If your cat has been losing hair around their neck, you might be ready to tear out your hair trying to find answers. (This question came up over on Facebook.) There are a lot of different reasons cats might be losing hair around their necks, which range in degrees of seriousness. Here are some possible causes to investigate:
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Why is My Cat Losing Hair Around Their Neck?
- An irritating collar
- Diet (dry cat food)
- Food allergies (many purebreds are allergic to chicken, grains, and sometimes fish)
- A particularly bad pollen season can cause seasonal allergies
- An allergic reaction to a new detergent, perfume, candle, etc.
- An allergic reaction to a toxic air freshener
- Flea allergies
- Flea medicine irritating the back of the neck
- A reaction to a drug
- Hormonal imbalance or glandular problems
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Mange – caused by a cluster of ear or skin mites
- Pemphigus foliaceus – an autoimmune disease that manifests hair loss and skin irritation
If your cat is losing their hair, here are a few possible cat hair loss treatments to try:
- Put apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball and dab it on the itchy spot.
- Make sure they are on flea control - try to avoid topicals with neurotoxins in them. Go a more natural route, or confirm they have fleas in the first place.
- Immunotherapy for allergies.
- Give them colloidal silver or put it on them.
- Stay on your vet to run allergy tests. Your vet might recommend special shampoo, steroids, and a shot of Prednisone, Atopica, or Apoquel.
- Get a biopsy to rule out more severe cat health problems.
- Change diets
- Switch to wet food (or at least a 50/50) diet.
- Try a novel protein diet, like a rabbit.
- If you try different diets, your cat will need to be on a diet for at least a month to determine whether or not they are allergic to it.
Try basic solutions like checking on their collar or changing their diet first, but if the hair loss doesn’t go away, the best thing to do is to talk to your vet and see what tests or treatments they recommend.
Defining cat hair loss
Cat hair loss doesn’t always look the same. It might develop as bald patches across your cat’s body, an area of hair loss, patchy fur, or even just fur that is generally thinning. There could be various reasons for your cat losing fur, not just around its neck but elsewhere too.
These are suggestions for some possible causes, but you should always seek proper medical advice if you are worried about your cat’s hair loss.
- Cancer in Cats
Some forms of cancer in cats can cause hair follicles to die. One of these is Neoplasia. It’s not very common, but other symptoms can include abnormal swellings, weight loss, sores, and a loss of appetite. If your cat is losing hair and has any other symptoms, book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Endocrine Disorders
A disorder of the endocrine system can cause feline alopecia. For example, if your cat has symmetrical hair loss on its body without any rash, and you’ve seen no signs of trauma or your cat grooming too much, it may be a form of alopecia caused by an endocrine disorder or thyroid imbalance.
Various infections can sometimes cause hair loss in cats, whether caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites. They may cause a cat to itch, which can cause over-grooming, or the infection may be the direct cause of hair loss.
Allergies are one of the most common causes of hair loss. They can be caused by all allergens and will often prompt your cat to lick the itching areas until bald spots appear. If you spot your cat showing abnormal behavior and grooming themselves to the point of baldness, you should get them tested to see if an allergic reaction is a cause.
Some cats are allergic to flea saliva. So if the cat has fleas, the pest’s saliva may irritate and itch the skin, even more, causing felines to overgroom to the extent that fur begins to fall out.
Feline ringworm, despite the name, is a fungal infection and one of the most common skin infections in cats that can cause hair to fall out if left untreated. While it can sometimes resolve itself, it may take up to a year or more and cause repeated hair loss and crusty skin or scabs. If you suspect ringworm, then speak to a health professional to get it treated for the comfort of your cat.
- Notoedric Mange
Also known as Feline Scabies, this is a highly contagious skin infection caused by a parasite. It can trigger skin problems, including dry lesions, and cause alopecia. It can progress to the point of causing skin loss if it is not diagnosed and treated.
Pyoderma is a skin infection that can affect dogs and cats. There can be several causes that allow the skin’s natural defenses to break, which allows bacteria to develop. Common symptoms along with hair loss include oozing sores, crusts, a rash, and a foul odor.
