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What are Hair Loss?

Hair loss, or alopecia, is a condition in which a cat’s hair falls out or does not grow, and it can occur in cats of any age. Hair loss can be partial or total. Partial loss may be symmetrical or can occur in random patterns. In some cases, hair loss is localized to one or more specific areas known as hot spots. Medical diagnosis is necessary to identify why the hair loss is occurring and to treat the underlying cause. Alopecia is a sign of a variety of conditions, and it may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening issue.

Hair Loss Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Hair Loss in Cats

The most obvious symptom of alopecia is loss of hair in either patches or all over the body. Hair loss may not leave observable bald patches at first, but could begin with changes to the coat, including fuzzing, excessive shedding, or rough fur. Depending on the underlying cause of the loss, there may be various other symptoms observed, including those that do not appear related to the hair loss. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Hair loss
  • Red skin
  • Bumps or blisters
  • Scabs
  • Scaling
  • Skin loss
  • Itchiness and scratching
  • Cysts or nodules
  • Excessive grooming
  • Whisker loss
  • Easy bruising
  • Ulcers or open sores
  • Hyperpigmentation or darkened patches of skin
  • Foul odor
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Depression 
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Causes of Hair Loss in Cats

A variety of conditions can cause hair loss in cats. Alopecia can be a sign of diseases, infections, toxins, disorders, cancers, allergies, or infestations. Hair loss that occurs at or soon after birth is often related to improper development in the womb or hereditary disorders. Some common causes of hair loss in cats and other companion animals include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasitic infections
  • Skin trauma
  • Burns
  • Allergic reactions
  • Birth defect
  • Hereditary conditions 
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Friction
  • Stress
  • Over grooming
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer or tumors
  • Cancer treatments 
  • Some medications
  • Poison or toxins
  • Fleas, lice, or mites
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Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Cats

Determining the cause of alopecia may require extensive diagnostic testing because of the numerous potential causes of the condition. Be prepared to discuss your pet’s medical history, any medications or toxins they may have ingested, and any symptoms you have observed. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination while paying special attention to hot spots and the condition of the skin. A smear, culture, or biopsy of the affected area may be required for analysis. Combing of the hair to identify lice, mites, or fleas and examination of the hair at a microscopic level may provide information on the cause. Veterinary staff may also draw blood and complete a full blood panel and a variety of tests for common infections. Analysis of urine, feces, or any fluids may also be required. X-rays or other diagnostic imaging techniques may be employed to look for internal causes like cancer. 

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Treatment of Hair Loss in Cats

The treatment prescribed for your cat’s hair loss will depend on the cause veterinary staff is able to diagnose. Treatment plans will vary widely because many of the causes do not share similar treatment methodologies. The success of remedies will depend greatly on accurate diagnosis of the reason for the alopecia. In some cases, like those involving congenital or hereditary hair loss, no treatment is available. Some common treatments include:

Topical Treatments 

A topical cream is often used when treating alopecia. In some cases, the topical cream may treat the cause of the hair loss, but it is also common to use one to remedy symptoms like skin irritation. When hair loss is caused by fleas or similar problems, fungal infections, certain skin conditions, and skin traumas, this is a popular option. 

Antidepressants or Antianxiety Medications 

In cases of psychogenic alopecia, or hair loss caused by mental conditions like stress, medication may be prescribed to help the cat cope with the issue. This treatment has worked successfully in most cases, completely eliminating excessive grooming while the medication is being taken. This treatment carries some risk of side effects from the medication, but they generally are not severe. Behavior modification and removal of environmental stressors is often used in conjunction with this type of therapy. 

Antihistamines 

When an allergic reaction is the cause of skin discomfort and hair loss, this category of drug will be used to reduce the body’s response to the allergen. This treatment is considered low risk, and may be combined with other therapies used to treat alopecia even if an allergic reaction has not been diagnosed. 

Cause-Specific Treatments 

Numerous other treatments may be used for the underlying condition that has resulted in your pet’s hair loss. Speak with your veterinarian to understand how treatments for infections, cancers, imbalances, and certain conditions may affect your pet and what risks are associated with the recommended therapy. 

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Recovery of Hair Loss in Cats

The chances of recovery from alopecia depend on the cause of the hair loss. The hair loss in both total and partial cases may be permanent, especially when follicle conditions are the cause. In the event that infections or other treatable conditions caused the loss, the prognosis is usually good after treatment of the cause. Continue to monitor your pet’s condition, follow all instructions provided by your veterinarian, finish the full course of medications, and return for further medical attention if the situation worsens. Reducing stress in your cat’s living environment and feeding them a healthy diet will aid in their recovery. Avoid making any major changes until your pet is well on the path to recovery. If hair loss is permanent, your pet can still live a full life. Special attention should be paid to the temperature of their living environment in these cases. 

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Hair Loss Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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Hair Loss Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shorthaired cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Constant Grooming

My male cat has been chewing and licking himself since march. Causing him to have bald spots and losing hair on almost all of his stomach and inside of his legs, under his tail, and front legs. My current vet has tried all different meds for bladder infection, anxiety & stress, and fleas. Nothing works please help!!

