What Causes Hair Loss on a Cat's Back and Tail?

Updated November 21, 2016

One of the best things about having a cat is stroking its warm, soft fur. Your cat thinks so, too. So hair loss on a cat's back and tail can be extremely disconcerting for both pet owner and pet. There are several reasons a cat might lose hair but once you have pinpointed the source of the problem you may be able to treat your cat's hair loss.

Food Allergy

Just like people, cats can develop food allergies at any point during their lives. If your cat has started losing hair on her back and tail, check the rest of her body to see if she is thinning anywhere else. The most common effect of a food allergy is itching, which leads to compulsive licking of the itchy area and ultimately hair loss. If your cat has a food allergy you may find other problem areas on her coat or you might notice excessive licking.

Food allergies are usually a result of sensitivities to certain proteins. Work with your veterinarian to develop a new diet for your cat consisting of new protein sources. If a food allergy is the source of the hair loss, you will soon notice your cat scratching and licking less and that her hair is growing back.


There are several different types of mange that cats can acquire. One sign all types exhibit is red, scaly, irritated skin under that thinning hair. If you notice these symptoms, take your cat to a veterinarian for a scrape test for mange. Most types of mange can be treated with a round of prescription medication and once the infection is gone hair will start to grow back.

Flea Allergy

Many cats are allergic to fleas and bites can become such an itchy, painful problem that a cat will lick away fur and even skin attacking the problem. Since fleas tend to inhabit areas like the inner thighs, a flea allergy is not likely to manifest itself in hair loss on the back and tail. However, you should investigate this possibility if your cat loses hair without apparent cause.

Psychogenic Alopecia

Cats are creatures of habit and routine and they do not handle stress well. If a cat is moved to a different environment, loses a well-recognised or loved cohort or has another major change introduced to their world, they may react to the stress by grooming to excess. Such grooming often leads to hair loss on the back and tail. You will need to identify and eliminate the cause of stress. If that is not possible, you will have to find a way to help your cat adjust to the new situation so the excessive grooming will stop.

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