Feline Alopecia: Is Your Cat Losing Hair?

Cats are incredible creatures with distinct personalities, entertaining quirks, and rich, lush fur that we can’t help but stroke when they climb onto our laps. So, what happens when our beloved cat starts losing hair?

Feline alopecia, the medical term for hair loss in cats, can be an alarming symptom that may cause concern for many pet owners. However, it is usually the symptom of an underlying condition that can easily be managed with treatment.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about feline alopecia, including its causes, diagnosis, treatment, and preventative measures. Let’s get right into it!

is my cat losing hair feline alopecia clifton park ny

What is Feline Alopecia?

Alopecia is a broad term used to describe hair loss or baldness in animals. In cats, this condition may present as areas of hair thinning, patchy hair loss, or complete baldness. It is essential to understand that alopecia is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition that could range from mild to severe.

Identifying Feline Alopecia

Cat hair loss can be subtle at first, often starting with thinning hair that progresses to more noticeable bald patches over time. It can occur on any part of your cat’s body but is most commonly observed on the back, abdomen, and limbs.

Noticing your cat’s hair loss might be challenging if you have a long-haired breed because the dense fur can easily hide thinning areas. Regular grooming can help you detect any abnormal hair loss early on. Signs of feline alopecia can also include an increase in shedding, hairballs, changes in the hair’s texture, and the skin’s appearance under the bald patches.

What Causes Alopecia in Cats?

Feline alopecia can be attributed to various factors, broadly categorized into parasitic infestations, allergic reactions, endocrine disorders, behavioral issues, and other less common causes.

Parasitic Infestations

Parasites such as fleas, mites, and lice can lead to significant hair loss in cats. They irritate the skin, causing cats to scratch, bite, and lick the area excessively, leading to hair loss.

The most common parasitic infestation in cats is flea allergy dermatitis. Some cats are highly sensitive to flea saliva, leading to severe itching and consequent hair loss. Similarly, mite infestations, like demodectic or sarcoptic mange, can cause hair loss.

Allergic Reactions

Cats can develop allergies to certain foods, environmental factors (such as pollen or dust mites), or substances they come into contact with (like certain fabrics or cleaning products). The allergic reaction can manifest as dermatitis, leading to itching, inflammation, and hair loss.

Endocrine Disorders

Certain hormonal imbalances, commonly hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s disease, can lead to hair loss in cats. Hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone, can lead to a variety of symptoms, including alopecia. Cushing’s disease, characterized by an overproduction of cortisol, can also lead to hair loss.

Behavioral Issues

Some cats may develop a behavioral condition known as psychogenic alopecia. This condition is characterized by over-grooming or obsessive-compulsive licking that results in hair loss. It is often stress-induced and requires behavioral therapy alongside medical treatment.

Other Causes

Less commonly, hair loss in cats can be caused by infections (fungal or bacterial), immune-mediated diseases, certain types of cancer, or nutritional deficiencies.

Diagnosing Feline Alopecia

Diagnosis of feline alopecia involves a detailed process aimed at identifying the root cause of hair loss. Your vet will take a complete history, including your cat’s diet, environment, grooming habits, and any recent changes in behavior or lifestyle.

A thorough physical examination will follow, with your vet checking for any signs of parasites, skin disorders, or physical abnormalities. Diagnostic tests may include skin scrapings to check for mites, fungal cultures to identify ringworm, blood tests to diagnose endocrine disorders, allergy testing, or a biopsy in rare cases.

How to Treat Alopecia in Cats

The treatment plan for feline alopecia directly depends on the underlying cause.

1) Administer Anti-Parasitic Medications

For parasitic infestations, your vet will prescribe anti-parasitic medications. These may be topical treatments, oral medications, or injections. It’s crucial to follow your vet’s instructions to ensure the complete elimination of the parasites.

2) Determine and Eliminate Allergies

If an allergy is causing your cat’s hair loss, the first step will be to identify the allergen and eliminate it. For food allergies, an elimination diet may be recommended. Environmental allergies might require changes in your home or potentially medications to control symptoms.

3) Manage Hormonal Imbalances

For endocrine disorders like hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s disease, treatment involves managing the hormonal imbalance. This could be through medication, diet modifications, or, in some cases, surgery.

4) Address and Treat Behavioral Issues

Psychogenic alopecia treatment often involves a two-pronged approach. Firstly, any triggers for stress or anxiety must be addressed, which may involve environmental modifications or even behavioral therapy. Concurrently, topical treatments may be prescribed to alleviate any skin inflammation.

5) Advanced Treatment Options

Infections would require antimicrobial medication, immune-mediated diseases might need immunosuppressive drugs, and cancer would necessitate a specific treatment plan depending on the type and stage of the disease.

How to Prevent Hair Loss in Cats

Prevention measures for feline alopecia can be tricky, considering the broad array of potential causes. However, general steps include maintaining a balanced diet for your cat, keeping them free from parasites, managing any known allergies, and ensuring they live in a stress-free environment. Regular vet check-ups are also critical to catch any potential issues early on.


While feline alopecia can be concerning, remember that hair loss is often a symptom of an underlying condition that can usually be managed with the right treatment. Always consult with your vet if you notice your cat losing hair. Understand that early detection is vital and increases the chances of a more straightforward treatment journey and a quicker recovery. Our feline friends depend on us, and by being attentive caregivers, we can ensure their optimal health and well-being.

If you need to see a vet in the Clifton Park, NY region, Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park is here for you and your pet. Give us a call today at (518) 383-6254 or visit us online to make an appointment!

Recent Posts

My Dog’s Tooth Fell Out: What Do I Do?

My Dog’s Tooth Fell Out: What Do I Do?  The Sudden Shock: Finding Your Dog’s Missing Tooth…

Read More

Acupuncture for Pet Pain Relief 

Acupuncture for Pet Pain Relief  If you’ve been searching for an alternative yet effective approach to manage…

Read More

Antifreeze and Pets: Keep Your Pet Safe This Winter 

Antifreeze and Pets: Keep Your Pet Safe This Winter  The Hidden Danger of Antifreeze As winter approaches,…

Read More

About Us

Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park was founded in 1989 as Animal Care Hospital of Clifton Park. We began with 10 employees, 4 of whom are still working with us today. The name “Cornerstone” has special meaning to Dr. Knott and his family, both because it symbolizes their commitment to “faith, family, and then everything else,” and because it promotes the animal hospital as a cornerstone of the Clifton Park community.