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My Cat Is Pulling Hair Out Alongside Its Backbone: Vet Reviewed Causes

close up of bald spot in fur of domestic cat

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Cats are curious creatures; their behaviors each fascinate and perplex us. A trademark attribute of cats is that they ceaselessly groom themselves. Whereas wholesome cats do groom themselves frequently, generally cats might take it too far and take away total chunks of hair alongside their again, leaving bald spots. In case you discover your cat pulling extra chunks of hair out of their again, it’s a signal of an underlying problem that wants veterinary intervention.

Nonetheless curious? Learn on to search out out the completely different doable explanations!

Why Do Cats Groom Themselves?

Grooming is a pure, instinctive, and wholesome behavior for cats. Cats are accustomed to grooming from start – their moms ceaselessly groom them to maintain them clear, and grooming even stimulates kittens to move urine and poo. Kittens start to self-groom at round 4 weeks of age and infrequently groom their litter mates to strengthen their bond with one another.
Grooming is hard-wired into your cat’s DNA and has many advantages. Cats groom themselves utilizing their tongue, enamel, and paws. Their inherent flexibility additionally makes them skilled self-groomers.
You could typically discover your cat use their forepaws as a loofah and rub it over their face after a meal to start self-grooming and luxuriate in its many advantages. Then, they typically work their approach all the way down to the remainder of their physique.

The Advantages of Grooming

  • Retains their coats clear. Grooming retains a cat’s coat wanting wholesome. As cats groom themselves, they stimulate the sebaceous glands alongside their pores and skin, thereby distributing pure pores and skin oils throughout their physique.

  • Stimulates blood circulation.

  • Assist regulates physique temperature. As saliva dries and evaporates, it helps your cat calm down

  • Helps take away parasites from their hair.

  • Helps accidents heal quicker. Compounds within the saliva of cats might assist wounds and different accidents heal quicker.

  • Helps cat alleviate stress and tedium.

  • Strengthens their bond with different cats. This will likely even be why you might sometimes discover your cat attempt to groom you as nicely!

Due to this fact, it’s a good signal to see your cat take the time to groom themselves all through the day.

When Is Self-Grooming Thought-about “Not Regular”?

Self-grooming usually takes up a superb portion of a cat’s day. They might spend as much as half of their waking hours preening, licking, biting, scratching, and chewing completely different components of their physique. Seeing your cat carry out these acts is totally regular and is a part of your cat’s ordinary routine.

Self-grooming, nevertheless, turns into problematic when your cat begins overdoing it. In case your cat begins pulling out massive chunks of hair, excessively scratches, bites, and chews, leaves bald spots, and exhibits apparent indicators of irritation and discomfort, then there might a extra critical underlying problem.


Be aware that at occasions, the time period shedding could also be confused with over-grooming. Nevertheless, there’s a distinction between the 2. Whilst you might discover a large amount of cat hair throughout your own home, furnishings, and garments as your cat sheds, wholesome shedding leaves no bald spots in your cat. A cat that excessively over-grooms a specific space of their physique typically develops bald patches or spots from doing so. This lack of hair can be known as alopecia and isn’t thought-about regular.

cat with eyes-closed grooming itself
Picture Credit score: ErikGlez, Shutterstock

Causes Your Cat Could Overgroom Themselves

1. Itchiness

The primary and most typical motive as to why your cat could also be pulling out chunks of hair from their again is as a result of they’re feeling one thing itchy. Extreme scratching and preening on a selected space could also be your cat’s approach of assuaging themselves from their itch. Widespread culprits of an itch alongside the again embrace hypersensitivities, parasites, and fungal or bacterial infections.


Hypersensitivity is an over exaggerated response to something that will trigger an allergy. In cats, the most typical wrongdoer for such a hypersensitivity is from fleas. Many cats might develop a very hyper response in response to flea bites, and excessively groom the world the place they really feel they itch. This situation is also called flea allergy dermatitis. The most typical web site for that is alongside the again and rump, close to the bottom of the tail.


One other widespread motive for itch could also be as a consequence of parasites. These embrace the aforementioned fleas, together with different parasites, comparable to mites, lice, and ticks. Fleas, mites, lice, and ticks all differ in dimension, however they will all trigger immense discomfort and irritation in your cat’s pores and skin every time they chunk your cat.

