Alopecia (Hair Loss) in Cats

Overview of Feline Alopecia (Hair Loss)

Alopecia is the complete or partial lack of hair in any area of the skin where hair would normally be found. It may be caused by self-trauma by scratching or chewing, hair follicle diseases that cause the hair to fall out, or the failure of hair to grow after normal loss.

Severe hair loss makes your cat more susceptible to the elements. In addition, some of the diseases that can cause alopecia may also have harmful effects on other organ systems of your cat.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Alopecia (Hair Loss) in Cats

As with any disease, a complete history is very important. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

Following a complete history, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of the skin paying special attention to the pattern of alopecia, the appearance of the skin and how easy the hair comes out. A flea comb may be used to look for fleas, flea dirt or other parasites.

Diagnostic tests that may be needed to determine the cause of the alopecia include:

Treatment of Alopecia (Hair Loss) in Cats

There is no specific treatment for alopecia. Instead, treatment is aimed at eliminating the underlying cause of the problem.

Home Care and Prevention

Cats with alopecia need to be kept groomed and free of fleas. If the hair loss is significant, some cats may need to wear a sweater in the winter to protect them from cold weather. In the summer, sunburn may be a concern. If fleas are a problem, consult your veterinarian to discuss a comprehensive flea control program.

In-depth Information on Alopecia (Hair Loss) in Cats

Related Diseases to Hair Loss

Nearly all diseases of the skin have the potential to cause alopecia. It is important to remember that it is normal to lose hair. Hair follicles are continually losing and developing new hairs. Alopecia can be separated into pruritic (itchy skin diseases) and non-pruritic.

Pruritic (Itchy) Causes of Alopecia

Non-pruritic (Non-Itchy) Causes of Alopecia

Diagnosis In-depth

Treatment In-depth

The only way to successfully treat alopecia is to identify and treat the underlying cause. There are no symptomatic treatments.

Follow-up Care for Cats with Hair Loss

Since there are so many different causes of alopecia, follow-up by the pet owner and communication with the veterinarian is critical. Administer all medications as instructed. Keep your cat’s coat clean and properly groomed and observe closely for fleas. Flea infestation always makes alopecia worse.