Pet Health
cat losing hair alopecia

Cat Losing Hair - Hair Loss, Allergies and Alopecia

Written by Steph McCulloch


Cat hair loss is a condition that causes a cat to lose hair in certain areas of their body. This condition can range from mild to severe and can be caused by a variety of factors. Hair loss in cats is often a sign of an underlying health problem or it can be a result of a behavioural issue, such as excessive grooming or stress.
cat legs losing hair


Cat hair loss, also known as feline alopecia, is a common problem that affects many cats at some point in their lives. Hair loss in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from simple skin irritation to more serious health issues. 

Understanding the causes and symptoms of cat hair loss is important for cat owners because it can help you to identify underlying health issues and ensure proper treatment. In this article, we’re going to explore the causes of cat hair loss as well as treatment options and advice.

Understanding cat hair loss

sphynx cat wrapped in blanket

Cat hair loss is a condition that causes a cat to lose hair in certain areas of their body. This condition can range from mild to severe and can be caused by a variety of factors. Hair loss in cats is often a sign of an underlying health problem or it can be a result of a behavioural issue, such as excessive grooming or stress.

There are several types of hair loss that can occur in cats, including partial hair loss, total hair loss, and symmetrical hair loss. Partial hair loss is when a cat has patches of hair loss in certain areas of their body, while total hair loss is when a cat loses all of their hair. Symmetrical hair loss is when hair loss occurs on both sides of the body, typically in a pattern. Each type of hair loss can have different underlying causes, such as allergies, fungal infections, hormonal imbalances, or even cancer.

The symptoms of hair loss in cats can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms of hair loss include:

  • Bald patches on the skin

  • Excessive licking or scratching

  • Flaky skin

  • Redness

  • Irritation

In some cases, hair loss may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss

  • Changes in behaviour

  • A decrease in appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it's important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause of the hair loss and develop an appropriate treatment plan. If you’re a Waggel member, you can seek immediate vet care with Joii, a 24/7 online vet care provider. All you need to do is download their app and book a free consultation.

Causes of cat hair loss

hand holding hair

There are many causes of cat hair loss and it can sometimes be tricky to pinpoint one particular reason. However, we’re here to run through the most common causes to help you understand more about this specific condition.


Food and environmental allergies can be common causes of hair loss in cats. Food allergies are typically caused by a cat's immune system reacting to a specific protein in their food. This reaction can lead to hair loss and other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and itching. 

Environmental allergies, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of factors, including pollen, dust, and mould. When a cat is exposed to an environmental allergen, their immune system may react by producing antibodies, which can lead to inflammation and hair loss. It can be difficult to identify the specific allergen causing the problem, but minimising exposure to potential allergens through air filters or keeping cats indoors during high pollen seasons may help prevent hair loss. In some cases, antihistamines or immunotherapy can be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of environmental allergies in cats.


Parasites are another common cause of feline hair loss. Mites, for example, are tiny insects that live on the skin of cats and can cause a condition known as mange. Mange can cause hair loss and skin irritation and can be highly contagious. There are different types of mites that can affect cats, including ear mites and Demodex mites, which can cause hair loss around the eyes, ears, and mouth. Treatment for mange may include topical or oral medications, as well as bathing and grooming.

Ticks are another type of parasite that can cause hair loss in cats. When ticks attach to a cat's skin, they can cause irritation, itching, and hair loss. Ticks can also transmit diseases to cats, such as Lyme disease - which can cause additional symptoms, such as fever and lethargy. 

To prevent tick infestations, it's important to regularly check your cat for ticks and remove any ticks found promptly. 

Skin conditions 

Skin conditions such as ringworm, fungal infections, and bacterial infections can also cause hair loss in cats. Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can cause hair loss and circular lesions on the skin. It is often spread through contact with infected animals or contaminated objects, such as bedding or grooming tools. 

Fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis or blastomycosis, can cause hair loss and other symptoms, such as coughing and fever. Bacterial infections, such as pyoderma or folliculitis, can cause skin irritation and hair loss. 

