excessive licking but in my experience matting doesn’t. The first call then is to check for the simple and obvoius mentioned above. If they are all clear it’s vet’s work and it may be due to stress.

Stress displacement behavior – licking

Any number of reasons can cause stress in cat. But is it normal licking behavior. For sure cats like stability and routine. These are very important. For example it can take many months (perhaps up to a year) to fully settle in to a new home. In the meantime she may be stressed.

Licking can be a form of displacement behavior (some more on this subject – new window). When we are uncertain we and trying to think through a difficult problem we scratch out heads ot bite out nails or fiddle with something! Cats do the same. The classic is to lick their nose (the human equivalent of head scratching). If it goes beyond that it can indicate severe stress and a habit. The route cause must be addressed. It will most likely be something that we have done to break the routine of destabilize the environment. These should be easy to rectify. It might be separation anxiety for example. On occasions I have given my cat a little bit of Rescue Remedy in her food to help with stress levels. A vet will probably prescribe a mild sedative and a change in lifestyle. And see next listing.

Pregnancy and Nursing Hair Loss

When a stressful situation (such as giving birth) takes place, a cat may experience hair loss. Sometimes a loss in hair can surface as a sudden symptom, which can spread across the entire body. When the underlying condition is treated or is no longer a concern, the hair will grow back.

Hyperthyroidism

Hair loss and strands that are easily pulled out are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism, which causes skin lesions in about 1/3 of affected cats.

Psychogenic Dermatitis

The constant licking that some cats possess as a habit can lead to hair loss. Some of the possible causes of this condition include stress, boredom, and a reaction to changes in their environment, such as a new member in the household. Symmetrical hair loss is a common symptom.

Ringworm

Several different kinds of fungus can cause the ringworm infection, which creates crusts, scales, and hair loss in cats. Cat ringworm is the same as human ringworm and it is transmittable from a cat to a human (zoonotic). This is a reason why (some say) a cat should not sleep on your bed (I totally ignore this).

The above product on Amazon gets two excellent reviews and it is cheap. I’d give it a try first before visiting a veterinarian.

Sphynx cat
Not so much a case of hair loss more a case of never having it
Photograph is of a Sphynx cat copyright ©skithund

Rare or Uncommon Hair Loss Conditions in Cats

Sometimes hair loss in cats is not easily detected or beyond the remit of the average pet owner and it requires the assessment of a veterinarian in order to receive effective and accurate treatment. Below are a few instances that may or may not offer a straightforward remedy:

Apocrine Sweat Gland Cyst

Although a rarity in felines, water-filled nodules may appear in the head, neck, and limbs, which can cause hair loss in cats.

Alopecia Areata

With alopecia areata, patches of hair loss in cats are seen about the head, neck, and body. Itching is not a symptom of this condition. Usually, cats are able to recover from this suspected autoimmune disorder without any medical treatment.

Bacterial Infection

Hair loss in cats may take place when they are battling a bacterial infection caused by parasites, allergies, or a condition that affects the hormones.

Chemotherapy

When a cat undergoes chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer, they lose hair that eventually creates a soft and fuzzy appearance about their coat. Some cats may even lose their whiskers. After chemotherapy treatments are discontinued, the hair will grow back. Interestingly, the new hair may appear a different color or display a dissimilar texture.

Congenital Hypotrichosis

Kittens born with congenital hypotrichosis possess little to no hair. Any signs of hair are lost by the time the kitten reaches the age of four months.

Cushing’s Disease

When a cat produces or comes into contact with an increase of corticosteroids, they may experience a thinning of the skin, as well as hair loss. More on Cushing’s Disease.

Drug or Injection Reactions

Hair loss in cats sometimes occurs when they suffer a rare skin reaction to a drug that has been given orally, topically, or when inhaled. This type of reaction is most often seen when a cat comes in contact with penicillins, sulfonamides, and cephalosporins. Symptoms usually occur within two weeks of receiving the drug, which may also include itching, redness, swelling, ulcers, the formation of papules, and wound drainage.

Folliculitis

When an infection has attacked the hair follicles of a cat, pustules develop and open up to create crusts, which may itch and cause hair to fall out. Symptoms of folliculitis often surface on the face, head, and neck.

Solar Dermatosis

Some cats are more susceptible to the sun, where a reaction causes redness, scaling on the nose and ears, crusts, ulcers, and hair loss. This condition is mostly seen in cats with white ears.

Additional considerations that can lead to hair loss in cats include food allergies; feline acquired symmetrical alopecia (the symmetrical loss of hair on the on back of thighs, abdomen, and genital areas); granulomas (solid nodules); hair loss at the site of a vaccination (can last for months); infestation of lice; sebaceous adenitis (the unknown deterioration of the sebaceous glands); and seborrhea, which is inherited or part of a secondary infection.

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  1. Header photo: Published under an Attribution 2.0 Generic creative commons license. The cat lost his hair after he broke his leg.

Comments

Hair Loss in Cats — 96 Comments

  1. My 18 month cat is losing his hair at the base of his tail on his back and the tail on the underneath about half way up from the bottom he has no fleas and is an indoor cat he is also declawed. His coat is beautiful except for this bare spot.

    • Hi, sorry to hear about your cat. It is hard to comment of course. Have you considered (a) feline endocrine alopecia (hormone skin disease) or (b) psychogenic alopecia? You probably know that (b) is compulsive grooming. It mainly occurs in the shape of a stripe down the back and on the abdomen. The base of the tail can be a target too. You can check for this easily by watching his grooming habits. Stud tail is also positioned at the base of the tail. But I would have thought you would have ruled that out. I think you might ask your vet to do a test for parasites in these areas (skin scrape). Good luck. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  2. 2 years ago i rescued a wild mom cat and her kittens who are now 2yrs old. they hold up in our finished basement room. mom and other kitten are people friendly with just my husband and i but this other female kitten does not allow human contact. she will come out to visit but no touching or we run and hide. we have noticed that she has lost a circular pattern of hair about 3inches from tail on her back. no sores or reddness is noted all cats are fixed ,wormed and parasite free. we noticed this happening after we had new a/c installed. could this of stressed her out since strangers were in her territory??????????

