Bald Spot on Cat’s Head, Neck, Back, Legs, Stomach, or Above Eyes: Why is My Cat Balding and What Should I Do?

cat with healthy hair - find out causes of bald spot on cat
A cat with healthy hair - both external and internal factors can cause a bald spot on cat's fur

As a loving cat owner, spotting unappealing bald patches on your feline buddy’s coat and skin is pretty bothersome. Numerous underlying causes may be to blame for a bald spot on cat ranging from allergies to fleas and ringworms. This article explores these common causes of cat balding along with treatment approaches typically used to address them.

Why Does My Cat Have Bald Spots? – Common Causes of Bald Patches

My cat has bald spot on the head, what could be the cause? Sounds familiar? Well, it is normal for cats to shed their coat. This may be particularly defined after winter. If your cat sheds so much hair that she gets bald patches on the head, neck, back, legs, stomach, ears, or above the eyes, there might be an underlying problem that warrants your attention. Your veterinarian will help you determine the underlying causes. The underlying causes of a bald spot on cats’ skin are in the majority of cases not serious and may include:

Parasitic Infestation

An infestation with parasites such as fleas, lice, mites, ticks is a likely reason why your cat is going bald on the ears, back, stomach, or head. Of these, fleas are the most commonly implicated.

Parasites don’t cause hair loss – and thus bald spots on cats – directly. Instead, their bite causes your cat an endless urge to lick, tug on, and chew her coat which then causes her to lose hair in some areas.

It is also possible that your furry friend is allergic to flea saliva, which would contribute to or worsen the problem. Flea allergy dermatitis manifests itself in a characteristic rash or bumps in addition to the itching – scratching and licking.

Treatment of Bald Spot on Cat Due To Parasites

Your veterinarian will diagnose the specific parasites involved and recommend an appropriate mediation. Although physical observation is usually sufficient, some tests may be deemed necessary for conclusive diagnosis.

It is important to not only treat the cat for parasites, but also their environment. In particular, you should wash your cat’s beddings and all cushion covers with hot water to get rid of flea or any other parasite’s eggs.

Ringworms

Ringworms are also associated with a bald spot on cat’s fur. Ringworm is a fungal rather than a parasitic infestation and is characterized by circular, flaky, or crusty lesions in your cat’s skin, coupled with hair thinning and loss.

Ringworm is easily spread from one cat to another through direct contact with the spores of the fungi involved. The spores have a long lifespan – as long as 2 years – which means that your cat can get infected a long time after an infected pet visited the contaminated area.

Ringworm is usually diagnosed through a skin scrapping test (swab). If confirmed, treatment involves using medicated shampoos or medications such as itraconazole or griseofulvin. The aim of treatment is to inhibit fungal growth.

Allergic Reactions

A bald itchy spot on cat’s fur may also be indicative of allergies. Like humans, cat can be allergic to certain foods, insect bites (especially fleas), plants, medicines, pollen, and dust. Exposure to a specific allergen that she is sensitive to causes your cat an itchy sensation. To calm the skin, the cat may lick her fur so much that a bald spot forms.

The neck and head are common trouble spots for food allergy-related hair loss. You may also observe other signs of symptoms of allergic reaction such as blisters, bumps, crusting and scratching of the affected area.

Eliminating the allergen is as important as treating the symptoms. Your veterinarian will carry out several tests to determine it. If food allergies is suspected, testing may be carried out over several weeks or months. A change of cat’s diet may then be recommended. For some few cases, the affected cat has to be on medication for the rest of her life.

Psychogenic Alopecia

Stress and anxiety can also make your cat lick her coat so much that the hair thins out, or even cause bald spots. Just as human beings tend to scratch their head and pull their hair when stressed or anxious, cats tend to over-groom themselves when stressed.

The term “psychogenic alopecia” is used to describe hair loss and blading caused by stress or anxiety. It is seen more commonly in “female purebreds with nervous personalities”, says the WebMD.

Cats suffering from this condition tend to excessively lick and lose hair from their stomach, legs, and sides. Possible triggers of stress and the associated compulsive behaviors e.g. excess licking include the introduction of a new cat or dog into the family and moving to a new home or room.

Treatment may involve the administration of antidepressants. Your veterinarian will advise accordingly. Changing your cat’s environment e.g. keeping dogs off, may also help. Playing with your dog more often is also helpful.

Thyroid Problem

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid glands, may also be the reason why your cat is going bald. It occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone. Other than a bald spot on cat’s fur, you are likely to notice other symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as weight loss, increasing appetite, and a rough-looking coat. Surgery is usually needed, but treatment with radioactive iodine is often effective.

Physical Trauma

A cat can also develop bald patches on the fur after engaging in fight with another cat. It is also not unheard of for a cat to lose hair around the neck as a result of an inappropriate collar.

Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease, or Cushing’s syndrome may also be the factor underlying balding in cats. It is caused by elevated levels of corticosteroids (cortisol) in the system due to use of certain medications or problems with adrenal or pituitary glands.

The disease is associated with redness, seborrhea (dandruff), and feline acne and cause the fur to get lose, and hence easily lost through licking and scratching. This often manifests in bald spots. Effective treatment of Cushing’s syndrome usually takes the removal of the adrenal glands. Gradually withdrawing from the use of corticosteroids may also be effective.

Heredity

For some cats, hair thinning and loss is tweaked into their DNA. Such cats tend to lose hair and develop bald patches on their head and on the parts of their skin that they constantly scratch against objects and people e.g. stomach.

Although any breed of cats can be affected, the problem tends to be more prominent in cats with dark coat alongside a light skin. No treatment is known for bald spots on cats with a hereditary root. On a good note though, it tends to be a temporary problem, with the hair growing back in a matter of just a few weeks.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

When it occurs, this type of skin cancer it causes bald spots along with lesions that don’t heal, usually on the head. It is caused by sun exposure and is seen more in white cats, or cats with white spots.

Other likely causes of bald spot on cats include:

  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Reaction to vaccines. A bald patch on cat in the area of skin where a vaccine was injected is often a sign of reaction to the vaccine.
  • Folliculitis (Inflammation or irritation of a hair follicle)

References

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 350 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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