Your vet can conduct a blood test, skin scraping, or skin biopsy the help find the cause of any skin issues. 

Stress and anxiety

cat getting head brushed

Stress and anxiety are also reasons why cats can suffer from hair loss. During times of high stress, cats often over-groom themselves which leads to bald patches. This behaviour is known as psychogenic alopecia, which is a type of hair loss that is caused by psychological factors rather than a physical health condition.

There are several situations that can cause stress and anxiety in cats, including changes in the home environment, such as moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member or pet. 

Other factors, such as loud noises, separation anxiety, or a lack of mental or physical stimulation, can also cause stress and anxiety in cats. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of stress or anxiety can help alleviate the behaviour and prevent further hair loss. 

Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal imbalances in cats can disrupt the normal functioning of the hair follicles, leading to abnormal hair growth cycles and subsequent hair loss. These imbalances can be caused by various factors, including thyroid disorders, adrenal gland dysfunction, or reproductive hormone abnormalities.

In addition to this, hormonal imbalances in cats can lead to symptoms like excessive grooming, itching, and the development of bald patches on the body, further contributing to cat hair loss.

Diagnosing cat hair loss

sphynx cat in sun

Diagnosing cat hair loss typically involves a combination of physical examinations conducted by a veterinarian, blood tests, and skin scrapings. During a physical examination, the vet will carefully examine the cat's coat, skin, and overall health to identify any visible signs of hair loss, such as bald patches, inflammation, or lesions. This examination helps determine the extent and pattern of hair loss, providing valuable clues for further investigation. 

Blood tests may be performed to check for hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid or adrenal gland disorders, which can contribute to hair loss. Skin scrapings are often taken to rule out underlying causes like fungal or parasitic infections. These diagnostic methods enable a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of hair loss and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to the cat's specific needs.

Treatment options for cat hair loss

Treatments for allergy-related cat hair loss typically involve identifying and managing the underlying allergens. This may include dietary changes, environmental modifications to reduce exposure to allergens, and the use of antihistamines or other medications to alleviate symptoms and promote hair regrowth. 

For cats suffering from parasitic infection, treatment usually involves administering topical or oral antiparasitic medications under the guidance of a veterinarian. This will help to reduce the risk of further hair loss and will eliminate parasites from the cat’s body.

Skin conditions in cats can be vastly different to each individual. Treatment for skin conditions is typically administered based on the specific diagnosis and may involve various approaches such as topical creams, medicated shampoos, oral medications, dietary changes, and environmental modifications, all of which are tailored to address the underlying cause and alleviate the cat's skin condition and ease hair loss.

Treating stress and anxiety in a cat suffering from hair loss often involves creating a calming and secure environment, providing environmental enrichment, using pheromone diffusers or sprays, implementing behaviour modification techniques, and, in some cases, prescribing anti-anxiety medications under the guidance of a veterinarian to help reduce stress levels and promote hair regrowth.

Treatment for hormonal imbalances in a cat suffering from hair loss typically involves identifying the specific hormonal disorder through diagnostic tests and then implementing appropriate interventions such as hormone replacement therapy, medications to regulate hormone levels, or surgical procedures, all of which are determined by a veterinarian to address the underlying hormonal imbalance.

Preventing cat hair loss

To prevent cat hair loss, it is important to follow several measures. Regular grooming, including brushing your cat's coat to remove loose hair and prevent matting, promotes healthy hair growth. Maintaining good hygiene by regularly bathing your cat with a cat-friendly shampoo helps keep the skin clean and reduces the risk of infections. 

Providing a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients supports overall coat health and minimises the chances of hair loss. Adequate hydration is crucial, so ensure your cat has access to fresh water at all times. 

Environmental enrichment, such as providing scratching posts, toys, and safe spaces, reduces stress and anxiety, which can contribute to hair loss.

And lastly, scheduling routine checkups with a veterinarian allows for early detection of any underlying health issues and prompt treatment, ensuring your cat's well-being and preventing hair loss. If you’re already a Waggel member, why not seek immediate veterinary advice with Joii? It’s free and available 24/7.

