Any number of reasons may explain why your cat is losing fur or showing bald spots on its hind legs. For instance, hair loss could be due to an allergic reaction caused by fleas or food, or your cat may have a bacterial infection like folliculitis. It's also possible that your cat is overgrooming because of stress. No matter the reason, if your pet is experiencing hair loss of any kind, it's best to take it to the vet to find out the underlying cause.
Why Do Cats Lose Hair on the Hind Legs?
Hair loss in cats can occur in many different situations, including poor nutrition, autoimmune disease, fungal infections, allergies, and parasites. Many owners tend to notice it on the hind legs because it's one of a cat's favorite spots to groom. Therefore, if something is bothering your cat, the hind legs may naturally be a place for them to focus their attention.
The most important thing to look for in your cat is a skin condition. Skin that is inflamed, crusty, or full of scabs can indicate that it is a health issue rather than a behavioral one.
Stress and Anxiety
Most commonly, cats that lose hair on their hind legs are experiencing stress and anxiety. When a cat is obsessively licking and scratching at a certain area, it's called psychogenic alopecia. It's globally recognized as an obsessive-compulsive behavior wherein the cat continually "overgrooms" an area.
Many cats with this disease pick at their tummy, sides, and legs. This pattern is especially popular with female purebreds who have nervous personalities. Your cat may need an antidepressant or a change in the environment, like keeping other pets away or putting up a high perch for it to find a peaceful place to rest.
Cats experiencing pain in a specific area may lick themselves compulsively and it is rather common in cats who have arthritis. It's easy to mistake this for the stress-induced compulsive behavior, which is why it's important to rule out health issues first.
Alopecia and Baldness
Baldness, also known as alopecia, isn't particularly normal in animals, though certain breeds like the Chinese crested dog are hairless. Because hair loss is generally uncommon in pets, bald spots should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for a thorough examination.
Extreme itchiness, paired with licking, chewing, and biting, will cause hair loss (known as traumatic alopecia). This can also be seen as blunted stubble in the affected area.
When the skin looks normal and is not red, inflamed, or seemingly bothered, there could be a hormonal imbalance at play. For example, hypothyroidism can affect cats, but it's more common in dogs. Your cat may also have ringworm, which can be a subtle fungal infection, as many cats show few or no symptoms of having it.
There are other feline baldness conditions, like eosinophilic granuloma complex (ECG). This is an allergic condition in the skin, often with accompanying scabby areas. Most often, you'll see a mass or nodular lesion on the back of your cat's thighs, on the face, or even in your cat's mouth. This type of infection is restricted to cats specifically, and the breed doesn't matter. Generally, the granuloma is seen in cats younger than 2 years of age. In older cats, females are more likely to develop symptoms than males.
Folliculitis causes red bumps on the face and body in kittens and cats due to damaged hair follicles. It can easily be seen as miliary dermatitis or skin allergies like atopy.
This condition can cause itching, inflammation, and infection and you can expect to see raised, red, and pus-filled or crusty bumps on the skin. Hair loss is often due to your cat scratching at bumps.
Usually, folliculitis develops during illness as a secondary symptom. If your cat is experiencing issues with its immune system, bacterial infections like feline immunodeficiency virus can occur. Additionally, drugs like steroids may cause an allergic skin reaction leading to folliculitis.
Parasites such as fleas, Demodex mites, and Notedres mites are notorious for causing itchiness and irritation in both cats and dogs. A cat with fleas, for instance, may relentlessly bite at their fur and lick, chew, or tug on the area that's bothering them. This can cause additional issues like sores, hair loss, and even bald patches.
Food allergies may also be part of the reason why your cat is balding. Your cat could be allergic to fish or wheat in food, mold in the environment, or other factors that can cause itching, scratching, and overgrooming.
Regardless of your cat's symptoms, it's important to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately if your cat is experiencing any signs of illness. Hair loss is particularly troubling and, though it may be a behavioral issue, it's best to rule out health concerns.
Treatment will depend on the actual cause. For instance, medications may be prescribed to treat a medical condition and eliminating fleas or mites will help with that issue. If allergies are the problem, a change in diet or finding the source of a mold may be needed. For behavioral issues, reducing the stressors in your cat's environment or using a pheromone spray can make a significant impact.