Ask the Vet | Finding bald spots on your cat and what they could be

shutterstock_75076153The most common causes of bald spots I see in cats include:
Ringworm infections
Thyroid problems
Hereditary causes

Cat hair loss and bald spots may be caused by the natural seasonal shedding, but may also be caused by other diseases. Bald spots may be self inflicted, as the cat can lick and scratch its skin excessively due to different conditions. The cat bald spot diagnosis can be done by performing a few tests, but a few additional symptoms may also help detecting a possible medical condition.

External Parasites
External parasites such as fleas or mites can lead to skin lesions and itchiness which can cause hair thinning and self inflicted bald spots.
In addition, if the cat is allergic to the parasites, the bald spots may also be caused by the irritation.
The parasites can be easily identified and treated and the hair should grow back as soon as the parasites are removed.

Ringworm Infections
Ringworm is not a “worm” or parasitic infection but a fungal infection that will cause bald spots in round like lesions. The hair loss is in the shape of a ring and you may also notice flaky, crusty skin.
The infection can be detected through a skin scraping or woods lamp test and can be treated with itraconazole or griseofulvin.

Thyroid Gland Problems
The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones; if these hormones are in excess or in deficit, the hair can fall out causing bald spots.
The cat can be affected by hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, which can be detected through blood testing; there are several treatment options for thyroid gland problems in felines.

Allergic Reactions
Allergies cause irritation and itchiness and this can lead to hair loss and often bald patches.
In addition to hair loss you may also notice frequent scratching, licking, crusty skin, bumps, blisters, hot spots or dermatitis.
The allergen may be in the cat’s environment and should be detected, so it can be eliminated.
Allergies can be identified through testing; if the allergies are caused by food, several weeks or months of testing will be required.
Stress Factors
A stressful environment or certain factors that cause stress in your pet can make it chew, lick and bite his fur, causing bald spots.
The stress factor can be a new pet or family member, a new owner or even the change of the cat’s room.

Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease is a condition caused by an excess of corticosteroids in the system. The disease will manifest through skin redness, acne and seborrhea. The seborrhea can make the hairs loose and the cat can easily pull the hair out, causing bald patches.

Hereditary Causes
Cat bald patches may be caused by a rare inherited condition that causes periodical hair loss. This condition doesn’t require any treatment, as the hair will grow back in a few weeks.
Watch out for other possible causes of cat bald spots such as the administration of certain drugs or treatment (i.e. chemotherapy), pregnancy, leukemia, FIV or skin infections.

Hope this info helps
Till next week
Dr Ruan

Ask the Vet:
Royal Veterinary Centre
Tel: +853 28501099, +853 28523678
Fax: +853 28508001

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