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Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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my cat is losing his fur on one of his back legs. it is coming

Customer Question

my cat is losing his fur on one of his back legs. it is coming out in clumps. he also seems to have gained some weight pretty quickly. please help! we have scheduled a vet appt. already. thank you!!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Hi thereCustomer

Welcome to Just Answer! I'm sorry you have had such a long wait to get a response to this important question. It is 7:05am here in Ontario, and I just logged on and saw your question and have responded right away.

I would like to help you and your cat but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

When did this start with the hair coming off his leg?

In the area that he is losing hair, is the skin smooth and soft, or bumpy and scaley?

Any open ulcerated area?

What part of the back leg is losing the hair - the inside, near his belly, or the back of it (that you would only see if he were standing up and you were directly behind him)?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thanks Fiona!

i noticed it in the last probably 3 days. no open ulcerated area. it is smooth but a little flaky in the problem area. It is the on the upper outside part of the leg. if you were standing behind him you would be able to see a little, but you would need to looking at him from the side to see most of it. it starts right above the knee.

thank you again!

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
You're welcome!

Hmm.... and do you see him licking at this area a lot?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no not at all! he doesn't pay attention to it in any way. he acts completely normal (happy, playful); it just looks weird.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
How odd!

What sort of size is it?

Does he go outside?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
it is about 3 inches by 1 inch. and then there is a little patch at the base of his tail.

he used to go outside but for the past few months, hasn't been allowed to go out for more than a couple minutes at a time, while i'm watching him. we did go out once last week though.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
I see...

Could you please scratch him at the base of his tail and feel there for any little scabs on his skin?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
nope. no scabs.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

When you scratched at the base of his tail, does he turn and make chewing motions with his mouth, or licking?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
nope but he was very sleepy. i woke him up. he was purring. but maybe i should clarify, the tail one, it is actually on his tail, not his body. but it is near the base. on the same side as the leg one, but they are not connected.

thanks for being thorough.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
No problem... just trying to figure this out!

Do you have other pets in the home?

When you gently tug on the hair around the bald areas, does it come out easily? In tufts?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no other pets in the house, but new people did just move in (there were only 2 of us, now there are five). it comes out when i tug. in tufts.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

When did the new people move in? (I'm not suggesting they gave this to your cat, just thinking that it might have stressed him)?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
last week. that thought crossed my mind too, but he seems so happy.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Even things that make us happy can be stressful (Christmas comes to mind as a recent example!). All change is stressful!

Ok, I think I have an idea what might be going on with your boy. I just need a few minutes to write up a detailed answer and then I will be right back...

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you so much. you rock!!!! : )
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Oh, forgot to ask - is your boy long haired or short?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
medium. and soft. like a bunny.

do you think that whatever is causing this is also causing the weight gain?
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Nooo... I can't see how they would be related...

What does he eat?
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
I am in the middle of your answer but my kids just got up and I need to get them some breakfast, so I am going to have to step away for 15min or so.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no sweat
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Ok - back from taking my daughter to school (my husband usually does but he woke up feeling very ill)...

working on your answer
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
Hi again,

You have described to me a 2 yr old cat who has areas of hair loss on his tail and on his back leg. There are no scabs or evidence of inflammation on the skin, but it does seem a bit flaky. The hair epilates (pulls out) easily in tufts at the edges of the lesions. There has been recent change and stress in his world.

There are a number of things that I would be considering if he were on his way in to see me.

1.      Fungal infection (ringworm)

Cats may have hair loss caused by fungal infections. In cats, this is usually be a fungus called Microsporum canis   (not Tinea sp. which causes athletes foot in humans), ,which cats can carry on their hair without any symptoms. What we see are focal circular to patchy areas of hair loss with slight flakiness and little inflammation, as you have described. Lesions tend to predominate on head and forelimbs and itchiness is usually mild.

We diagnose this by using a special ultraviolet light called a Wood’s lamp to show infected hairs, and by doing a fungal culture using a dermatophyte test medium (DTM, Fungassay) kit. Your vet would be able to do this. It can take up to 3 weeks to get results.

Your kitty could have picked this up from the environment (in the house or outdoors) or had it on his hair without symptoms, but suddenly it caused a problem because his immune system was lowered due to stress.

It is treated with a drug called itraconazole, and/or shaving and bathing in lime-sulfur dips or medicated shampoos available from your vet.

This is contagious to other animals and to humans!

Here is more information:

2.      Eosinophilic Granulomatous complex

This is an allergic skin condition, and it is usually very very itchy. Cats with this problem may develop areas of hair loss, and ulcerated skin. With your boy, the fact that the hair loss is linear (straight line) not circular is what makes me wonder about this. However, it usually has very inflamed skin and is itchy, which you are not describing.

There are 3 forms of this allergic condition:

1. Cats may get linear (straight line) lesions on the backs of their backs legs, face and neck, inside the mouth or between the footpads, or
2. They may get lesions (plaques) on the insides of their back legs and on their bellies, or
3. They may get ulcers on the lip margins and around the mouth (also called an indolent ulcer or rodent ulcer).

Here are some links to further information about this condition:

3.      Trauma

It is possible that your cat got stuck somewhere and pulled this hair off when he was wriggling out. Maybe there is a spot that he used to fit in with ease, and no longer does? I only mention this because I have seen it with cats wedged under fences outside. Usually, there would be some scratches on the skin.

4.      Demodex

This is a type of mange mite that is quite common in dogs, but rare in cats. It causes areas of hair loss, though they are more commonly around the head. It is diagnosed by doing a skin scraping (the vet scrapes the skin surface lightly with a dull scalpel blade and looks at the sample under a microscope). Again, this is something that the cat could have been carrying on his fur, and become susceptible when his immune system was lowered due to stress.

It is treated with Lime Sulfur dips once weekly for 6 dips or until resolved.

More here:

As you can see, there are a number of different things that could be causing this hair loss in patches on your cat. The top thing I would be wondering about would be Ringworm (dermatophytosis) from your description. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose what is going on by doing a thorough physical exam and some tests. I hope that your kitty is back to 100% soon!

I hope that helps you.

If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.


Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience: 16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
Dr.Fiona and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you so much fiona!! have a great day.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.
You are very welcome! Thank YOU for the bonus - much appreciated! :-)

Please could you update me after you see your vet to let me know what he or she thinks. I really do like to hear how animals that I "meet" on here are doing!

Of course, there is no charge for this. You can reply to this at any time - days, weeks, months, or even years later!
Best wishes,

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