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Note for Pet Owners

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.


Hair loss (alopecia) is a common sign in cats.

Hair loss (alopecia) is often very distressing for owners because of the unsightly appearance of their pet. It can also be extremely frustrating to treat - depending upon the underlying cause.

Cat with severe generalised hair loss

There are many different causes of hair loss in cats, and there are three main types (if you want to find out more click on the blue underlined words):

  • Congenital / hereditary
  • Acquired - develops during the life of the animal
  • Secondary to another disease process
    • Skin infections (eg ringworm - a fungal infection) - typical circular patches of hair loss - diagnosed by taking hair samples
    • Self-inflicted injury (eg allergy, parasites) - must treat underlying cause to stop self-trauma

Differentiating between the different causes of hair loss can be difficult and your veterinarian may need to perform a series of skin and other tests to determine the cause. This is important because treatment will vary greatly from one case to another.

For some of these diseases specific treatment is available for others there is no treatment.

Drugs used to treat hair loss (eg hormonal preparations) may have secondary side-effects which are unacceptable. In such cases it has to be decided if the appearance of the cat warrants long term therapy.

Cats with inherited forms of disease should not be used for breeding.

Last updated : September 2013