Why Do Cats Pull Out Their Fur (And How To Stop It)

The answer to why do cats pull out their fur is a complex one. If you’re a cat parent and suddenly find your precious fur ball has bald spots, it’s very upsetting. You feel somehow it’s your fault, even though it’s not.

In truth there are a number of reasons why cats pull out hair and in this post you’ll discover some of the more common as well as unusual ones. We’ll also look at effective ways to stop fur pulling, and which ones are best for your cat.

Does your cat have obsessive compulsive disorder?

Just as humans develop obsessive behaviour so do cats. Stress can make some people pull their hair out, and it’s possible your cat could develop similar behaviours. Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you what’s wrong, so it’s up to you as a cat parent to find out.

Some things are very obvious but others can be much harder to detect. For example, if you’ve recently moved this could make your cat stressed. A new neighbourhood means unfamiliar territory. Your cat will feel vulnerable from other kitties until she’s settled.

There are many ways your cat could display signs of OCD, with fur pulling being just one of them. If the behaviour has developed suddenly, and your cat seems otherwise ok, think of any recent changes that may have triggered it.

Stress and why cats pull out hair

Apart from moving home there are are many other reasons your cat may be stressed. Anything from a new baby to bullying from other cats. These can be highly stressful to your kitty. Finding ways to calm your anxious cat may also stop her biting and pulling fur out. Installing a Feliway plug in may help your cat feel calm and relaxed. Not all cats benefit from it though.

Are fleas making your kitty itch?

If your cat is allergic to flea saliva, an infestation could prove very itchy. Constant scratching and biting can easily cause hair loss. You’ll soon know if fleas are the culprit by using a flea comb. Sparse patches of fur would commonly be seen in areas easily reached during grooming.

Applying topical flea treatment usually works, though you’d need to treat carpets and bedding as well. If you notice bald areas on the back of your cat’s neck, this won’t be caused by pulling out fur. Any bald or thin patches around the neck are usually caused by a hormonal imbalance.

Other allergies that cause itchiness

Apart from fleas and ticks there are other factors known to cause itchy skin. Diet can cause itchiness if your cat is sensitive to a particular food. The only way of finding out is by changing her diet. Even though your cat may like a particular brand of cat food, doesn’t mean she won’t be sensitive to it.

Dust mites are commonly found in most homes especially in bedding and carpets. It’s not just humans that can be sensitive to them but our pets as well. Even plug in air fresheners could make your cat’s skin itch. Anything that irritates your kitty’s skin will make her bite and pull on her fur. Once you find what’s causing the problem and treat it, you should find your cat stops pulling her fur out.

Colloidal silver can be very effective in soothing irritations. It’s antibacterial and anti-fungal to support healthy skin. It should also help destroy any bacterial or fungal infections your cat may already have.

Feline dermatitis and why cats pull out hair

Feline dermatitis is typically caused by an allergy to flea bites or a mite infestation. If you notice sore patches of skin with scabs, it’s likely to be dermatitis. Your cat will be obsessively scratching and grooming the affected area. Chunks of fur can easily be pulled out as she tries to sooth her itchy skin.

Can grooming and pulling out fur be caused by pain?

While stress and allergies are the most common reasons your cat pulls out fur, there are others as well. These can include pain from arthritis, or cuts and scratches. Cats will constantly lick wounded skin in an attempt to heal it. Your cat’s saliva contains a protease inhibitor that promotes skin healing.

Arthritic pain and pulling out fur

Older cats can suffer the pain of arthritis just like people. Painful joints could make your cat obsessively bite and lick the affected area. Much of this behaviour is self soothing, making your cat feel better. Touch the spot and if it’s sensitive take a closer look. If there are no obvious signs of cuts, arthritis could be a cause, especially if your cat is older.

Adding a fish oil supplement to your cat’s diet may resolve the problem. Make sure you buy one specifically for cats or dogs though. Bear in mind, you won’t see immediate results as it can take up to three months for improvements to show.

