Black, Scaly Patches With Hair Loss in Cats

Use grooming time as an opportunity to look for signs of ringworm.
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If you’ve got a cat, you probably spend a fair amount of time vacuuming cat hair from your couch and carpeting. While it’s normal for cats to shed dead hair, excessive hair loss is anything but normal, particularly if black scales cover bald spots.


If your cat has black scaly patches and hair loss, she could have ringworm or feline acne. Ringworm is a fungal infection that takes its name from the raised, circular rings that often appear on the skin. Although it might look as if a small worm is under your cat’s skin, ringworm actually has nothing to do worms. Your cat develops ringworm when she comes in contact with fungal spores from infected people or animals. Feline acne develops when hair follicles on your cat’s chin or lip clog with oil or debris, triggering inflammation of the area.


Ringworm lesions don’t always appear in a circular pattern, but can occur in any pattern. Your cat loses hair when spores weaken your cat’s hair shafts. Every cat that develops ringworm doesn’t suffer from hair loss. Bald spots tend to be thicker than surrounding skin and covered with a red or dark crust that may appear black. The Pet MD website notes that ringworm infections are more common in younger animals and long-haired breeds. If your cat has feline acne, you will notice blackheads, whiteheads, black scaly patches or boils on your cat’s skin. If the problem is severe, your cat’s chin may swell or appear red, and symptoms might be accompanied by hair loss.


Proper diagnosis by a veterinarian is important if your cat develops hair loss and black scaly patches on her skin. If your cat has ringworm, your veterinarian might prescribe a prescription topical medication, an oral anti-fungal medication, or a combination of both medications to treat your cat’s ringworm infection. Some cats benefit from special dips or medicated shampoos. While your cat might not appreciate any therapy that involves getting wet, these treatments can significantly help improve the lesions. If feline acne is the problem, your veterinarian might prescribe a topical cream or ointment that helps remove bacteria that causes acne from your cat’s skin.

Home Care

Ringworm is very contagious. Thorough cleaning can help ensure that the fungus doesn’t infect other animals and people in your home. Wash any items that cat has touched when it’s confirmed that she has ringworm. Mop or vacuum floors, but avoid using a broom to sweep the floor, as this can spread fungal spores through the air. Cats can develop feline acne if they eat from plastic food dishes. If your cat uses a plastic dish, replace it with a stainless steel or ceramic dish.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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