What Causes Cats to Lose Fur around Their Necks?

by Scott Morgan, Demand Media
    Hair loss in cats is usually triggered by allergies or reactions.

    Hair loss in cats is usually triggered by allergies or reactions.

    Every cat owner is aware of cat hair drifting through the house. But when cats lose clumps of fur from the head and neck areas, it could be a symptom of a more pressing problem. Fortunately for you and your kitties, most causes of fur loss around cats' necks are easily remedied.

    Mange

    Alopecia, or hair loss, in cats often is the result of mange, a skin disorder caused when mites cluster in a specific area near the ears and head. The mites inhibit hair follicles, causing the fur to become brittle and loose. Itching, dandruff and sores can also be signs of mange. Mange is rare in cats, but Siamese and Burmese cats tend to be at higher risk. Mange is treated with a lime sulfur dip or prescription medicine. Do not try to treat it yourself though -- always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

    Fleas

    Far more common than mange-causing mites are fleas and the allergies cats have to flea bites and feces. Most often, these reactions manifest as skin conditions, but in more serious cases, flea saliva, larvae or feces can damage hair follicles, and like mange, cause fur to become brittle and loose. In most cases, simply removing the fleas with a comb, dip or medication, is enough to solve the problem, and fur tends to grow back.

    Drug Reaction

    Occasionally, cats react to drugs used to inoculate or treat other conditions, or to human-prescribed medications or drugs that they ingest. Though rare, these skin reactions are most common with penicillin, sulfonamides and cephalosporins and usually occur within two weeks. Drug reactions can cause an array of symptoms, from itching to swelling, but hair loss is a common sign of a drug reaction or allergy in cats. The best treatment is to discontinue the drug, but always talk to your vet first.

    Hormonal and Glandular Problems

    Sometimes fur loss is triggered by glandular problems, particularly concerning the reproductive or skin glands. Hair loss on the back of the neck is an early warning symptom of hormonal imbalance in cats. Treatment is hormone therapy by a veterinarian.
    Sebaceous adenitis, a condition involving oil-producing glands under the skin, is rare in cats, but can result in hair loss and scales on the head and neck. The condition is treated with special shampoos or steroids.

    About the Author

    Scott Morgan is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered central New Jersey since 2001. He has worked with the Princeton Packet Newsgroup, US 1 Publishing, "Unique Homes Magazine" and Community News Service. Morgan also serves as a professional speaker and teacher. He holds a bachelor's degree in humanities from Thomas Edison State College.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images