Reasons for Bald Spots on Cats

If you’ve started noticing bald spots appearing on your cat’s fur coat, it can be quite alarming. Hair loss in cats, also known as cat alopecia, can happen for a variety of reasons, some more serious than others.

If you have started to see signs of hair loss, you will want to discover the root cause of the loss.

Why is my cat missing a patch of hair?

There are many possible reasons that your cat may be losing your hair. Some can be attributed to outside factors, while others may be a sign that your cat has a medical condition that needs treatment.

Most times, hair loss in cats can be attributed to one of the following reasons:

  • Fleas or other parasites
  • Ringworm
  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Cancer

How do you treat a bald spot on a cat?

The treatment needed varies based on what has caused the bald patch in the first place. There is, unfortunately, not one ‘cure-all’ treatment that will help your cat regrow their hair regardless of the reason behind them losing it. For example, the treatment for a cat under high levels of stress looks very different from the treatment for a cat that has fleas.

This is why when you notice bald spots, your first step should always be identifying the cause of the problem. Each of the sections below addresses one of these main causes to help you identify what is ailing your kitty. We’ll also share some possible remedies. As always, if you have any questions or need further support, be sure to reach out to your cat’s veterinarian!

Fleas and Other Parasites

Fleas are one of the most common reasons for cats loosing their hair.  When cats have fleas, or other parasites like mites, ticks, or lice, they may scratch or lick their fur to try to get rid of the itchy sensations they are experiencing. Excessive grooming and scratching is not the only problem, though! Some cats have allergic reactions to flea saliva, resulting in visible bald spots and irritated skin areas – this usually happens on the face or the neck. Interestingly, this allergic reaction happens within 14 days after the fleas have disappeared.

What are the signs that a cat has fleas?

In the video below, Karen Hiestand, a veterinary at Cats Protection in the UK, shares a few other signs that your cat may have fleas. Aside from the hair loss, you may also notice the adult fleas jumping or moving on your cat’s fur. However, adult fleas are not always easy to spot since they move so quickly. Don’t rule out the possibility that your cat has fleas just because you do not see any fleas on them.

Another thing you can look for is flea dirt in your cat’s coat. Flea dirt, which is flea feces, is digested blood. It will typically look like little specks of pepper, but will turn a rusty red color if you rub it with water.

What should I do if my cat has fleas?

If your cat has fleas, you will want to treat them as well as the home environment. Karen Hiestand explains that you need to get rid of fleas in all stages of the life cycle in order to completely remove the threat. Every day, each flea lays 50 eggs, so it is easy to see how quickly a flea problem can get out of control.

When selecting a flea treatment for your cat, choose an appropriate and recommended treatment from your veterinarian. This will ensure that the product will be both safe and effective for your cat.

In addition to treating your cat, you will also need to treat your home to remove any flea eggs or larvae that may have fallen off your cat. There are environmental sprays that are designed for this purpose. Your veterinarian is also a good source for obtaining and safe and reliable product.

Ringworms

Ringworm may be another possible cause for your cat’s bald patches. It is more common in kittens or long-haired cats, though it is still possible for older cats or short-hair cats to get it. If your cat has lost hair due to ringworm, you’ll likely notice that the area of hair loss is circular.

If you suspect that ringworm may be the reasons behind your cat’s hair loss, you can bring them into your veterinarian. They can do a fungal culture or a skin biopsy to confirm that your cat has ringworm. You can find worm treatments for cats here.

How can you tell if a cat has ringworm?

Some additional symptoms of ringworm you may notice beyond the circular or patchy area of hair loss. These can include dandruff on your cat’s coat, dark, red, or irritated skin, increased scratching due to itchiness, and rounded or oozing lesions on your cat’s skin.

Stress

Stress in cats can manifest itself in many ways, one of which is hair loss. Cats who are stressed may begin to scratch or compulsively lick their fur. This is referred to as psychogenic alopecia.

Can cats get bald spots from stress?

Yes, over-licking due to psychogenic alopecia may cause bald patches. This condition is most common in female purebred cats, though these are not the only cats who can be affected by it.

If you suspect that stress is the reason for your cat’s hair loss, you can try making changes to the environment to help ease her stress. These changes may include separating your cat from other pets that may be contributing to the stress, providing extra attention, or setting up a cat tree to provide her with a safe spot to retreat.

Some cats may also require medication to manage their stress and anxiety levels. If you think this is the case, speak with your veterinarian to get their thoughts and recommendations.

Allergies

Allergies are the most common reason bald spots. it makes cats very itchy, which causes them to lick their fur. Over time, this excessive licking can lead to bald spots.

If your cat has allergies, they could be caused by a variety of factors. Some cats may be allergic to something in the environment, such as dust or insect bites. These cats may require medication to manage their allergies.

Other cats may be allergic to a food or medication they are taking. Once you determine the cause of their allergies, you can switch their food or medication and may not need to medicate them.

Cancer

While it is pretty rare, cancer could also be behind your cat’s hair loss. Feline paraneoplastic alopecia can be a sign that a cat has pancreatic cancer. Cats with this condition may shed more frequently, scratch themselves, or groom themselves more frequently.

It is also possible that you may notice cracks on the pads of your cat’s feet. Weight loss and a decrease in appetite are also symptoms to look out for in cats with feline paraneoplastic alopecia. If you notice any of these symptoms, you will want to schedule a visit with your veterinarian right away.

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