Understanding alopecia in cats

Alopecia is a condition that refers to partial or complete hair loss in cats, resulting in the absence of fur from certain areas of the body. 

There are various types of alopecia in cats, including:

  • Symmetrical alopecia: Hair loss that occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body, commonly seen on the abdomen, flanks, and thighs.

  • Pattern baldness: Hair loss that follows a specific pattern, often seen on the lower back or the belly in neutered male cats.

  • Self-induced alopecia: Hair loss caused by excessive grooming or scratching due to stress, anxiety, or behavioural issues.

  • Traumatic alopecia: Hair loss resulting from physical trauma or injury, such as burns, wounds, or surgery.

  • Hormonal alopecia: Hair loss caused by hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroidism or adrenal gland disorders.

The symptoms of alopecia in cats can vary but often include:

  • Patchy or complete hair loss in specific areas of the body

  • Redness, inflammation, or lesions on the skin

  • Itching, scratching, or excessive grooming

  • Changes in the texture or appearance of the remaining fur

  • Underlying skin conditions like dryness, flakiness, or infection

If you are concerned your cat is struggling with feline alopecia, a proper diagnosis by a veterinarian is crucial to determine the specific type and underlying cause of alopecia in your cat. From here, you can begin to source effective treatment.

Causes of alopecia in cats

When it comes to alopecia in cats there isn’t just one cause. So let’s take a look at the possible causes.

Inherited alopecia in cats

Cat's body with fur missing

Inherited alopecia in cats refers to a type of hair loss that is genetically determined and passed down from one generation to another. Certain cat breeds, such as the Sphynx for example, are more prone to inherited alopecia due to their genetic makeup. These cats may exhibit thin or sparse fur or even complete hair loss. While the condition itself is not harmful, it is important to ensure that these cats are protected from extreme temperatures and have appropriate sun protection due to their lack of fur.

Endocrine alopecia in cats

Endocrine alopecia in cats is hair loss that occurs due to hormonal imbalances. It can be caused by disorders affecting the endocrine system, such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). The hormonal imbalances disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss.

Treatment involves addressing the underlying hormonal disorder through medication or hormone replacement therapy, which can help restore hair growth.

Feline psychogenic alopecia

Feline psychogenic alopecia is a condition where cats excessively groom or lick themselves, leading to hair loss. It is often attributed to psychological or behavioural factors, such as stress, anxiety, or boredom. Cats with psychogenic alopecia may develop bald patches, primarily in the lower abdomen, inner thighs, or lower back. 

Treatment involves identifying and addressing the underlying stressors or triggers, providing environmental enrichment, behaviour modification techniques, and, in some cases, anti-anxiety medications to reduce stress and break the grooming cycle.

Diagnosing alopecia in cats

Feline alopecia is typically diagnosed through multiple methods including a close physical examination whereby a veterinarian will closely monitor areas of hair loss and the skin condition of the cat. They will also request medical history to learn more about the triggers and causes of alopecia.

After this, it is likely they will conduct diagnostic tests such as skin scraping, blood tests, allergy testing, and a biopsy. From here, an appropriate treatment method can be recommended.

Your vet will also monitor your cat's response to treatment. If they respond positively to specific treatments like antiparasitic medication or hormone therapy, it can help to provide additional evidence of the underlying cause of alopecia. 

Treatment for alopecia in cats

cat getting brushed

We know feline alopecia can be worrying but there are many treatment options available. 

For feline inherited alopecia, treatment is focused primarily on managing the condition rather than providing a cure because it is a genetic predisposition. Things that can help to manage feline inherited alopecia are to protect your cat from extreme temperatures, provide adequate sun protection, monitor their skin for signs of irritation or injury, and provide a well-balanced diet.

For cats with endocrine alopecia, treatment involves addressing the hormonal imbalance therefore common treatment methods include hormone replacement therapy and medications to regulate hormone levels. 

Psychogenic alopecia treatment involves addressing the underlying psychological or behavioural factors contributing to excessive grooming. Treatment options for this kind of alopecia include environmental enrichment and outlets to alleviate stress and boredom, behaviour modification such as positive reinforcement and anti-anxiety medication if your vet believes they will help to reduce anxiety levels and break the cycle of excessive grooming.

