Causes of Cat Fur Loss

Cat fur loss can occur for a number of reasons, both physical and psychological. Since cat fur loss, or feline alopecia, can have so many causes, it's often difficult to pin down the reason why a particularly cat is losing his fur. Here are some of the causes of feline alopecia and their symptoms.

Allergies and Cat Fur Loss

Contact dermatitis, caused by exposure to irritants or allergens, is one of the most common cause of feline alopecia. Cats may develop this type of alopecia after using antibiotics, or after exposure to a range of irritants including metal, wood, plastic, dyes and other chemicals. Cats with contact dermatitis display fur loss and small, reddening bumps or blisters; the affected area may itch. This type of cat fur loss is often chronic, but can be treated by treating the allergies that cause it or removing irritants from the environment.

Cats may also suffer fur loss when they experience inhalant allergies to things like mold, dust mites and pollen. In addition to fur loss, inhalant allergies can also cause your cat to lick his feet obsessively, and may cause inflammation, itching and redness on the entire body and especially the ears. Cats with inhalant dermatitis may develop skin infections or hot spots.

Other allergies that can cause feline hair loss include flea and food allergies. Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when your cat has an allergic reaction to flea saliva; symptoms include fur loss, itching, redness, papules, crustiness, scaliness, skin infection and hot spots. Food allergies cause symptoms similar to those of inhalant allergies.

Fur Loss from Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common disorder in which your cat's thyroid gland begins secreting too many of the thyroid hormones responsible for regulating metabolism. As a result, your cat's hair will begin to fall out and he may develop unusually oily skin. His skin will become sensitive and he may develop hot spots or skin infections.


Skin parasites are another common reason for cat fur loss. The fungal infection ringworm causes hair loss, scaliness and crustiness as well as itching. Infestations of lice can cause fur loss, crustiness and itching, especially when severe. Mange can also be responsible for localized and generalized instances of feline hair loss.

Cushing's Disease

Cushing's Disease, or hyperndrenocorticism, is a rare disorder that can cause cat fur loss. If your cat has Cushing's Disease, he'll exhibit other physical symptoms besides hair loss, such as lethargy, excessive thirst and increases in appetite. His skin may seem thinner and more sensitive. The fur loss associated with feline Cushing's Disease occurs uniformly on both sides of the body, and can occur all over the whole body, though it's generally located on the abdomen.

Psychological Causes of Feline Hair Loss

Cats find grooming themselves to be soothing and relaxing, so cats who are traumatized or placed under chronic stress may develop a habit of grooming themselves too much. Changes in environment, additions to or subtractions from the household, anxiety, boredom and frustration can all be reasons cats might lick themselves enough to cause hair loss. Eventually, destructive grooming becomes a habit, and psychoactive medications may be needed to treat it.