    • It may be due to overgrooming in that area And overgrooming can be due to stress. And the environment where a cat lives can cause stress. Well done in rescuing her and her kittens but do you think a basement is a suitable place for her to live? Is there natural light and/or access to an outside enclosure for example? How much stimulation does she get in general in play and interaction with people? Strangers going onto her territory might make her anxious for a while. Does she have a place to hide? But that would pass. I think you might look at the environment she lives in if you decide that stress is the cause (i.e. have ruled out other causes). Good luck. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  3. Hi,
    My female cat, aged 2 and a half seems to develop sudden bald patches. When we re-homed her 6 months ago, I found what was a very sensitive patch (about a centimetre) between her eyebrow and ear. It was very tender. It eventually healed but the fur did not grow back.
    I have noticed this week she had a very tender, very sore patch on her rear knee joint. This is a lot larger and the fur has been licked so much it’s permanently wet and matted to the skin.
    I’m really worried. It doesn’t seem to be like the conditions above, and none seem to be recorded on the knee joints. I don’t know what to do.
    Please help!

    • Just to add to this – she gets plenty of fuss. We don’t tend to have a lot of strangers. She’s properly and watered, has a cosy bed, plenty of stimulant toys and a scratching post. We occasionally bring out a fishing rod toy for her to play with so she doesn’t get bored. She’s a well-loved cat who is never short of attention and love from us. She is our only pet – she didn’t get on with her previous owners other cat and was therefore taken to Battersea for re-homing. Her food tray and litter tray have not been moved about. She has plenty of her own space as well as space she comes to share with us. She’s certainly not a stressed cat – I did wonder if she was depressed through loneliness though?

      • She is licking the spot behind her knee to the point where it is sore – overlicking due to irritation of the skin or OCD. Is she licking a lot and/scratching? She may be stressed even though you have a nice cat friendly home. Just may have a nervous disposition. Stress can lead to overgrooming as you may have read on this site. But you would notice overgrooming. It is a bit manic. Flea bite allergy is a possibility. Are there small red bumps on the skin. You can “feel” them through the use of a flea comb. Do you flea comb? If she is licking due to skin irritation another allergy might be the cause.

  4. I have an indoor cat, 4 years old. She has a history of feline acne which was healed with a change in food and food dishes. She started losing hair on her tail 3 days ago. I’m starting to see hair loss on her hind legs. She does not exhibit any other symptoms. Any treatment ideas?

    • Just a quick thought. Is the skin in good condition in those hair loss areas? And if so, is she over grooming in those areas? Hair loss in hind legs can be due to overgrooming because hind legs are easy to reach places for a cat. Tails are groomed less it seems to me so this idea may be incorrect. Overgrooming is caused by personality problems/anxiety. If it is not that it will be some sort of skin condition in my opinion.

    • I have recently added another cat to our brood. he’s an older kitten with super soft fur, but had a small, scabbed-over bald patch under his chin. it has since become larger because he keeps scratching plus he has a little bit on top of his head now as well. the other cats are still fine, so I don’t think its contagious. any ideas?

      • Shannon, this page may help:

        http://pictures-of-cats.org/feline-acne-has-returned.html

        These problems have a number of possible causes, unfortunately. There are no obvious, straightforward solutions. Allergies and parasites come to mind typically. A simple possibility is the feeding dish may harbor bacteria. Use a ceramic dish instead. This is a speculative suggestion obviously. Good luck and I am sorry to hear about your cat’s health problem. A vet should run some tests and eliminate parasites and then move on to acne or allergies.

  5. my tuxedo cat is losing fur at bottom of both eyes. no itching, drainage,scales,bumps,nothing just hair loss about 2 centimeters each side. otherwise very spunky and healthy. hes 20mos. old. thank you elyce o’Leary

    • My gut feel on a common sense basis, is that he has might have discomfort in the eyes. This is causing him to rub his eyes with his paws. This is removing the hair. That is a guess. If it is correct, it will be due to an eye problem causing discomfort. You might check that out.

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  8. rescue from shelter–thought someone had burned her purposely–took to vet and not the case. big bald pink/red spots (about 3-4)–treated with antibiotic/prednisone–helped somewhat. vet gave shot and said it would last a month and then may reappear. after shot, she cleared up–coming up to a month and she is now re-developing them in the same areas. no bloodwork done yet–rescue trying to raise funding. i dont know name of shot but assume it is some kind of steroid. any ideas?

  9. My cat has been losing hair on her hind legs and the under part of her front legs. On each end (oppisite claws) of her hind leg is a red sore. i am thinking it’s overgrooming since we just got a new puppy 3 weeks ago but she is also not using her litter box for her feces. Are these common signs of stress and how can I help my cat?

    • Hi Jenny, these are classic signs of cat stress. She is overgrooming possibly (probably) which is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Grooming is reassuring for a cat. Not using the cat litter and depositing feces elsewhere is scent marking to try and re-establish ownership of her space after it has been invaded by another animal, your puppy.

      I find the answer to these problems tricky. You have to reassure her and give her back some of her space. The classic is to separate the parties and allow her to gradually get used to the new arrival. I guess the puppy should be confined a bit and your cat be allowed to have her territory with a gradual acclimatisation to sharing her territory (home range) with your puppy.

      I think too she has to get to be friends and companions with your puppy asap. That usually means a gradual introduction if there is not an immediate connection. I think it can be difficult to be honest but I don’t want to paint an uncomfortable picture.