You should see any bald or sparse patches recover after the supplement starts working. If your cat continues to scratch and pull out fur despite home treatments, see your vet for advice.

If there are any cuts or scratches, your cat may have been fighting. Though most cat fights are just noise, your kitty could still get a nasty wound from a rival cat. Fights are mostly over territory, and a rival cat may think your kitty shouldn’t be there! If you notice your cat suddenly licking and biting an area of skin, take a close look.

If there are visible cuts don’t panic. Clean the area with warm water using a soft cloth and a drop of very mild antiseptic. Only ever use products suitable for pets though. A good idea would be to keep a small bottle of antiseptic just in case your kitty needs first aid.

Could bladder problems cause your cat to pull out fur?

why cats pull out hair

Though much less likely, pulling out fur in genital areas could indicate illness. Feline urinary tract infection is quite common and could in some cases cause over grooming. If you notice your cat constantly licking and biting in his or her genital area, take a look.

Bald or sparse patches of fur may indicate an infection. However, you’d notice other signs as well such as frequent trips to the litter tray. If you’ve ruled out other possible causes it may be a good idea to see the vet. A course of antibiotics would soon clear up any infection.

So now you know the answer as to why cats pull out their fur.

As you’ve discovered it’s most likely to be caused by stress or allergies. What you’d never give a second thought to, your cat may see as being the most stressful thing ever! Cats are highly sensitive creatures and not as adaptable as us humans.

We’ve also covered other causes including illness and arthritis, as well as recommended ways to treat them. Most causes of cats pulling out fur are not serious. Many are easily treatable at home without visiting a vet. However, if you find your cat is still over grooming and biting her skin you should see a vet. Providing it’s a stubborn parasite or skin infection that won’t heal, you’ll be given the right medication to clear it up.

If you’ve enjoyed reading my post and found it useful, please share 🙂 Feel free to share this pin on your “pets” board

Why Cats Pull Out Their Hair pin

I’d also love you to share any experiences you may have had with a cat pulling out its fur. Please feel free to leave any comments below.

Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂


8 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Pull Out Their Fur (And How To Stop It)”

      • Very possibly discovered why our cat constantly pulls her fur, grooms and scratches. This article was very helpful. Thank you. Now, to figure out how to best handle what we feel is the cause (mites).

        • Thank you Becky:) I don’t know whether you’ve heard of it, but colloidal silver is supposed to be very effective in treating mites on both dogs and cats. You need to use it very sparingly and dab gently on a piece of cotton wool. Hope this helps:)

  1. This was very helpful our cat is older and not ripping out hair but biting it off short. It is just a 4 inch strip wide on her back we thought she was rubbing it off but we have never seen her do that. So we will clean the cat tree and vac. more often to see if that helps. Your art. was very informative. She might have some issues with her back legs so we will try your ideas.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Jerrie, glad you found this article helpful:) Yes, cleaning the cat tree may help, as well as bedding and anything your cat spends time near. If you think your cat has arthritis it may be a good idea to get her checked over by your vet as he may be able to suggest something. It’s very hard to know what’s causing your cat to bite her hair, but it may even have developed into a habit. Hopefully it improves:)

  2. Thank you for the helpful information. Some items of concern I know do not apply to my 13-year old cat, but you gave me some good info to look into for my cat’s sudden onset of licking and pulling fur off one leg until it looks like she makes it sore (red). Also, a problem area on her back she cleans often, but does not pull fur out. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Linda, sorry to hear about your cat pulling out fur on her leg. If she’s obsessively cleaning her back it could be an infestation. Try gently parting the fur and look for any tiny dots. These would be flea eggs. You can test this by combing her coat and adding a few drops of water to any loose hair. If you can see any red colour, this indicates flea eggs. If this is the case, use a spot on treatment such as Frontline. With regards her leg, you could ask your vet’s advice. He may suggest an ointment to help heal the sore area. Hope this helps, and thanks for stopping by:)


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