Preventing alopecia in cats

Though some types of alopecia are genetic, some can be prevented. Ensuring your cat receives regular checkups from your vet, is fed a well-balanced diet and has access to fresh drinking water are excellent ways to manage their health and prevent hair loss.

Additionally, providing your cat with plenty of environmental enrichment (especially if they are indoor cats) will help to keep boredom and excessive grooming at bay. This means interacting with them and introducing toys and positive reinforcement into their daily routine.

When to see a veterinarian

Signs that indicate it's time to see a veterinarian for feline alopecia include:

  • Progressive hair loss: If your cat's hair loss is spreading, worsening over time, or affecting larger areas of the body, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention. This could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

  • Accompanying symptoms: If your cat exhibits other concerning symptoms along with hair loss, such as skin inflammation, redness, lesions, excessive itching, behavioural changes, or overall discomfort, we recommended consulting a veterinarian. 

During a veterinary visit for alopecia, you can expect your vet to ask about your cat’s medical history and perform an examination. Discussing your cat's medical history, including any previous skin or coat issues, alongside a comprehensive physical examination will help them to gain a greater understanding of your cat’s condition. 

During the examination, they will carefully assess the areas of hair loss, look at the skin for signs of inflammation or infection, and evaluate any accompanying symptoms.

Depending on the findings during the examination, the veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of alopecia. This can include skin scrapings, blood tests to assess hormone levels, cultures to check for infections, or biopsies for further analysis.

Once a diagnosis is made, the veterinarian will discuss the treatment options tailored to your cat's specific condition. This may include topical or oral medications, dietary changes, environmental modifications, or further specialised tests if necessary. The veterinarian will also provide guidance on managing the alopecia and offer recommendations for ongoing care to promote hair regrowth and overall skin health.


In conclusion, cat hair loss can be a distressing condition for both cats and their owners. Understanding the potential causes of hair loss, such as hormonal imbalances, allergies, or behavioural factors, is crucial in addressing the issue effectively. 

Seeking prompt veterinary attention when signs of hair loss arise is important to identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Whether it's providing proper nutrition, managing allergies, addressing stress, or utilising medical interventions, there are various options available to help alleviate hair loss and promote healthy coat regrowth in cats. 

Remember, a veterinary professional is the best resource to guide you through the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cat hair loss, ensuring the best possible outcome for your feline companion's overall well-being and quality of life.

Whether you’re an experienced cat owner or a total newbie, our blog has got you covered. Explore articles relating to everything feline from hypoallergenic cat food and cat pregnancy, to haircuts and health concerns. We’ve got it all. Oh and why you’re there, why not take a look at our cat insurance guide so you can get clued up on everything Waggel?


Why is my cat losing hair on her back?

There are several reasons why your cat is losing hair on her back. It could be due to parasites or fleas, allergies, a skin infection, stress and anxiety, or a hormonal imbalance. The best thing to do is to consult your vet so that they can conduct a thorough examination and provide you with treatment options.

Why is my cat losing hair by his ears?

One of the most common reasons why cats lose hair by their ears is because of ear mites. Ear mites cause intense itching and irritation which can cause lots of scratching around the ears resulting in hair loss. There are also other possible causes of hair loss by the ears such as overgrooming or allergies so it’s best to consult with your vet.

Why is my cat losing hair and weight?

Hair loss and weight loss often indicate an underlying health issue that needs addressing. From parasites to hyperthyroidism, these symptoms should be taken seriously and talked through with a vet as soon as possible. Early intervention can improve the chances of success and a return to a healthy weight and coat condition for your cat.

Why is my cat's tail losing hair?

Like other areas of the body, hair loss on the tail often indicates overgrooming, dermatitis, allergies, fleas, or a hormonal imbalance. It is often difficult to diagnose a hair-loss-related condition through one symptom. By consulting with your vet and revisiting your cat’s medical history you can begin to identify the cause of hair loss and plan appropriate treatment.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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