Fungal & Bacterial Infections

Fungal infections are comparatively widespread in cats. They might even be known as ringworm, a fungal an infection which will get its identify for its attribute ring-like form when seen in people. Whereas cats don’t all the time get the everyday round lesions that people do, the an infection is nonetheless itchy, irritating and leaves bald, scabby spots because it spreads round your cat’s physique. As well as, as a result of felines can move ringworm to people and get ringworm from them as nicely, fungal infections mandate instant, aggressive remedy.

Bacterial infections are usually secondary to an current harm and may probably irritate and worsen lesions. Typically, these bacterial infections set in when cats repeatedly chunk and scratch an irritated space, beginning a vicious cycle of perpetuating additional harm, leading to infections of the pores and skin setting in. As well as, deep bacterial infections, also called pyodermas, are additionally very painful and itchy

2. Ache

Along with an itch, cats might excessively pull out their hair alongside their again as a consequence of ache within the space. Cats are identified to overly groom areas that they really feel are painful. That is as a result of soothing advantages grooming provides your cat, which they attempt to switch to a “drawback space” every time ache units in. For cats pulling out the hairs on their again, a possible trigger could also be as a consequence of pores and skin discomfort. For instance, your cat might overly groom an open wound. Open wounds are painful or uncomfortable, and a cat’s approach of relieving the ache from a wound could also be by way of licking and chewing on the injured web site.

white cat licking his body
Picture Credit score: Piqsels

3. Compulsive Habits: Psychogenic Alopecia

Cats can expertise a situation known as psychogenic alopecia, and will over groom themselves and find yourself plucking out extra chunks of hair as a consequence of a behavioral problem fairly than a bodily pores and skin problem. In such situations, cats overly groom themselves as a coping mechanism. They will simply expertise stress and nervousness to sudden adjustments of their surroundings or when their regular routines are disrupted.

Stressors or adjustments that may stress out your cat embrace:

  • Adjustments of their surroundings
  • Introduction of a brand new pet in the home
  • Introduction of a kid or child in the home
  • Rearrangement or addition of latest furnishings
  • Lack of train or playtime
  • Separation nervousness and loneliness

These are a few of the widespread stressors that may trigger your cat to lick, chunk, and pull out their hair on their pores and skin, together with their backs. They will additionally depart bald spots and lesions as a consequence of extra self-inflicted trauma on the pores and skin.

Psychogenic alopecia needs to be managed earlier than bald spots and lesions worsen and probably develop infections.

maine coon cat grooming itself
Picture Credit score: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

What Ought to I Do?

Must you suspect that your cat is overgrooming themselves or eradicating extra chunks of hair, it’s best to take them to a vet earlier than the situation worsens. Attempt to hold your cat from pulling out any extra hair from their again. Elizabethan collars, also called e-collars or donut/doughnut collars, can forestall your cat from licking, biting, and chewing an space.

Your veterinarian will collect related medical historical past about your cat and carry out a bodily examination in your cat. Your vet may additionally carry out further assessments in your cat’s pores and skin and the hair round their “drawback areas”. These might embrace impression smears, hair plucks, and laboratory assessments. Relying on the doable explanation for the issue, your vet may additionally run some blood assessments in your cat.

Utilizing the knowledge from the bodily examination and diagnostic assessments, your vet will be capable to decide the seemingly explanation for the hair loss in your cat’s again and formulate a remedy plan that’s most applicable for the reason for your cat’s hair woes.

Remaining Ideas

Self-grooming in cats is regular, however it will possibly turn out to be problematic when your cat excessively scratches, bites, chews, and pulls out hair to an extent the place they develop bald spots. Many causes of this uncommon self-inflicted habits could also be as a consequence of pores and skin irritations and ache, however different causes may additionally be a behavioral response to emphasize.

Whatever the trigger, it is very important take your cat to a vet anytime you believe you studied they’re overgrooming themselves. The very last thing we would like is for our fur infants to proceed hurting themselves!

Featured Picture Credit score: Firn, Shutterstock

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