Why is My Cat Losing Hair? 8 Reason for Cat Hair Loss

It’s not uncommon for cats to lose hair, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful! Seeing your cat with bald spots or patches can leave you feeling scared.

There are some cats that are supposed to be hairless (like Sphynx), but if your cat is normally furry, then there is likely something going on.

As a veterinary tech, I see cats come in every day with hair missing. A wide range of issues can cause this, including medical problems, fleas or anxiety.

Its medical name is ‘alopecia,’ and it can occur in any animal that has hair (including humans). 

It’s important to take your cat in for an exam if they are experiencing alopecia.

But if you want to narrow down the cause before you go in, we’ve outlined a list of 8 possible reasons your cat might be losing its hair. 

1. Fleas

By far the number one reason for cat hair loss is fleas. When cats feel itchy, they can lick incessantly.

This in turn creates patches of missing fur, because their tongues pull the hair out. Knutsford Vet Surgery explains that this is especially common on the cat’s tail and lower back.

You can easily find out if your cat has fleas by getting a flea comb and seeing if any fleas appear on it, or by spreading your cat’s fur apart and observing the skin for a few seconds.

If they do have fleas, you’ll usually see at least one cross the skin as you examine it. The solution for this type of hair loss is easy: flea treatment.

You can get it online or through your vet, and should begin providing it on a regular basis to prevent another infestation.

2. Allergies

Similar to fleas, allergies cause itchiness. In fact, many cats are allergic to fleas, so the two go hand in hand.

But your cat could be allergic to something else, like pollen, dust, food or household cleaners.

Diagnosing your cat with allergies is a process of elimination. If your vet finds that nothing else could be causing the hair loss, they can safely assume it’s an allergic reaction.

Allergies can be treated by providing medication or removing the allergen. 

3. Pain

Often, when a cat is in pain, they will lick the area that is causing them discomfort which then causes hair loss.

By licking it they can often relieve the pain somewhat, so they will continue to do so until it’s healed. The problem is that some pain is chronic, like arthritis.

If pain is the reason for your cat’s hair loss, your vet will determine if anything can be done to permanently resolve it.

If it’s something like arthritis, they will prescribe pain medication, which should reduce your cat’s desire to lick the region. 

4. Infection

While this is less common, some cats might lose fur if they have a skin infection. This can happen from staph infections, ringworm, or other fungal issues. This is easily resolved through a course of antibiotics or antifungals. 

5. Hormone Imbalance

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease in cats, and can often lead to hair loss, in addition to other symptoms.

There are also other hormonal and metabolic causes of hairloss, like Cushing’s disease.

A cat will need to have a blood panel to determine if this is the cause of its missing hair, and once diagnosed your vet will be able to treat it. 

6. Cancer

Cancer is an extremely rare reason for your cat losing hair, but it is worth mentioning.

Because cancer can disrupt hormones and nutrient absorption, it can result in a cat losing hair.

Paraneoplastic alopecia is a condition which occurs to some cats suffering from cancer. It results in itchy skin and hair loss. 

7. Emotional Problems

Cats love to groom themselves, and take pride in having a clean, blemish-free coat. But they can take this passion too far when they are experiencing stress.

If your cat is overgrooming, it might lose hair. If you moved recently or there’s been another major change in your cat’s environment or daily routine, they might be having some anxiety.

One way you can alleviate this by noticing when your cat is over-grooming, and distracting them with play time. 

8. Medication

There are many medications that cause hair loss in cats. Calling your vet and asking them if this is a side effect of any medication your cat is on is usually a great first step.

The solution, if possible, is to simply stop giving your pet that medication, but only do this under your vet’s advice and supervision. 

Prevention

While feline hair loss has a wide range of causes, you can reduce the chances of your cat experiencing it again by keeping them healthy.

Get them on flea prevention medication, and take them in for regular veterinary exams.

Ask your vet if you can use any topical treatments or medications to relieve their itching or pain.

Thoroughly examine their skin and hair once or twice a week, using a comb to see each section of the body. This way, you’ll catch any irritations or conditions before they lead to hair loss. 

*The content provided in CatProductGuide.com is not, without limitations, medical advice and/or professional advice and should not be construed and/or considered to be. We advise you to contact your pet’s veterinary care physician for specific treatment and care.*

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Lisa is a vet tech at a busy veterinarian's office in New York City. She finds her career incredibly fulfilling, and loves sharing her pet knowledge with the world. As the owner of FOUR beautiful cats, Sunny, Honey, Cali and Bear, she is a feline expert!