Why Do Cats Pull Their Hair Out in Chunks?

Updated November 21, 2016

Cats naturally shed some of their fur, especially in autumn or winter, which usually is no need for concern. If the hair loss is excessive or if the cat is pulling out clumps of fur, however, there may be underlying causes. If the owner notices bald patches on the cat, further investigation also should be carried out.

Cat Health Problems

If a cat develops bald patches, it might be suffering from a hormonal problem, an immune problem or may be allergic to something in the environment, including its diet. The most likely physical reason, however, is that the cat has a parasitic infection caused by cat fleas. In any case, the cat should be seen by a veterinarian.

Cat Fleas

Most cats get fleas at some time or other if they go outside. Fleas are difficult to see, but the owner may notice the cat scratching excessively, sometimes even to the point of bleeding. When kittens get fleas, this can actually be dangerous, as the flea is a parasite, which sucks the cat's blood. In a small kitten or vulnerable cat, this can cause feline anaemia.


Though difficult to see, sometimes clusters of dark debris can be seen along the backbone, indicating fleas. Fleas should be treated, preferably by a preparation from the vet. All cats should be treated, as should other animals in the house. The environment should also be treated, as fleas infest chairs, cushions and other soft furnishings.

Other Causes

If health problems are eliminated, excessive fur pulling may have another cause. This is often stress. If the stress is of short duration--perhaps the owner going on holiday--the problem should resolve itself when the owner comes back. However, like nail-biting in humans, the cat can develop a habit. House cats can become bored, and this might exacerbate the habit. Attention and time should be given to the cat, and toys should be used to alleviate boredom.

Other Stresses

The most common cause of stress in a cat is the presence of another cat in the area. The other cat urinates, the cat smells thi, and suffers stress as a result. Various measures can be taken to discourage the visiting cat without injuring it, including water sprinklers and scent repellents. It is claimed that the smell of some garden plants, such as lavender, also discourages visiting cats.

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About the Author

Noreen Wainwright has been writing since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The Daily Telegraph," "The Guardian," "The Countryman" and "The Lady." She has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Liverpool Polytechnic and a postgraduate law degree from Staffordshire University.