Mysterious Bald Patches

Cat on the attack

What could be causing mysterious bald patches on this visitor's new kitten.

Kitten has Mysterious Bald Patches

Hello!

We adopted an eleven-month-old female cat, Maddie, from the humane society in May. We already have a shy two-year-old female cat, Sassy, and we thought "two is better than one".

After a few days of hissing at each other, they seemed to be getting along very well. However, last week we noticed scabs on Maddie's head, and patches of missing hair on her side and bloody inner thigh.

We trimmed both cats' nails, and treated the injuries with triple antibiotic cream. Today there is another missing patch of hair on Maddie's leg, and it's bloody again. These injuries don't seem to bother her, but they really worry us as we have never seen or heard the cats fight.

They are only left alone together for three to four hours at a time. While we are home they get along just fine. They will chase each other around the house like young cats do, and play on their three-story condo.

Do you think Sassy, the older cat, is attacking Maddie, the new cat, or do you think it is something else? If Sassy is attacking Maddie, what can we do to stop this?

Thanks! Shnaynay in VT

Expert Reply

Hi Shnaynay,

Kids often behave better in front of their parents than they do behind their backs. If you happen to have a video cam, you can try playing detective to find out exactly what is going on.

If you can, confine the cats to one room with their condo. Set up your camera to give you as much of a view of the entire room as possible, turn it on and leave them alone. Your absence may trigger the cats into action, and then you may be able to see if Sassy is truly getting rough with Maddie, or if Maddie is mutilating herself.

If Maddie is the culprit, she'll need a trip to the vet to determine why she is pulling her hair out. A variety of parasites, allergies and psychological problems can cause hair loss.

If Sassy is the culprit, you're actually going to have a harder time curbing the behavior. Are both cats spayed? If not, I'd get that taken care of first to see if the cats calm down without the extra hormones to make them feel territorial. If that doesn't work, you may need to house them in separate areas of your home during the hours you are away. When you're home you can let them out together when you can monitor their behavior.

I hope you can work the situation out.

~~ Kelly

Malnourished Kitten Missing Fur

I picked up a stray kitten that was starved. She was very skinny and could hardly meow. It's been about six weeks and she is doing well. She had patches of hair loss behind her ears and on top of her head. The skin was a white, dry and raised, but didn't seem to bother her or itch. The fur is growing back white, and she has white hair growing in throughout her gray coat. I was wondering if this was from malnourishment and or if it is serious. Any ideas what this might be?

~~Dana

Expert Reply

Hi, Dana,

Since she was a stray, the hair loss could be from any number of factors. Hair loss can be caused by:

  • Disease
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Fleas and pests

More than likely, her hair loss was a result of her diet and possibly fleas. You don't mention if the skin has improved but it sounds like the fur is growing back, so that is a good sign. I would keep a close eye on her. If you notice she is licking or scratching the dry patches, then take her to the vet and ask him to examine her and prescribe treatment. It sounds like she is going to have a beautiful coat again soon, though.

~~Lori

Older Cat Losing Fur

I have a neutered, long-haired cat that is sixteen and a half years old. He has had excessive diarrhea for the past six months and is on ID food, Endosorb and a thyroid medicine for the rest of his life. He has had a complete set of blood work done that revealed a thyroid problem. He has now lost most of his hair. The underside of his tail and his hind legs are bare, and he is starting to lose all fur from his neck through this stomach. The hair there has an oily look and a little smell. Do you have any idea what it could be?

~~Karen

Expert Reply

Hi Karen,

Many of the symptoms you are describing are related to thyroid disorders. Has your vet checked his blood levels since starting medication? It is possible that his dosage needs to be adjusted.

One thing I have noticed in my cats over the years is that as they get elderly, they do start to have a lot of fur problems. You are already doing some of the most important things that would help, such as feeding better food. I would also brush him regularly. Most cats need to be brushed a few times a week, but as your cat ages, you may have to help with grooming needs. I would invest in some pet wipes and brush him every day since he has long hair. This may also help stimulate his hair growth in the areas where he's lost his fur. Be sure to use a brush that doesn't have scratchy bristles.

Still, I would definitely have the vet do some more blood work. Your cat should not have diarrhea all the time. That is bad for his electrolyte balance, and he'll likely lose a lot of weight. I hope your cat feels better soon.

~~Lori

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Mysterious Bald Patches