My cat's skin is red scabby & losing hair

Updated February 21, 2017

Similar to humans, hair loss in cats is also referred to as alopecia. Alopecia in cats is occasionally accompanied by inflamed, red, scabby spots on the skin, typically within the hair loss region. While any of these symptoms are cause for concern, some are more serious than others. Hair loss and red scabby patches are typically caused by over-grooming as a result of the cat licking and breaking the hair, or scratching and breaking the skin in the affected area.


Anytime you discover a cat with hair loss or red, scabby skin that is inflamed, the cat is both visibly and physically uncomfortable. It is important to contact your veterinarian and have your cat examined right away. A vet will ensure that you get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment for your feline friend. The vet will perform a series of tests to determine the problem, which may include blood or urine sample, biopsy, scraping the cat's skin or examining it under a special light.


Fleas are the most common cause of alopecia and are accompanied by red scabby skin in felines. These symptoms are typically seen at the base of the cat's tail. Some cats are allergic to the saliva of the fleas, which results in small scabby red bumps and hair loss in the affected area. These symptoms are also accompanied by severe itching. In some cases, the cat's continual scratching will lead to a bacterial infection. Regardless of whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, it can still experience these symptoms as a result of fleas. It is important to protect your cat with monthly flea prevention. If fleas are present, your cat and your home will need to be treated. Antibiotics may also be needed if a bacterial infection is present.


Some cats have allergies. They may be allergic to anything, from their brand of food to dust, mould or pollen. The skin will appear red and inflamed. There may be scabby areas and hair loss due to excessive scratching. Luckily, your vet will be able to test your cat to pinpoint the cause of the allergy. Cat allergies are treated with antihistamines, steroids or allergy shots.

Ringworm and Other Fungus

A fungal infection may be the cause of your cat's alopecia and the red, scabby skin. Ringworm will appear in a ring on the skin. The ring itself will be red, scabby and inflamed with a white colour near the centre. This is also accompanied by alopecia.

Other fungal infections could also be the cause. Anytime your cat comes in contact with fungal spores, it runs the risk of getting a fungal infection. Other signs of fungal infection include fragile-looking skin with areas of hair loss and redness. The scabs may also have a grey or white appearance, with a sheen that makes them appear wet. Itching may or may not be present with fungal infections in cats. Fungal infections in cats are treated with both oral and topical medications.

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