Bald spots on cats back – How to treat them

Why does my cat have a bald spot on his back?

Bald spots on your cat’s back can be divided into two groups. On the one hand you have the bald spots that arise because hairs break off. But you also have bald spots that arise because the hair is no longer produced. In the first group, if you look and feel closely, there are stubble on the skin where the baldness is. But when the hairs are not produced, then those stubble are not there. The skin feels really soft. This is a big difference that you should investigate in your cat as it gives an indication of what the problem is.

What causes bald spots on your cat's back

Bald spots on your cat's back due to broken hair

As mentioned, you can make a distinction between broken hairs and ungrown hairs. In the vast majority of cases, your cat’s bald back involves excessive licking due to itching. The causes of this itching may be a flea problem or flea allergy, a food allergy, an atopic allergy (= an allergic reaction to environmental substances), or mites. But skin infections, stress or injuries can also cause your cat to lick its back excessively. However, hair can also break off naturally when the quality of hair is poor. This particularly plays a role in a fungal infection where the hair is, as it were, “eaten” by the skin fungus. They then break off easily.

Bald spots on your cat's back due to reduced hair production

Reduced hair production is caused by a problem in the hair follicles, where hair is produced. A skin fungus was mentioned above. But in addition to making the hair brittle, a skin fungus can also destroy the skin and hair follicles. In that case we no longer see new hairs developing. Hormone problems can also prevent hair production on your cat’s back. For example, cats with thyroid problems often have a thin fur on their back. Less common is Cushing’s disease in cats. However, this disease can also cause bald patches in your cat.

In addition, the body’s own cells can also accidentally attack and destroy the hair follicles, resulting in bald spots on your cat’s back. In that case we call this an autoimmune disease. With age, the hair follicles are no longer of such good quality, resulting in a balding coat on your cat’s back and in general. Finally, poor nutrition will also ensure that there are not enough building materials to produce hair. Partly for this reason, stray cats often look a bit hairless.

Cat with a bald spot on his back due to excessive grooming.

Why does my cat lick itself bald?

Cat can lick themselves excessively so they get bald spots on their back. if they start to groom themselves excessively. The cause of this may be that they are under stress and by washing themselves they try to calm themselves down. The result is that they may feel less stressed, but their back (or other body parts) may have developed bald spots.

Another reason why your cat licks itself is that he may be itchy. This can occur on his entire body, but also only on certain body parts. Below we discuss, for example, when your cat grooms the region just above its tail excessively and what could be the cause of this.

Cat losing hair on back near tail

If the baldness on your cat’s back mainly occurs near its tail and you can still see some stubble, it is very likely that your cat is licking himself bald because he is itchy. Stress can also certainly cause bald spots on his back, but in general they groom their belly more in case of stress, than they groom their back. 

If only your cat’s back, near his tail is bald or has bald spots, there is a very good chance that your cat suffers from fleas. And if you do not see the fleas on your cat, it is almost always a flea allergy. In that case, a flea bites your cat and then squirts some saliva into its skin. Your cat then reacts allergically to this saliva. It is very striking that the itching mainly manifests itself on his back near his tail. So your cat licks itself bald by its tail.

Can a cat have alopecia?

Alopecia is an expensive name for baldness. So yes, your cat can have alopecia. After all, that is what this article is about. However, you will now understand that alopecia and therefore baldness can have many different causes. It is your job to find a solution. At least if that’s necessary. Because a Sphinx cat obviously does not need a solution, but it does have a serious form of alopecia.

Baldness in this sphinx does not have to be treated.

Cat has bald spots and scabs

If there are bald spots in combination with scabs, you know that the skin itself also has been damaged. This can be caused by parasites such as mites, or by a skin fungus. But your cat may also bite itself just to get rid of the itching. Strangely enough, pain is a more manageable feeling than itching.

Can worms in cats cause hair loss?

As a result of worms, a cat can develop a nutrient deficiency, which can reduce hair production. It is therefore an indirect effect of worms that a cat can get a bald spot on his back. But your cat needs to have a lot of worms in his belly to get a bald back. So this probably isn’t the cause. 

What causes that itching on your cat's back that causes it to develop bald spots?

In this case, there are a number of possibilities that are common. Fleas, a flea allergy, mites, or other allergies. Other causes are rare in cats.

Fleas as a cause of bald spots on your cat's back

Fleas are small, bouncy, black insects that mainly live in your cat’s environment. So not on your cat itself. The majority of fleas live in their cushion or in cracks in the floor and behind your baseboards. Only a small proportion of fleas live on your cat. They only use your cat to suck blood when they want to reproduce. But the fleas that do live on your cat jump and walk over his skin, which already causes itching. And then they even bite him. So even more itching. And to stop that itch, your cat will wash and bite himself excessively, resulting in bald spots on its back.

A flea allergy is the cause of bald spots on your cat's back

In the previous case, it is mainly the movement and biting that causes your cat to itch. But with a flea allergy, your cat has an allergic reaction to the saliva that the flea bites into your cat’s skin. Very characteristic of a flea allergy is that your cat usually licks and bites his lower back. So the part of his back that is just in front of the tail. The itching is so bad that your cat usually has small scabs on his lower back due to biting himself.