      Good luck by the way.

  10. My cat was bitten in the neck I think maybe by a possum about a year ago. I was able to heal her wound. then about a month after that I noticed a nerve in her upper back is contracting from the middle of her back toward the tail. This happens all the time even when she is totally relaxed.Then she started loosing her hair in patches and all under her legs and from the middle of her underneith to the end of her body. She is constantly licking her self. She doesnt have any fleas or anything in her hair or skin.Her fur is very soft her skin looks very healthy.I was thinking that when she was bitten it may have caused her some nerve damage, but I dont understand her hair loss and the licking. If u have a posible answer, Please respond.

    • a nerve in her upper back is contracting from the middle of her back toward the tail

      My guess is that this is psychosomatic. I think it is a sign of stress or tension caused by the possum attack. She is showing signs of stress with overgrooming (OCD). Overgrooming is relaxing for cats. I’d focus on trying to get her to be less stressed. Be with her more often. Gentleness, quietness and calm and play with the removal of anything that might stress her. Remove the circumstances under which the possum attacked her. She may be fearful of another attack and/or an encroachment on her territory.

  11. I have a 6 yr old Calico female. Her health appears good, but over the last 1-1/2 months, she has lost all the hair under the backside of her otherwise beautiful fluffy tail. From the butt up to the tip of the tail. The hair on top is there but the bottom of the tail is down to the gray skin. She has no pain – Licks her fur but no great over-attention to the tail area (that we’ve observer). She recently was on 2x a day doses of Amoxicillin. That was stopped about a week a ago. Any thoughts and/or non-Rx treatments?

    • This may be feline endocrine alopecia or over grooming that you are yet to spot. Feline endocrine alopecia happens mainly with neutered males and spayed middle-aged females. It is caused by a hormone deficiency. However, a number of these cases are actually cases of overgrooming (called “psychogenic alopecia”).

      Hair loss that is symmetrical and in the genital areas is the symptom. This somewhat matches your cat’s symptoms. Another possibility is hyperthyroidism (less likely). This disease has many other noticeable symptoms so the disease be ignored quickly if they are not present.

  12. I have a 12yr old calico Persian. She is huge and very fluffy.She usually stays outside through the nice wheather and comes in when it gets winter out. she only stayed in a couple months this time. We built her a little house w/insulation and shingles. Yes she is spoiled rotten. Two days ago i noticed shedding spots on her around the shoulder blades. I ignored it and today it looked really weird. I moved her hair and she is missing her hair on left shoulder blade, arm pit, under neck baldness. no itching, no fleas, no irritation. She looks like a hairless cat in those areas. I am horrified. She still purred when I touched her. I don’t get it. Could it be from a stray cat like mange or something? I really don’t want to put her down.

    • I don’t think it is overgrooming (psychogenic alopecia) because these are hard to get to spots to groom or impossible to get to. It may be due to a hormone deficiency. Hyperthyroidism can cause alopecia. The hair pulls out easily. I don’t want to speculate. Also hyperthyroidism causes cats to have increased appetite and you have not mentioned that. Can you feel a small lump under the chin (feeling gently)? It might be a mange. Demodectic manage causes hair loss around the eyes and eyelids, however. It is not common. I think a vet check is in order to be honest to check out any underlying health issues.

  13. Hi, my ten year old cat just started losing the hair on his temples. He doesn’t appear to have any skin irritations, isn’t grooming more than usual, nothing unusual. Any ideas? Could this be aging? Thank you!

    • Becca – sometimes I have seen similar things on older cats. Perhaps it happens with seasonal change but I don’t really know. I know that pregnant cats lose a bit of hair on the temples and back of the ears when they are drained from giving birth and feeding their kittens. If it gets bad I would consult a vet though. I have had the same feeling about my cats in the past though. It also seems worse from certain angles.

  14. I have a tuxedo indoor cat, I recently gave my cat tuna for cats and I think my cat might be allergic to it. My cat has a bald spot between the shoulder blades the size of a half dollar. This has happened before, and has gone away within a few weeks and the hair has grown back with no problem. This time the spot seems to be getting bigger and I don’t see the hair growing back. In the past when this happened I put some neosporin on the bald spot and it went away. This time no suck luck. Please some advise. Thank You

    • Hi Gail, I am going to say something unexpected but which may, just may, be the cause of your cat’s hair loss between the shoulder blades. This is the exact spot where we are advised to put Frontline flea treatment drops. Frontline can cause hair loss at the place where it is applied. Do you apply Frontline flea treatment or a similar treatment to that position? If yes, that will be the cause. If no, I’ll respond with another idea. Thanks for visiting and asking.

    • You say “very dry”. What does that mean? The outside of ears are normally neither wet nor dry. I sense that there may be a parasitic infection on the outside of your cat’s ears or your cat has scratched them and the skin was broken and partially healed. Please check. This is a case for a veterinarian because it can be very uncomfortable for your cat. Please see a vet.

  15. My 17 year old black long haired female has lost an alarming amount of hair In the last month. We had a bad flea infestation that we had to fight hard to get rid of with three other animals in and out of the house and thought that once that issue was taken care of, all would be fine. However, she is almost 100% bald now from the mid body top and underbelly and all he way up to the tip of her tail. There are no wounds, pustules, raised red marks of any kind, she is not over grooming and has actually never been big on grooming herself anyway. The strangest part is, she is a big girl with very long thick black hair, and that hair is no where to be found. There are no clumps of hair or even excess hair in the house AT ALL. She is strictly and indoor cat so now that the fleas are gone, I am dumbfounded. All of the possible causes would still leave noticeable lost hair all over the house right? I have noticed increased litter box use and lethargy, so I’m thinking it is Cushing’s disease but where is the massive amount of lost hair? My home is immaculate so it’s not the case that I just haven’t found it yet and she does not groom herself. She never has….

