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Rebecca
Rebecca, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14363
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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my cat is losing hair on his back and on his back legs, what

Resolved Question:

my cat is losing hair on his back and on his back legs, what might cause this, and how can it be treated?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 5 years ago.

Rebeccavet :

Hi JACustomer,

Rebeccavet :

Sorry to hear about Bob.

Rebeccavet :

If you look closely, is there some short broken hairs on the backs of his legs, or are the area completely bald and smooth?

Rebeccavet :

If the hair is falling out, and the skin is hairless and smooth, this could be a hormone problem, which is rather rare but happens.

Rebeccavet :

If there are short broken hairs, then the hair is probably being lost from excessive grooming.

Customer:

his hair is actually getting very thin, and the skin in these areas is very rough

Rebeccavet :

If the skin is rough, then eighter this is due to excessive grooming, or he has some skin problem like an infection.

Rebeccavet :

Without being able to see and examine him, it is hard to say for sure.

Rebeccavet :

You could try applying a soothing ointment to the area, like BioBalm. You have to keep him from licking for several minutes after applying the ointment.

Customer:

well bob was never an over groomer, I was told it might me mange

Rebeccavet :

Sometimes cats groom excessively at this area of the body. Usually they do it when no one is watching. It can be a reaction to stress, or to pain somewhere (anal glands, lower back, spine).

Rebeccavet :

Mange is a possibility, but it would be unusual to be limited to just the backs of the legs.

Rebeccavet :

And mange in cats is fairly rare. Mange is caused by microscopic parasites.

Rebeccavet :

A flea allergy could also cause this.

Customer:

I 've checked him for fleas already, and haven't found any yet

Rebeccavet :

Well, when cats have flea allergy and are sensitive to flea saliva, it only takes one or two fleas to cause the reaction. SInce cats are good groomers, they often groom and swallow the flea. So it is very common for cats to have hair loss from a flea bite allergy even though you can't find any fleas. Still a possibility.

Customer:

but I have two other cats, and I've checked them all, with no signs of flea bites or flea scat on any of them, and with my persian, I would think it would be fairly easy to find remnants of fleas on him, he's not the greatest at cleaning himself

Rebeccavet :

So this could really be due to a lot of things. If I were seeing Bob as a patient, I would look at some skin cells and hair follicles under the microsope to look for mites.

Customer:

is there a description of what these mites look like?

Rebeccavet :

The other cats may just not allergic to fleas. But a flea allergy is really only one of the many possibilities: hormone imbalance, mites, allergy to something besides fleas, anal gland impaction, pain in his back or knees. These are the things I would check him for if I were seeing him as a patient.

Rebeccavet :

You can't see them without a microscope. They are way too small.

Customer:

I have one, i was just wondering, it's not the greatest microscope, but works for most things

Rebeccavet :

They have 8 legs. One species has a round globular body, one type has a body like a cigar, and others species of mites look like miniature ticks (Ticks also have 8 legs). But you cannot see mites with the naked eye no matter how good your eyes are.

Rebeccavet :

You have to take a scraping of the skin deep enough to get some hair follicles to see under the microscope. Even with a microscope, it takes some training to get the proper samples and to see the mites.

Rebeccavet :

And mites (mange) is really uncommon in cats.

Customer:

I'll make an appointment for him tomorrow, are any of these possibly life threatening/

Rebeccavet :

A fungal infection called "ringworm" is another possibility.

Rebeccavet :

None are life threatening.

Rebeccavet :

Do you have any more questions I can answer?

Customer:

I've seen the ringworm before, it usually doesn't affect this large of an area, it goes from about 3 inches in front of his tail, within an inch of his spine on either side, down to his tail, and down the back of what you could say would bne his thighs, and rings his tail for a couple inches

Rebeccavet :

I would sure check his anal glands with a distribution like that.

Rebeccavet :

And while I was checking them, check for lumbosacral pain, and his knees. He is a little young for arthritis, especially if he is not overweight.

Rebeccavet :

There really are a lot of possibilities

Customer:

he's a big cat, but I wouldn't consider him over weight

Rebeccavet :

Well, I would check for everything if I were seeing him. Bigger cats are more likely to have arthritis than little ones.

Customer:

I'll do that

Rebeccavet :

Great. Hope you get some answers.

Customer:

I'll let my vet know

Customer:

thank you

Rebeccavet :

Great place to start.

Rebeccavet :

You are welcome.

Rebeccavet :

Anything else I can answer?

Customer:

not that i can think of

Rebeccavet :

If you do, please ask.

Customer:

i will

Rebeccavet :

If not, please consider accepting so the website credits me.

Customer:

thank you again

Rebeccavet :

Good night and my best regards XXXXX XXXXX

Rebeccavet :

You are welcome.

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