Hair loss in cats can occur in many different situations, including but not limited to poor nutrition, autoimmune disease, fungal infections, allergies, and/or parasites. For instance, your cat could be experiencing hair loss due to an allergic reaction caused by fleas or food, or have a bacterial infection like Folliculitis. However, the most important thing to look for in your cat is a skin condition.
You want to see if the skin is inflamed, crusty, "normal" or full of scabs. If your pet is experiencing hair loss of any kind, it's recommended to bring your cat to the vet to find out the underlying cause.
Reasons for Hair Loss With Cats
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. Many cats with this disease pick at their tummy, sides, and legs. This pattern is especially popular with female purebreds who have nervous personalities. It's globally recognized as an obsessive-compulsive behavior wherein the cat continually "overgrooms" an area. Your cat may need an antidepressant or a change in environment, like keeping other pets away or putting up high perches. Additionally, cats experiencing pain in a specific area may lick themselves compulsively.
Alopecia and Baldness in Cats
Baldness, also known as alopecia, isn't particularly normal in animals. However, 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 so he or she can have a good look.
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 happen with 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 type of breed doesn't matter. Generally, the granuloma is seen in cats younger than 2 years of age. However, those older than two are most likely to be female, who are more likely to develop symptoms than males.
Folliculitis causes red bumps on the face and body in kittens and cats. This can cause itching, inflammation, and infection.
It primarily comes from damage to hair follicles. You can expect to see raised, red, and pus-filled or crusty bumps on the skin. Hair loss can happen due to your cat scratching at bumps. It can easily be seen as miliary dermatitis or skin allergies like atopy. Usually, folliculitis comes about during illness as a secondary symptom. If your cat is experiencing issues with their immune system, bacterial infections like feline immunodeficiency virus can occur. Additionally, drugs like steroids may cause an allergic skin reaction leading to folliculitis.
Other Conditions Causing Baldness
There are many conditions that can cause baldness with or without itching in cats and dogs. Other conditions not mentioned above include parasites other than fleas like Demodex mites and Notedres mites. 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.
Fleas and food allergies may also be part of the reason why your cat is balding. Fleas can cause bald patches on your cat's fur due to their relentless bites. Of course, your cat will naturally lick, chew, and tug on the area which may cause additional issues like sores and hair loss. There could also be allergies to fish, wheat, mold, or other factors that can cause itching, scratching, and over-grooming.