  16. Generally, hair loss in patches signifies alopecia areata. Alopecia areata typically presents with sudden hair loss causing patches to appear on the scalp or other areas of the body. If left untreated, or if the disease does not respond to treatment, complete baldness can result in the affected area, which is referred to as alopecia totalis.

  17. Hi,I have a 9 week old kitten that was left behind by her mom when she moved her kittens from a neighbor’s barn. She was 2-3 weeks old and healthy, except her eyes were sealed shut from discharge. Once her eyes were cleaned, they were fine. I bottle fed her and she is a happy, healthy, kitten, but about 2 weeks after bringing her home her hair coat started to thin, but only the long hair, her fuzzy undercoat is thick and her skin is healthy. I thought maybe an allergen and my vet looked at her and said she was pretty young for that but it was possible. I changed her cat litter and weaned her off formula. She now has no hair but the fuzzy undercoat, except she still has long hair on her tail, legs and a thin collar around her neck. The hair on her face is normal. She looks like she has been shaved. She does not scratch or lick excessively, and her skin is completely healthy, no lesions or red areas. She is very active and healthy otherwise. My vet recommended a biopsy and I will do that if she is still “naked” when she is spayed. Do you have any ideas? (I did find one flea on her shortly after I brought her home, but her hair is so short that there is no place for any to hide and she is not itchy.) Thank you for your time.

    • My cat is two. As a kitten she had a beautiful coat of hair and a tail so full that I called her Gracie la Plum! Her hair has gotten shaggy looking because it kind of stands up. The hair from the middle of her body to the back has become short and thin. Her tail has lost a lot of its plumish fullness. I think she is a runt because she is very tiny, almost kittenish. I took her to the vet a year ago when her hair started to change. They did little for her. They told me it is unusual to see a cat who does not groom herself (as they accused Gracie of not grooming). I think she cleans herself, but even if she didn’t, I had combed her daily for months before I took her to the Vet. Could she need vitamins. I love her so much; I want to make sure I do the right thing for Gracie

      • Hi Maggi. Thanks for visiting and asking. As you can imagine it is very difficult to respond well to your query. I get the impression that Gracie does not itch. That in itself is a very good thing because it rules out allergies and they are very uncomfortable conditions. Could you confirm that she does not scratch herself because of itching?

        The hair change could just be congenital (born with that tendency – a genetic condition). Is he healthy other than her hair loss?

        The classic medical conditions that cause hair loss are excess thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism) and under production of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). Another hormone related problem is feline endocrine alopecia. The hair loss for this is symmetrical (even on both sides). Is the hair loss symmetrical? You can search for information on these on PoC using the custom search box at the top of this post.

        The first question to ask is, “is she otherwise healthy?” Decent activity levels and eating, defecating and peeing normally? You might like to ask a vet to check out these hormones. Good luck Maggi and Happy New Year to you both.

  18. I have a 2 year old neutered male cat, Reubin. He weighs 12½ lbs. About 4 days ago I noticed a bald spot under his chin… directly under his lower jaw. There’s no bleeding, but he has been scratching it, with his FRONT PAWS, while bathing himself, making it slightly raw. Reubin is strictly an indoor pussycat…. (the looks I get sometimes for not allowing him access to the “great outdoors”….LOL) Does anyone have any ideas on what this maybe?

    • It could many things but what comes to my mind is a form feline acne caused by the feeding bowl. You might try a ceramic feeding bowl if you are not already trying it. Some feeding bowls (plastic for example) harbor bacteria which can cause feline acne. The position of the baldness is significant. There is irritation there and the scratching is causing the baldness. This is a guess but I have heard this before on my website. Please give some feedback.

  19. I have a three year old cat who has lost a lot of hair in the last couple of weeks. We travel a lot and our neighbor takes care
    of her. She, with our other two cats, are fed and watered in our garage while we are gone. They all love to be outside most of the time and use the pet door in the garage. Her hair loss is on the belly, her chest, the sides of her body, her legs and her tail.
    I just noticed this hair loss yesterday. Prior to that I thought she was getting very thin.
    Help me.

    • Hi Joyce. I am not a vet. There are many reasons for hair loss. I can only guess. You should take her to a vet.

      However, she has lost weight as well. She may have hyperthyroidism. This cause a range of symptoms. Please check them out, including hair that pulls out easily and hair loss. It is caused by excess thyroid production. It can be controlled.

      But as I said, there are many possibilities. A vet is the only sensible route. Certainly with this sort of hair loss, over large parts of the body it will not be something like stress causing and OCD reaction.

      Good luck to you both.

  20. I have a 10 year old short hair that just recently we let outside for a few hours a day. We noticed a hair loss on her ears along with red scales. We took her to the vet and was told it is mosquito bite hypersensitivity. She was treated with corticosteroids. The hair grew back in a week.

  21. Hi Michael, I have a dozen stray cats that I feed regularly, unfortunately I can’t keep them in as I travel a lot. Anyway I feed them dry food, and they are all healthy. Only this one has this hair loss on one of her ears, she has a good appetite, but she basically lives on the street, so I know nothing about her history except that the hair loss is not expanding and doesn’t itch. I thought about trying an anti fungal, but decided to consult you first. Appreciate your help very much.

    • Please give me a little while to ponder this. Thanks for visiting and asking. I’ll respond soon.

      The photo does not show hair loss very clearly. It is just below the ear. Is that correct?

      Update: I see the hair loss now – at the top of the outside? of the ear flap.

    • The obvious reason is ear mites and the cat scratches causing hair loss but this appears not to be that because it does not itch. Mind you it is not always clear to observers if it itches or not.

      The picture is not that good to be honest so it hard to see where the hair loss is but it looks like the top of the outside of the ear flap.

