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Why is my cat’s tail thinning out?

Seeing your cat’s tail thinning out can be a serious concern for any cat lover. After all, no one wants to see their kitty in pain or looking unhealthy. What could cause your cat’s tail to lose hair?

You’ll learn about the various causes for your kitty’s tail thinning and the possible treatment options.   

Why Is My Cat’s Tail Thinning Out?

There are various possible causes for your cat’s tail thinning out: 

1. Stud Tail 

Your cat may be suffering from stud tail, which is also called feline tail gland hyperplasia, if you notice a moist and waxy area near the base of the tail together with a thinner tail (because of hair loss). The area will also have blackheads or comedones, which become infected. This results in swelling, pain, and hair loss. 

This disorder happens when the sebaceous or oil gland doesn’t function well anymore, or rather, overfunctions, creating the overabundance of oil at the tail base. 

The most common cause for stud tail is excess hormones that are secreted when unneutered male cats go through puberty. However, for unknown reasons, neutered male cats and female cats can also have stud tail. 

2. Ringworm 

A fungal infection known as ringworm may infect your cat, causing hair loss, rash, and dry skin. There will be a circular area that’s super itchy on your cat’s body or tail. The fungi that’s responsible for ringworm live off digesting keratin that is found in hair and nails, weakening the skin layers.  

3. Fleas, Ticks, and Allergies 

Another reason your cat’s tail may be losing hair is because of parasites that have set up shop there. 

Fleas and ticks bite your cat’s skin, causing small rashes, itchiness, and dry skin. Some cats may also be hypersensitive to the antigens in flea saliva, which also causes itchiness. 

Lice, scabies, and mange can also cause itchiness. 

Your cat may over-groom itself and pull the hair out. Or your kitty can dig its sharp nails into the tail to find some relief, only to rip out pieces of hair. 

Food and environmental allergies may have the same effect in causing your cat to feel itchy and over-groom. However, with these kinds of allergies, there may be hairless patches all over your cat and not just on their tail. 

4. Pain 

Your cat may be compulsively grooming an area of its body like the tail because of neuropathic pain. This pain may be the result of nerve damage from an injury. 

If your cat has arthritis, they can lick the achy joint because it helps relieve any discomfort the cat feels. 

When your cat over-grooms, they can lick or rip out hair, which can cause your cat’s tail to look thinner.  

5. Stress

If your cat is stressed, it may be chewing on its tail to relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. Tail chewing can rip out tail hair, and eventually, your cat’s tail will look thin and less fluffy. 

The stress may be a result of moving homes, boredom, the addition of new pets, a change in your routine, a new baby, remodeling or construction in your home, or even the stress of a storm. 

6. Psychogenic Alopecia 

Psychogenic alopecia is a compulsive disorder that causes your cat to compulsively groom itself. Grooming becomes a priority for your cat and takes precedence over other activities.  Your kitty’s tail will lose hair because your cat obsessively licks and bites at it. 

Boredom, stress, or anxiety are common triggers for this disorder. 

7. Tail Trauma

Tail trauma because of an abscess, a fracture, nerve damage, or abrasion can cause fur loss. 

If your cat is suffering from tail trauma, you’d likely also see other symptoms like bleeding, skin damage, signs of pain, an inability to hold the tail up, lack of movement in the tail, swelling along the tail, a limp tail, and inability to poop or urinate.  

8. Other Reasons 

Other reasons your cat’s tail is thinning could include: 

  • A poor or unbalanced diet 
  • Certain medication 
  • Insufficient grooming due to being obese and then rubbing its tail on abrasive objects 
  • Skin cancer 
  • Cushing’s disease 

Why Is My Cat’s Tail No Longer Fluffy?

If your cat’s tail is no longer fluffy, it could be shedding season. Apart from a thinner tail, you may also find lots of cat hair all over your house.

Cats that spend time outdoors shed twice a year. Your cat will shed once during spring to get rid of the thick winter undercoat for the warm and hot months and then again in fall for the “grow-in” of the thick winter undercoat during the cold months. 

If your cat spends most of its time inside the house where it’s exposed to air conditioning and heat, its biological system can become confused. As a result, an indoor cat will shed pretty much constantly and your cat’s tail may not be fluffy.    

What to Do About My Cat’s Tail Thinning Out?

What you can do about your kitty’s thinning tail all depends on the cause for the hair loss. 

Treatment for Stud Tail 

If you suspect your cat is suffering from stud tail, a visit to the vet is in order. They will prescribe the right course of treatment, which may include neutering a pubescent male cat, washing the infected area with an antibacterial shampoo, applying a topical ointment, and using a buster collar. 

Sometimes the infection will clear up, and stud tail will resolve over time. In rare cases, stud tail may be a chronic condition in which you need to ensure the area around your cat’s tail remains clean.  

Treatment for Ringworm 

Take your cat to the vet if you think ringworm is the cause for hair loss on the tail. Your vet will most likely prescribe a topical antifungal medication that you need to apply to the infected area. A systemic medication may also be prescribed. 

It can take up to six weeks or longer to cure a ringworm infection, and take care as it is also super contagious to humans.

Treatment for Fleas, Ticks, and Allergies 

To treat a flea infestation, comb and spray your cat with a solution of hot water and dish soap to drown and get rid of as many of these insects as possible. Then administer flea medication that is safe for your cat. 

Next, you want to prevent the fleas, mites, and ticks from coming back, so regularly treat your cat for these.  

For ticks, remove them and place the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it. Wash your hands, and apply an antibiotic or disinfectant ointment to the bite. 

Monitor your cat even after you’ve removed the tick and take your kitty to the vet if you see signs of anemia, fever, cough, lameness, lethargy, skin inflammation or infection, or poor appetite. 

Treatment for Pain 

It is best to take your cat to your local vet if you think your cat is in pain. The vet can prescribe the right medication and other treatments to help your cat feel better. 

Treatment for Stress 

Find out why your cat may be stressed. Has anything changed recently? 

If you aren’t sure, check that there are sufficient litter boxes that are kept clean, enough water bowls and food, plenty of scratching posts, not too much noise, and that your cat gets enough attention. 

You can consider giving your cat calming medication that is feline-safe and prescribed by your vet. Your vet can also recommend other treatment options.  

Treatment for Psychogenic Alopecia 

Treating feline psychogenic alopecia means reducing or removing anything that causes your cat stress. Talk to your vet about bad-tasting sprays or gels, protective collars, or antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. Your vet may also suggest homeopathy or taking your kitty to a behavioral specialist. 

Treatment for Tail Trauma 

It is best to call your vet and schedule an appointment so they can evaluate the damage. Depending on the severity of the trauma, your vet will recommend treatment options, which may be “minor” in the form of an antibiotic ointment for abrasions or “major” in the form of surgery or amputation.

Treatment for Other Reasons 

If you think there is another reason that your cat’s tail is losing hair, it is best to schedule an appointment with your vet. The vet can do a check-up and, if necessary, run tests to make a formal diagnosis. Your vet is also the best person to recommend treatment.