FunNature & AnimalWhy is my cat losing hair?

Why is my cat losing hair?


When we talk about hair loss, we must differentiate between several situations. Alopecia is the total loss of hair in one area (or generalized). When we talk about hypotrichosis we refer to a lower density of hair. On the other hand, there is the normal shedding , which is the natural change of the hair along with its regeneration.

Shedding is the natural replacement of our cat’s dead hair with a new one. This molt varies depending on the temperature and the time of year. This moult is generally more abundant in spring and autumn, due to the need during these seasons for a change of coat due to the different temperatures.

Nowadays, in house cats, the molt is not usually so drastic in these seasons , but due to the constant temperature that we usually have in the houses due to the heating, it is usually more stable during the year, with some peaks in spring and autumn.

For this reason, if we see excessive shedding, we should rule out whether our cat is grooming himself correctly, increase brushing and rule out any cause why he is not grooming himself properly.

Some of the causes of this poor grooming can be, for example:

  • Obesity that does not allow you to reach certain areas
  • Joint pain , which prevents you from moving and placing yourself in those characteristic postures that you have to reach unsuspected areas to groom yourself.
  • Pain in the mouth , with which they avoid using it for something other than feeding.
  • General discomfort , which causes the cat to change its natural behaviors. In fact, one of the signs that should make us suspect that our cat has a problem is precisely the absence of grooming.

Alopecia and excessive licking

Situations of alopecia or hypotrichosis may be due to hair loss or excessive licking . Cats have spicules on their tongues. These spicules will cause a cutting effect on the hair when passing the tongue over it, which can cause breakage of the hair. We can see these breakages as areas with less hair density, or even areas devoid of hair, when cutting the hairs flush with the skin.

This excessive licking can be due to several situations such as

  • In cases such as digestive or urinary disorders that cause pain, we can see areas with less hair density in the abdomen. Cats lick these areas to try to mitigate the pain they feel.
  • Just like people scratch when there is an area that itches. Cats can scratch themselves, but they also use licking to produce that scratching effect. This itching can be due, for example, to parasites (mites, fleas, for example), to allergies (food or environmental)
  • Behavioral changes , such as psychogenic alopecia. In this case, the licking due to excessive grooming is due to a basic behavioral alteration. It is important to keep in mind that, in this case, the diagnosis is by exclusion. By ruling out the rest of the pathologies that cause alopecia, veterinarians will be able to diagnose this specific condition of the cat.

In order to differentiate whether the hair is falling out on its own or if it is the result of excessive licking by the cat, veterinarians need to do a test called a trichogram , which consists of extracting hair from the root of the affected area. Although it may seem painful, we take a few hairs without causing any pain to the cat.

This test, among other things, detects if the ends of the hair are cut , which indicates a licking by the cat. If, on the other hand, the ends are intact, it means that the hair actually falls out on its own.

In addition, this test allows us to see when the roots of the hairs are located. This helps us veterinarians to guide the problem of hair loss in one direction or another.

How long will it take for hair to grow back?

Once the specific condition is treated and resolved, the average time for the hair to become shiny again will vary between 1 and 3 months. This time will vary depending on hair length, nutrition, age, body condition, season, stress, etc. As long as the underlying problem of hair loss or excessive licking has been resolved.

So, we will have to have a little patience once the problem is solved to see our shiny cat again as before.


NEGOIŢĂ, C., et al. Trichogram-A Handle And Valuable Tool In Dermatology Practice. ScientificWorks. Series C. Veterinary Medicine. Vol. LXVII (2), 2021

Amat, M., et al 2016. Stress in owned cats: behavioral changes and welfare implications. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 18(8), 577-586.

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