Hair loss in cats can have many causes. Tests that veterinarians perform to help identify a potential cause include skin scrapings, scotch tape impressions, fungal culture, skin biopsy, and general health tests to check for chronic diseases (such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)), complete blood count, and organ and hormone function tests.
Your veterinarian may also inquire about your cat’s home environment. Sometimes a stressed cat will over-groom areas of its fur coat. Changes in household routine can trigger increased stress and the cat my respond with excessive licking and chewing as a compulsive activity. Rarely, certain breeds are prone to inherited alopecia (hair loss) syndromes.
Treating Hair Loss in Cats
Treatment will depend on the result of the patient evaluation. If the skin has itchiness, pain, redness or oozing, other supportive care may be prescribed on a symptomatic basis. If allergies are suspected, changes in diet, household routine, and anti-inflammatory medications may be required. Sometimes laundry detergent perfumes that the cat bed is washed in, the perfumes in litter, and other household contact chemicals may be the inciting agent. Food allergies can also trigger itchy skin.
It is unusual to be able to make diagnoses of skin conditions without a full evaluation. Many different problems can all appear on the surface with the same symptoms, so professional consultation is essential.