      It does not look like she is scratching as you imply.

      A possible cause is overgrooming due to being a bit stressed. Food allergy is another possible but that should itch.

      If it is not itchy all the parasite causes are eliminated. Fungal infections can itch too so I am not sure that an anti-fungal will help but it won’t do harm.

      The cause could be sunburn and/or frostbite over the years he/she has lived outside. That part of the anatomy is very prone to damage living outside.

      If the cat looks well in himself and appears not to be in discomfort from the hair loss, then it should OK to watch and see what develops. That would help with diagnosis. What about trying to get a little scrape of the skin at that point, put it in a clean receptacle (get it from the vet is possible) and ask the vet to analyse it (if that is financially viable)?

      The trouble is the potential list is long so it is pretty well impossible to help you, Nerin. I am sorry. Good luck though.

  22. I have a male domestic short hair cat approx 3 years old. Brought home three years ago as a new born kitten along with 3 female kittens whos mother was killed by a coyote. Ringo, the male has developed circular bald spots on both hind quarters and a couple a little bit higher up. He licks them a lot and now has developed little sores in the bald spots. All four of the cats were neutered. The female cats do not show any signs of hair loss just the male. Any ideas as to what might be the cause of the hair loss?

    • Hi Bill, if there is no sign of any sore spots or scabs etc. on the skin anywhere on the body (check the skin the fur), then this has the signs of being due to stress, causing overgrooming.

      Overgrooming can be due to straight stress because grooming is calming for a cat.

      It can be difficult to see why a cat is stressed. It might not be obvious. Feliway, a pheramone you can buy might help if this is the cause. Male cats are probably more prone to stress because of their innate territorial temperaments.

      Normally overgrooming an area causing the fur to be removed is due to that place being itchy and irritating or injured. In turn the itchiness is often due to things like flea bit allergy or some other allergy or perhaps ringworm or even an immune system malfunction. Anything that causes the skin to develop red sores.

      But without any indication that there is itchiness in the skin then, for me, it points to what is called feline endocrine alopecia.

      Click on this page for other articles including this one on hair loss in cats and the best of luck.

  23. My tuxedo cat is half bald. It started 3-4 months ago when it was a small bald patch. I have brought her 3 times to the vet, the first one said it might be caused by fleas or parasites so I got her treated for fleas, but the balding became worse and the bald spots grew larger.The 2nd trip to the vet, I was told that it might be allergy to food, so I changed her diet to Royal Canin Skin Care.The first few weeks her fur looked less white, but then she’s started to go bald again, and even worse than before. I have her treated with fleas every month, and she is still eating Royal Canin. She has also been showing signs of discomfort (running all around the house and excessive meowing). What might be the cause of this problem? If it is stress, what can I do to relieve it?

  24. Hello, we have a 6 yr old Mane Coon cat. About 3 months ago she started losing fur at the base of her tail. Then we noticed all along the back side and down her back legs. Recently noticed her front legs are now getting bald. The hair seems to be growing back, but the skin does look red and irritated. We tried with flee issues but she doesn’t have any fleas and is an indoor cat. Food hasn’t changed. Please let me know what you think?
    Thank you
    Karen H.

    • Hi Karen, the trouble with hair loss is that there are so many causes. It is impossible to give firm information in a comment. However, the skin is inflammed. This could be caused by your cat scratching and/or over-grooming. Does she scratch or lick (a lot) the areas where there is hair loss and red skin? It would appear that this is not the case as there is hair loss at the base of the tail. This is a spot that is hard to get at to lick! In which case an allergy could be ruled out. You can rule out flea bite allergy if she genuinely has no fleas. Although it only takes one flea bite to cause the allergy.

      The next possible cause is a disease that causes hair loss. Feline endocrine alopecia causes hair thinning. However, the red skin might be caused by contact dermatitis. Do you use some sort of chemical on the carpet or other area of the house? Some household products can cause an allergic reaction in a cat causing itching and scratching/licking leading to hair loss.

      Conclusion: my gut feeling is that this might be caused by an allergic reaction. If the hair loss is caused by grooming then stress could be a factor too. Cats groom to relieve stress. This can remove all the hair and inflame the skin. Ask yourself if there have been any changes in the home that might make her stressed. Good luck and Happy New Year.

  25. Hi my cat is a stray that I have had for two years. She sleeps and eats inside but does her bathroom business outdoors. She doesn’t liked to be touched by anybody except for my 6 year old. She is more of a stray than an actually pet. We took her to the vet and fixed her as well as adopted her. We have not had any problems with her. A few days ago I let her outside and when she came back inside she was missing about 2 inches of hair on her tail. Her tail was fine when she left the house. We thought her tail may have been caught in a car motor that she might have been sleeping in but her tail appears to be missing more hair. We also had recent changes in members of our household, including a dog that now sleeps inside (she was previously an outdoor dog) and another child added to the house. I want to take my cat to the vet but she hates people and its difficult to get her into a carrier. I’m hoping someone has had this issue and can help me with this problem before I resort to taking her in. The posted images are from when I first noticed she won’t allow me to get closer to take new pictures.

    • A few days ago I let her outside and when she came back inside she was missing about 2 inches of hair on her tail.

      Hi Tarah, Happy New Year…Sorry to see this. Your cat was outside for a relatively short time it seems to me. The skin is raw. A cat can’t lose hair that fast through allergy or overgrooming or any disease. It takes longer. My first thought was that this is an injury. She may have been attacked by a person who threw something at her and it caught her tail. The continued hair loss in the area may be due to the skin being damaged slightly. It looks as though a person may have thrown hot water at your cat. That is a wild guess.

      Personally and I am not a vet, I would watch carefully and wait for a few days. Watch for overgrooming the tail. You might see if you can gently wash that bit of the tail. There may be a chemical of some sort on the skin. That is a guess to but a gentle wash with luke warm or cold water won’t do any harm. If she resists don’t continue.