- Cushing’s Disease
Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, this is an uncommon disease that tends to affect dogs more than cats. It causes the skin to become fragile, which can lead to wounds developing and hair loss in patches. It can also cause your cat to feel weak or excessively thirsty.
Diagnosis of Cat Alopecia
Because there are so many potential causes of cat alopecia, your veterinarian will start by looking at the hair loss characteristics. Is it even or patchy? Where on the body is the cat losing hair, and are there any apparent skin issues?
They will look for fleas or signs of fleas having recently lived on your cat and then begin to check other symptoms. They may take a skin biopsy or culture to determine the cause if it is not immediately apparent.
How to Spot an Issue
When you notice your cat behaving out of the ordinary, you should monitor them and note any changes to their mood, activity levels, or appetite, as these can all help a veterinarian diagnose.
One of the most common signs is your cat over-grooming. If they are spending more time licking or rubbing an area, then check it to see if the fur is still healthy or if it is looking like it is thinning.
The treatment for cat hair loss will depend on the root cause. It might be something simple, like swapping a collar or removing an allergen from their diet, or it could be an effective flea treatment, along with related products, to help kill fleas on surfaces in your home.
If it’s caused by skin disorders, hyperthyroidism, or an infection, then medication will be prescribed to help manage it. And in the rare cases that it’s a symptom of a severe illness, your veterinarian will advise on the treatment plan.
Healthy diet, healthy fur, healthy kitty
If your cat isn’t losing clumps of hair but generally has a poor-quality coat, you may need to address their diet. A healthy cat diet is essential for maintaining healthy fur and is a good indication of your cat’s general health.
Your cat needs the right balance of protein and nutrients. Speak to your veterinarian if you think they may have a diet problem, and if you change their diet, make sure you give it at least a month to see the effect.
Why is my cat losing hair?
There are many potential causes of a cat losing hair, whether it’s an allergy to dust or food, a ringworm infection, abnormal hormone levels, fleas, or even just irritation from a collar. In some cases, it can also be caused by more severe conditions.
Why is my cat’s fur falling out from the ears?
If you’re wondering why your cat’s hair is falling out from around, in front of, or on their ears, there could be several causes. For example, some ear mites could cause hair loss and redness, while fleas, ringworm, or mange may be another cause.
Will hair grow back?
It will grow back for many of the common causes of cat hair loss, provided the issue is treated correctly. Some conditions can permanently kill hair follicles, but these aren’t as common.
How is alopecia treated?
The treatment for alopecia varies depending on the cause. Some forms of cat alopecia that are congenital or hereditary may not be treatable. Others may involve a cream to reduce skin irritation or medications to remove an infection.
What can your vet do to help?
Your vet will be able to identify the cause of your cat’s hair loss and recommend a treatment plan or help you to work out what may be causing hair loss if it’s an allergen in your home. They might also identify cat anxiety.
If your cat is anxious and overgrooming, your vet can help you work out what could be causing this behavior and how you can help your cat feel more relaxed.
What do bald patches on cats look like?
Bald patches can take any shape and may be symmetrical on your cat, depending on the cause. Often, they are in streaks where your cat has been licking too aggressively. You might also spot thinning patches instead of completely bald ones. When grooming your cat, keep looking for any irregularity in the coat.
What to do about hair loss in cats around the neck?
There could be many reasons why your cat is losing hair around their neck, it could be something relatively minor, like irritation from its collar, or it could be a reaction to its diet. In some instances, it may be a sign of a more severe illness.
What to do will vary based on the problem - so if it's your cat's collar, for example, try switching to a different one.
Or if your cat has fleas, that could be the problem too. If their diet has changed, then speak to your veterinarian, and change it back to see if the issues with hair loss persist. Of course, you should always seek medical advice if you have concerns about cat hair loss, so you should make an appointment with your veterinarian if you aren't sure of the cause.
Have you ever dealt with hair loss in cats around the neck? What was the cause? What treatments did you use? Share here!