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Cat losing clumps of fur

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic tabby
Age: 8-11 years
Our beloved 9 yo old male cat Gretzkey is ripping his hair out in clumps. Our house is full of furball tumbleweeds and fat ones too! It has been going on for months. At first I thought it was just a natural shedding but it has become epic. He eats fine, isn't listless and his stools are solid.
On his patches, he is ripping out, I have looked at them closely and there is no raw, exposed scabs but on one there is a yellowish tint to a bumpy skin abrasion. But only on that one. No oozing of any sort.
He is still very affectionate and playful for his age.
What's the matter with my darling cat?

Oh, all of the hair is being ripped out on his sides between his hinds and lower stomach.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I love your cat's name. :) Sorry to hear that he is losing his fur though!

While I won't be able to tell you for certain what is happening I can definitely give you a few ideas.

While it can be very normal for a cat to shed, it shouldn't be causing him to have bald patches. There likely is some sort of medical issue going on.

First of all, is he on some type of prescription flea prevention? Even if you don't see fleas, this is the first thing that I look at when I have a cat who is having a skin condition. With that being said, though, usually cats with fleas will be most itchy over the top of their back by their tail...so this is probably not his problem (but still a possibility).

If you are seeing some type of mild lesions (the yellow tint and bumpy skin) it's definitely possible that there is some type of infection present. It could be a bacterial skin infection.

It's also very possible that this is ringworm. Ringworm isn't actually a worm, but is a fungal infection. It can be difficult to treat sometimes.

Does he have matts in his fur? If a cat has matts, often they will work and work at the matts until they manage to rip them out. Then, you will see bald spots left behind.

Some cats can overgroom like this because of "stress". It's often hard to know what the source of stress is. Given that he is 9 and just starting to do this, I don't think this is the cause.

An allergy can cause these symptoms, but the locations that you mentioned being affected are not typical for allergy.

And finally, sometimes cats can lose a lot of fur if there is an underlying medical issue. If the body is stressed by dealing with a medical problem then the coat will suffer.

I would definitely recommend having your boy see a veterinarian. They may be able to tell what is going on just by looking at him, or they may have to do some tests such as a fungal culture for ringworm.

I hope he feels better soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

We love the NY Rangers, so hence the name. Yes, he has been on flea and tick meds - Frontline Plus for years. No matts in his fur, just clumps of hair. Isn't ring worm contagious to humans also?
I agree, to the Vet we go!
Thanks for your help.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

If it is ringworm, then yes, it can be contagious to humans for sure.

Hope everything works out ok.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.