      I would also keep her in at least for the near future and do a little bit of nosing around the area to see if someone dislikes your cat.

      The changes in the house might stress her as you imply but that would only cause local hair loss if she overgroomed there to calm herself down and you’d see that and It would take several days and more for this sort of injury to show. The injury happened faster than that.

      Good luck. Please report back if you have time.

      • Reporting back with images of my cat. I left her tail alone just to see what would happen and all the hair on her tail eventually fell off and is now regrowing back all on its own! I still don’t know what caused such an injury on her tail but it appears that she is going to be just fine.

  26. My cat daisy is now 17 years old, she does not go out very much now, she has lost a lot of coat on her back near her tail and under her back, she has also started to eat her cat litter

    • Hi Susan. This is a guess… but I sense that this might be anemia caused by an old age linked illness that slows the production of red blood cells. Has she got pale gums? Diseases could be kidney failure combined with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Anemic cats sometimes eat inedible stuff. There might be an element of PICA (eating non-digestible things) due to stress. If the litter is clay based she must be prevented from eating it because the clay expands in the digestive tract forming an obstruction. I’d take her to a vet,

      Best of luck to you both and Happy New Year.

  27. outside 8 month old cat, noticed an area where hair seems to have been shaved or like mowed. with inclement weather we have brought him inside, now noticed a second area that appears the same. not excessively grooming or licking, skin not red, inflamed or broken. your opinion?

    • Hi Karen, if there is a distinct patch of hair loss that is the sort of hair loss caused by overgrooming that area. However you say this is not overgrooming. Are you sure? You might want to watch him to double check that. Flea bite allergy causes irritation leading to licking certain areas. Close inspection of the skin might reveal small red areas. An outdoor cat is more likely to get fleas. Have you checked for fleas? If not comb him with a 32 teeth to the inch flea comb at base of tail and around the shoulders and see what comes out. I’d check these things first. If it is not these then it could be an injury of some sort but from your description that seems unlikely. Cats will lick injured areas to relieve pain. I’d watch and wait to get more information. If you can upload a photo that would be nice.

  28. I have a year and a half year old cat. He is starting to have bald spots on the inside of his front paws and inbetween his eyebrows and ears. He never used to have them until about a month ago. We got a kitten in November. They love playing with each other. More rough than anything. Could his balding stress from her, or playing too rough? Or possibly something serious?

    • My immediate gut feel is that this could be overgrooming due to (a) possibly stress or possibly (b) licking after contact with your new kitten. I think it is (b). I presume that your cat looks and acts as if he is healthy. I seems that he is washing his face with the inside of his paws (this is normal) but is doing it too much which removes the fur.

      I don’t think he is stressed by the new kitten because they get on so well. The only question I think you have to ask is “Is there some disease or illness causing the hair loss?” (which you are asking already). To answer that, I’d watch and wait. Is he washing his face a lot? Are there other signs of illness? If in doubt ask a vet.

      Also check out the obvious: flea bit allergy. Is his skin clear and normal? Are there red patches like blisters on the skin which indicate an allergy? Good luck and take care.

  29. We have 4 kittehs. One of whom has an issues with extreme hair loss. We do not know why. We took Toffee to the vet, they were saying the over- grooming , possible stress because I was gone for 2 weeks. However. He was put on antibiotics (injection) and put on Elavil 5mg q 24hr. Two weeks has passed since the shot, one week on the Elavil. So far nothing. Toffee is watched closely. He does not over groom. He lays around and sleeps. Eats well, drinks, no interest in play anymore. The whole litter is here. 4 of them. They are 10 years of age. The other 3 are fine. They do not go outside anymore, have not been for at least 8 months. He had been through a bout of being constipated also. He finally, through three treatments and SEVERAL hundred dollars later on track now. :) But the fur is unbelievable. He lays down, gets up, a pile is where he was. You pet him, hold him, you are covered. The vet was shocked. Any ideas? Other than what we have done, all I can think of is steroid therapy.

    • They are 10 years of age

      Hi Dorothy, I presume you mean 10 months of age (as you refer to them as kittens). There are many reasons for excessive hair loss. Hormonal imbalance comes to mind as a reason. The first step is to eliminate all diseases that can cause excessive hair loss. That is for the vet. I have to presume that the vet has checked out diseases and conditions such as: mange, feline endocrine alopecia, hypothyroidism. I don’t like the fact that he is sleepy and does not play. That indicates he is depressed. This may be caused by the antibiotics but could be an underlying illness not yet diagnosed. I wonder whether you should get a second opinion from a different vet. Vets vary in quality.

      Is there darkening of the underlying skin?

      If all the boxes have been ticked and passed then rarely it might be congenital hypotrichosis. This is a genetic condition where kittens lose hair they are born with but it is lost within about 4 months and you say he is 10 months of age. So that might not be the problem.

      I hope this helps a bit. The trouble that hair loss can be quite a complicated health issue. If it is congenital hypotrichosis then he is not ill. It is just a genetic condition that is making him hairless. The very best of luck to you both.

