Loss of Small Tuffs of Hair
by Cindy Martin
Reader Question: Caring for an Outdoor Cat with Skin and Hair Loss Issue
My cat is an adult Tabby, male that was dropped off at my house last fall. I believe previously he was an indoor cat. We don't allow him in the house due to my husband's asthma and severe allergy to cats. He sleeps on a warming blanket on the back deck. I recently treated him for fleas but have not seen any fleas before or after treatment. The hair loss is small tuffs that leaves a raw spot when it falls off. Before coming loose, the hair feels matted or stiff. This has been going on ever since I got him. He doesn't scratch or groom himself excessively. He sneezes on occasion, again, not excessive. My cat sleeps most of the day. I am unsure how much exercise he gets at night. His appetite is good, although he eats less than a month ago. Recently he has limped on the front right paw. The only other health history I am aware of was a cold in November. He recovered after ~ a week. This morning I discovered a sore on the back right paw. Any ideas or suggestions are appreciated!
Editor Suggestions Cat Raw Skin Spots and Small Tufts of Hair Falling Out
Thank you for reaching out and providing these images. It's clear you care deeply for your cat. Based on your description and the photos, it appears your Tabby may be experiencing a type of skin condition. The raw spots and tufts of hair falling out, combined with the matting or stiffness prior to the hair loss, might suggest a few possibilities:
Dermatitis: This can be caused by allergies, which could be environmental since he's now living outside. Allergies can also develop to food
or other outdoor irritants.
Ringworm: This is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss in circular patches, but is usually associated with excessive grooming.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Even if you've treated for fleas and haven't seen any, he could be allergic to flea bites. A single bite can cause a reaction in sensitive cats.
Stress: Although you mention he's not grooming excessively, the change from being an indoor cat to living outside could be stressful, leading to skin issues.
For the sore on the paw and the limping, this could be from an injury, a bite or scratch from another animal, or even a foreign body that might be embedded in the paw.
Here are my suggestions:
Veterinary Check-Up: It's important to get him examined by a vet. They can do a skin scraping to check for mites, fungal elements for ringworm, or other skin conditions.
Diet: Ensure he's on a high-quality diet that supports skin health. Sometimes omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help with skin conditions.
Comfort: Since he's an outdoor cat now, make sure his sleeping area is clean, dry, and protected from the elements.
Observation: Keep an eye on how often he grooms the affected areas and whether he's limping consistently.
In the meantime, keep the areas clean. You can use a mild antiseptic wash to clean the sores on the paw, but avoid any home remedies until a vet has had a look.
Your love and attention are already making a big difference. Keep me posted on what the vet says, and give your Tabby a gentle pet from me.
Editor and Publisher
Cat Health Guide
Please note: This information is intended to complement, not replace, the advice of your pet's veterinarian. Always consult a vet for professional medical advice about your pet's health.