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Over grooming can be a complicated problem in cats, and may require different therapies. It does sound like your veterinarian has tried many medications, but without knowing what they were, I have a hard time knowing what didn't work. It would probably be best to follow up with your veterinarian and let them know that things aren't better, and see what the next step is. If they have not tried Gabapentin, that is one medication that can be successful if other causes have been ruled out. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Not sure

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About 16 months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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Noticed A Smooth Bald Spot Right Be The Bottom Of Neck By Shoulder.. Not Where I Believe He Can Reach To Lick/Clean. It'S Pretty Big And Want There Yesterday. It Looks Like Smooth Like Never Had Hair In That Spot ,But There Was

Noticed a pretty big smooth looking bald spot . It wasn't there yesterday that i noticed and couldn't have missed it. It's not really a spot she can reach to lick or bite so i have no clue. In the pic her head is up but the patch goes up a little.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. That looks like an area that she may have been rubbing on, and I agree it seems odd that it is all of a sudden there. If she isn't scratching or rubbing at it, you may be okay to monitor and see if the hair grows back. If it is spreading or she is scratching at it, you may want to have a veterinarian see her, as they can test for parasites like Demodex and see what might be causing the problem. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 24, 2020

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Persian doll face cat

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Four Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Hairloss

After applying lifeboy shampoo the hairfall starts in my kitten plz tell me hiw can i correct this

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There are very few products licensed for a 4 week old kitten, and there may have been a problem with that shampoo. It would be best to have your kitten seen by a veterinarian, and take the shampoo with you so that they can see the ingredients. They may need treatment to help the skin become healthy again. I hope that all goes well for the kitten.

July 23, 2020

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Marvin

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domestic short hair

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

Hi there! I have a 12 yr old orange tabby boy named Marvin. He is predominantly an outdoor cat, and he has been losing quite a lot of hair in the past few weeks. He does not have any bald spots yet but his fur appears very frizzy and almost matted from his neck to his tail. We visited the vet last Thursday and Friday and they said his skin looked clear, no signs of ringworm or mites. His bloodwork also came back "spectacular" for all panels. The doc said he might just need help grooming being he is getting older. Any thoughts? Still worried about my boy. Thanks!

Aug. 22, 2018

Marvin's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Hair loss may be related to a few different conditions which may include infections, parasites, allergies among others; however hormonal conditions are another possibility and may not show up on a standard blood test. I would keep an eye on Marvin for the time being and ensure that he is fed a high quality food suitable for age and help with grooming ensuring he stays clean. If more hair is lost or patches of hair loss appear you should return to your Veterinarian for further examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 22, 2018

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Tom

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Desi cat

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3 Months

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Serious severity

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Hair Loss And Health

Hello I am having a kitten of 3 mnths old the problem which has now occured is that his legs hairs are getting less as well as his health is like to weak also having lots of swelling in bumb area please advice treatment

Aug. 14, 2018

Tom's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

A loss of hair may be an indicator of a more serious illness in the body; allergies, parasites, hormonal conditions, behavioural (excessive licking) among other issues may result in hair loss. I cannot say whether the issue with the anus is related or not but you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

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#3 and #4

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Cat

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2 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

Hello, my cat just had 5 kittens. 2 of them have taken on a new hair style. It looks like a Mohawk cut. There is almost no hair behind each ear. It seems to want to grow back and the skin looks fine. They don't over scratch or even lick to much. In total we have, at the moment, have 8 cats (3 adults, 16y/o male, the mother and the sister) and a female pitbull. I think the hair loss could be from from having to may groomers and/or playfighting with the other kittens. I notice that the Mohawks are 2 of the three males and are the smaller ones. I would like you opinion on this please and thank you

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Shelby

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Calico

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

In the winter Shelbys coat is full and shiny but as soon as the temperatures start to rise she starts to excessively groom herself. She looks like she’s mulching. Her hind legs looks like she has been shaved, and she has bald patches from the middle of her belly to her tail.

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Halle

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Tuxedo

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Excessive Licket Amd Chewing, New

My cat has been licking on her front legs and now has bald spots and now starting on the other and it is scabbed. Nothing has changed in her diet and have not seen fleas.

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Mia

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Tabby and bangle

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss Vomiting

Hello my female cat Mia is 7yrs old about 5days ago she stopped eating and we noticed hair loss on her lower back. Tonight she was throwing up, but she was actually walking around and she finally drank water. I’m not sure if she ate something bad or got poisoned I was just curious at what could be the cause of hair loss with not eating and dry heaving? Thanks Teresa

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Jasmine

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Female Bombay/DSH

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9 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hairloss

My female cat is losing hair everywhere and everyday. I don’t know why it’s doing it but it’s really annoying when I pet her... She’s really healthy and eats Friskies canned food and bacon and turkey. It’s just annoying but I want to know why she does that? There’s pieces of hair everywhere on me!!

Hair Loss Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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