  30. My cat Gato is a yr old male Siamese mix. He was born with a deformed hind leg. It is four to five inches longer that his other legs and appears to have formed backwards in the joint area. When I got him he was maybe a week old, covered in fleas and his eyes were matted shut with green puss and it was definitely the worst case I had ever seen. After sever months of removing the gunk with warm wet wash cloth,he finally appeared to be ok. About a month ago he started itching a spot on his head So I look and he had some small yellow mites around the area. I was kinda shocked because he has never been out of the house, infact he never leaves the top story of my house and when I bring him down stairs he acts scared and hides. I looked on the computer and found that they can be treated with the main ingredient in lice shampoo. I treated him and my dog both. Within a week of treatment a baseball size rash appeared around his neck area and he was constantly scratching. After a day or so the area started getting larger and more irritated. Then really dry with what looked like little bumps with dried yellow liqudid around them. The vet gave him a shot for itching and sent us home with antibiotics. It healed quickly. Maybe a week ago he started itching and using his mouth to pull out his fur.Under his stomach, the sides of his shoulders and expecially his elbows and arm pits on his front legs are red,hot and dry. At first it looked like his hair was just thinning out in places but now on his elbow and under his arm have round extremely red spots with no fur at all in the spots. One actually looks like it is scabbing over in the middle. Could it be because The upstairs where he stays is all carpet? There are so many possibilities that I have no Idea what to do.I love him so much but am not financially able to keep taking him to the vet and Im scared to try anything on him without knowledge of the proper diagnoses I could just make it worse. Please help!!!! I hate to see him suffer.

    • Kelli, please tell me exactly what chemical (insecticide) you used when you say this:

      I looked on the computer and found that they can be treated with the main ingredient in lice shampoo.

      • Hi, I do believe the active ingredient was permethrin I do believe. Since I last posted I bought a fungicide that is safe for almost any animal or so it says on the bottle. It hasnt gotten worse but it isnt better either.

        • These are horrible insecticides. Sorry, but I’d never ever use nasty chemical pesticides. They are very poisonous. Always play safe. This is possibly the cause f the hair loss and irritation. Good luck. Then also watch out for parasites once this condition has subsided.

  31. No…I did not mean 10 months. The term “Kittehs” is just a term lightly used in humor for cats. It has been used for years. Anyway….
    Toffee keeps loosing fur and walks real softly. Almost as if his feet hurt. But after another $181.00 spent at teh vets * there are several vets at Acredale, so there is no need for second opinions as he has been seen and observed by several different vets there.
    Anyway…. He is depressed in my opinion. He is taking Elavil and yes it will take time (3 weeks or so) for that to work and in the meantime we are dealing with his fur all over. I bought some Aveeno Skin Relief fragrance free body wash and some 100% natural Oatmeal Formula Moisturize Dry Skin Plus Itch Relief by WAHL it’s for pets. It’s a waterless no rinse shampoo. Do you think these will help calm him?
    I don’t know what else to do. The vets are racking their brains too. He does not scratch, there are no patches, nothing. It’s the oddest thing you can think of. No other brothers nor his sister has any issues what-so-ever.
    He seems to be growing in new fur. Not sure if the photo helps or not.

    • Hi Dorothy, I couldn’t make your picture readable really to be honest but the picture of him walking indicates to me that he looks very ill. He has sore paws as well and is losing weight. He hurts basically.

      The treatments you are valiantly trying may ease symptoms but I don’t think they will touch the cause.

      It appears to be something rare and not obvious otherwise your vet would have successfully diagnosed it.

      As vets (plural) have failed to sort this out, it is going to be (sadly) impossible for me.

      My gut feel is that it is related to an immune system problem as these are notoriously vague or perhaps cancer? Has that possibility been checked out?

      Here is page on hair loss related to cancer:

      http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/skin/c_ct_Feline_Paraneoplastic_Alopecia

      I don’t think the hair loss is caused by a skin problem. It is caused by an underlying serious illness. Sorry Dorothy. I’ll do a bit more work on this today and if I find something

  32. Here is another photo of Toffee. He use to be fuller. However, his fur is just falling off of him. See above statements.
    Sorry separate, could not figure out hoe to do more than one photo per comment.

  33. Here is another photo of Toffee. He use to be fuller.
    Sorry separate, could not figure out how to do more than one photo per comment.

  34. If you’ll notice how thin his side is. I just pet him and I get fur in my hand. This is very odd wouldn’t you say. He doesn’t itch at all. Just sits in my lap and lets me pet him. Two days ago he actually lost over 1 oz of hair. He weighed 8.121 pounds at the office. Yesterday he was exactly 8 pounds.

  35. Hello. My ragdoll cat Lizzie is having issues with matted fur and now bald patches on her stomach. Most of her knots were on her stomach. I have tried to cut most of them off when she lets me, but most of the time she wont let me remove them from her stomach area. but I noticed in the last week or so,
    Large clumps of her hair around the house and when she sleeps now, I’ve seen the huge bald patch on her stomach. I’m not sure what I should do. Should I take her to the vet? Is there a cream/medicine I should use on her? Please help, I know she is uncomfortable.

      • Jessica, Sorry to hear this. Your photo is too big to upload. You can reduce the size. Click on the link below the comment. Better still take her to the vet asap. If you know she is hurting and I believe you do there is only one thing to do and you know what it is. Sorry to be hard on you.

        • Im planning on taking her to the vet tomorrow and to see if they can do anything for her. On top of everything she is pregnant. All she is doing just just laying around. Barely eating. She had this bad smell and nasty puss like on her stomach n chest area. You cant pick her up r barely move her.

  36. Hi Sabrina, thanks for visiting and asking. In the photo her skin doesn’t look irritated. It looks fairly normal. Are there signs of irritation: bumps, red spots,lumps, blisters etc.? If not this is probably not an allergy.

    How do you know she is uncomfortable? If she shows that by licking the area that may be why the hair is not growing. That would seem unlikely for such a large area. This does not look like overgrooming.

    There are so many reasons for hair loss that you should take her to a vet. Thyroid problems come to mind by the way.

    I would either: groom her daily and wait and see if her hair grows back and don’t medicate in any way or take her to a vet asap.

    Sorry I can’t be more helpful. It is just that there are many reasons for this.