Mites are the cause of bald spots on your cat's back

Mites are slightly less common than fleas, but unfortunately we still see them very often. There are several types of mites that cause bald spots on your cat’s back. For example, you have the Demodex mite that lives in the hair follicle and destroys it. In that case, no more hair is formed. But the Sarcoptes mite, which lives in the upper layers of the skin, causes itching, what makes your cat to lick excessive so that bald patches arise. Other mites can also cause itching, but the itching is much milder.

Demodex mite causes bald spots in a cat's back.
Demodex mite
Sarcoptes mite causes bald spots in a cat's back.
Sarcoptes mite

Allergic reactions as the cause of bald spots on your cat's back

If bald spots appear on your cat’s back as a result of an allergy, it is in most cases a food allergy or an atopy. The latter is an allergic reaction to environmental substances that your cat inhales, such as tree pollen, grass pollen, house dust mites, etc. A food allergy is an allergic reaction to an ingredient in its food or treats. These allergic reactions can manifest themselves as just itching, but also with skin inflammation that is partly caused by your cat scratching and biting himself, but also because your cat’s over active immune system destroys its skin and hair follicles. In both cases, bald spots may appear on your cat’s back.

Cat losing hair on back treatment

You can do different things depending on what you think is the cause. But if you have no idea, you can take the following steps one after the other in order to beat the baldness. 

Treating fleas and mites​

It is wise to pick up a mite killing agent at the counter of your vet. This product is also effective against fleas. For example, Stronghold, Bravecto, Advocate etc. all work against mites and fleas. That way you will treat mites, fleas and a flea allergy. And you probably already gave a flea treatment anyway, so this is not too big an investment. Unfortunately, the products you can buy at the pet store are not as strong as the products you buy at the vet. But you can also try if mange relief for cats help your cat. But i would advice the products at your vet. 

Increase skin resistance

When the skin is in top condition, problems are less likely to strike the skin. But if the skin resistance is not optimal, the slightest thing can cause itching or damage to the skin. And these in turn cause bald spots. That is why it is wise to increase skin resistance with essential fatty acids. Omegaderm is a very good way to improve your cat’s skin resistance. But salmon oil also works very well.

Do you or your cat not like the extra substances in his food? Then you can also give a special diet that already contains extra of these substances.

Reduce stress

If you feel like your cat may sometimes suffer from stress, it is important to address this. Of course, removing the cause of the stress is the solution. But usually an owner does not know what the cause is. In that case, you can give your cat Zylkène tablets. This medicine ensures that your cat has an increased serotonin level in his brain. This makes him feel happier and more confident. It is not an anti-depressant, but works with natural ingredients. However, it does have a similar mechanism of action as anti-depressants.

If you don’t feel like giving your cat tablets, you can also try to see if Feliway is a solution for him. You can then provide the room in which your cat spends most of its time with a Feliway diffuser in the socket. This releases a pheromone into the air in the room that gives your cat a feeling of safety and security. You should replace the Feliway every month and the room should not be excessively ventilated. If a window is always open, the concentration of Feliway in the air in the room will never be high enough for it to work properly.

Treating skin fungal infections

With a skin fungus you often see red skin, flaking coat and broken hair. Your cat may be itchy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If the bald spots on your cat’s back are small and do not cover almost the entire back, you can try whether a skin fungal ointment offers the solution. It goes without saying that you should not apply this to your entire cat.

If you believe that your cat may have a fungus, but the spots are too large, it is better to take your cat to your vet. After an examination to confirm the fungus, he or she can give your cat medication that you can give your cat in its mouth. This way you can treat the skin fungus better. In the meantime, pay attention to yourself and other housemates! Because a skin fungus can also spread to people and other pets.

Worm treatment

If you think that your cat has bald spots due to worms, it is wise to give your cat a deworming treatment. You must then repeat the deworming in 3 weeks. It is then wise to deworm your cat every 3 months.

Food allergy test

If you suspect your cat has an allergic reaction, only the food allergy test you can do yourself. The other allergies can only be examined by your veterinarian. Do you want to do the food allergy test? Then it is best to give your cat the food below. It is important that your cat gets absolutely nothing else. So no sweets or anything tasty from your refrigerator. Resist those pleading eyes! Because an allergic reaction is an all or nothing reaction. He only has to ingest a small crumb of something he is allergic to and it makes him itch for 3 weeks. And with this test it is important to find out whether it is really due to the diet or not.

Later, when you are sure that he has a food allergy, you can carefully test whether he develops skin problems from his sweets or something from the refrigerator. But during the test period you can only give the special kibble. That is the only way to find out.

After starting the diet you will probably not notice any difference for the first 4 weeks. It takes about 3 weeks for all the substances from his old diet to be removed from his body. And only then will you be able to notice recovery. So don’t give up too easily if you don’t see results. But somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks you should see that he becomes less itchy and that the bald spots on his back start to grow hair again. Is there still no difference after 8 weeks? And have you really, really, really not given anything else to your cat? Then your cat probably has an atopy and you will still have to go to your vet.

When should you go to your vet if your cat has bald spots on his back?

As soon as you are very concerned about it, it is of course wise to go to your vet. But if your cat doesn’t suffer too much and you don’t have too much stress yourself, you can try the advice given above. Doesn’t it resolve your cat’s problems or is your cat really going crazy from the itching? Then it is best to go to your vet so that further examination can be done. But 9 out of 10 cats will no longer have any problems after applying the advice given above. That will save you a trip to your vet. Your cat will be happy with that.

Good luck!

Hopefully your cat will soon have a really nice furry coat again and no more bald spots. We wish you and your cat all the luck you need!