Hair Loss in Cats

Feline alopecia (hair loss) is rare in cats but can occasionally occur for a number of reasons, the most common cause is over-grooming (which itself can indicate other problems with the skin or with parasites).

Causes and Symptoms

Hair loss can be the result of skin infections like ringworm, or infestations with parasites. It is often self-inflicted as a cat over-grooms an itchy area caused by an allergy or a flea infestation. Cats with sore joints may also pull the hair out over the painful joint are and stressed cats have been known to over groom themselves as part of a behavioural issue. Over-grooming may result in a problem with vomiting fur-balls as the cat swallows the removed fur. Unusual hormonal problems can also cause hair loss - usually without any itchiness. Some causes of hair loss (such as ringworm) are transmissible to humans, and although alopecia is extremely rare, it’s definitely not a time to delay a visit to the vet.


Your vet will need to look for the cause of alopecia. As fleas are a common cause of itching and resulting hair loss, your vet may recommend a flea treatment. If you or your vet suspect a behavioural problem is causing the over-grooming and resulting hair loss, then you need to examine your cat’s lifestyle for sources of stress. Consultation with a veterinary dermatologist is recommended if the cause of alopecia is unclear.


Management of alopecia always depends on its underlying cause. If your cat is suffering from fleas or other parasites, then treating them with antiparasiticides is the best course of action.

Remedying allergic skin disease can be challenging and taking advice from a veterinary dermatologist is best. If stress-related over-grooming is suspected, referral to a veterinary behaviourist may help identify the cause of the stress and provide advice on methods to reduce it. If painful joints are resulting in over-grooming, then treatment of the underlying problem or pain-killing medication may be prescribed by your vet.

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