    • Thanks so much for responding! I said she was uncomfortable cause I see her licking the area a lot & probably just me over-worrying, haha. There is two small red bumps she has near the edges of where her lack of fur and the fur meet. I think since its still winter weather here ill focus on grooming her everyday till it
      warms up some for me to take her to the vet. I’ve just never seen her with such a huge patch of fur missing. It’s just hard to figure out what’s going on. Thanks again for responding.

  37. I tend to collect stray/feral cats. One such cat had a kitten and left when she was very young. I tamed her and she’s been my buddy ever since. I cannot afford a vet for her because I feed so many, but she seems very healthy. She’s not a house cat, but she does come in quite a bit and is friendly to those of us who live with her, but not to strangers. Lately, I have noticed that her coat is thinning around her bottom and down her back legs. She has no redness or sores or anything, but she’s always scratched and groomed a lot. I have also noticed that she’s a little thinner, but her appetite is very good. I usually feed her hard kibbles mixed with soft food. She eats a lot of left over chicken, too! I have heard that indoor cats shouldn’t drink milk, but my Theadora always has and has no problems because of it. Do you have any idea what the problem could be?

    • Hi Angela. Thanks for sharing. These causes come to my mind:

      Feline endocrine alopecia
      Hyperthyroidism – excessive thyroid.
      Hyothyroidism.

      I think this is an endocrine problem. If she is thinner but eats OK, of these 3, it indicates hyperthyroidism. I guess she is not young anymore. Is that correct? However, the symptoms don’t fully match.

      Causes of hyperthyroidism.

      The best of luck and well done on helping cats.

  38. Hello, my cat (Max) is going to be 12 this year and I noticed last week his fur started to fall from this back and lower tail and there are also red spots. He bites his back and licks. Any idea what this could be? I made an appointment to the vet for this Friday. :(

    • Hello. This is an allergy, almost certainly. One of the most common allergies that causes these sorts of red spots on the skin accompanied by excessive grooming to alleviate the irritation is the flea bite allergy. If it is caused by the cat flea don’t be upset. It only takes one cat flea bite to cause a flare up of the allergy.

      It may be caused by some other allergy. It is the cat flea allergy then you will have two make sure that a cat flea never bites your cat again. In addition you’ll vet will recommend that you apply a spot treatment such as Frontline. If this medication is used the instructions should be followed carefully as it can be quite dangerous.

      I wish you the best of luck for Max.

  39. My 6yr old female cat has licked all the hair off her behind, tail and belly. She now has an open wound on the top area of her tail about 1cm long by 1mm wide, it is got clear fluid coming from it any suggestions?

  40. I have a cat that showed up on our doorstep 10 years ago and he was full grown at the time so i don’t know how old he is. He has lost most of his hair all over his body except for his head, shoulders and front legs. He has also been sneezing blood for a couple of months now. His legs have bald spots on them and it hurts him for them to be touched. I have given him antibiotics, i’ve wormed him and defleaed him. My Dad won’t let me take him to the vet, but i have been very worried because i know he doesn’t feel good. Do you have any idea what it could be?
    I also have a 1 year old cat and he has recently started dropping his back end when he walks. I had wormed all my cats and they still have worms. I am trying a new worm medicine, is their a kind of worms that are immune to the medicine?
    One last quetions. I have 3 cats that are 9 months old and they are still the size of a 2 month old kitten. NOT EXAGGERATING. They came out of a litter of 6. They all seem very healthy. Do you think their is something wrong with them?
    Thanks for reading all of that.

    • Hi Melissa. Thank you for commenting and asking. It upsets me that your father will not let you take your cat to the vet. This seems very wrong to me. You probably know that it is impossible to provide proper cat health advice over the Internet because a veterinarian needs to have the domestic cat in front of him. I vet needs to be in the presence of a domestic cat to properly diagnose and illness. Your father should realise that. In any case, all I can do is provide the best advice I can under the circumstances which are far from ideal.

      The disturbing thing about your hairless cat is that it hurts him when you touch his legs and he’s sneezing blood. anyone can tell that your cat is seriously ill. The could be multiple problems and you simply cannot specify a single illness with any degree of success over the Internet with a description. That is not to criticise you because you are clearly very concerned and are a good cat caretaker. When I read your comment about this cat my overriding desire is to put him out of his pain and discomfort. Cats are very good as you know of putting up with pain and discomfort and this may have gone on for a long time.

      Your cat is bleeding from the nose. This may be due to an erosion of the nasal membrane caused by an infection, tumour or parasite. Alternatively, he may have had a blow to the face which has damaged the nose. Is there any possibility that this may have happened? Might he had been hit by somebody?

      Hair loss of this extent this may be due to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or congenital hypotrichosis but this of course is pure guesswork. The sort of extensive hair loss that you describe is most likely due the diseases that I have mentioned.

      However, I have a feeling that your cat is ill by another disease as well because he is sensitive to the touch. You may have a serious underlying illness. Perhaps someone in the family wants him to be dead and I’m sorry that is a are highly provocative statement but that thought does come to mind, ugly though it is.

      Why are you sure that a cat that droops his back end when he walks is suffering from worms? I do not think that your 1-year-old cat is suffering from worms if it is only a symptom as you describe. It almost seems like he has an injury to the rear end of his body. Are you at home all the time? Are you able to supervise your cats at all times? Do you know what is happening to your cats when you are not at home? I would strongly recommend that supervised at all times and of course as stated there is only one course of action that is satisfactory which is your cats must see a veterinarian. if you are unable to do that then I feel that someone else should care for them and I stress once again that that is not a criticism of you.

      I am a bit shocked at the illnesses and symptoms you describe. Is there someone at your home who is fighting with you personally over the fact that you like to keep cats at home? I may be barking up the wrong tree completely and if so I heartily apologise but I think you need to ask this question 1st and I would tend to at least consider the possibility of re-homing. I am terribly sorry to make that statement but it does come to mind.

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