A number of months ago, I noticed that my cat developed a small circular bald spot on the top of its head. I noticed the hair loss a day or two after my cat had gone outside for 10-15 minutes, and then on that same day preceded to throw up a yellowish looking substance (which looked much different from anything I had ever seen before)… Most likely it was from eating grass, but it looked much different than the usually grassy cat puke. So along with the patch of hair missing from the top of my cats head, I also started noticing what appeared to be bloody looking scabs develop where there was no longer any hair and also in a few other areas.
What Is Going On with My Cat?
At this point, I didn’t have a good feeling about what was going on and why the bald patch had come about. I first thought that he might have gotten fleas or mites from going outside, then I began to think he might have a tapeworm or ringworm. I also questioned whether or not the scars were from getting in a cat fight while outside, but thought that was pretty unlikely due to the nature of my cat and the amount of time he was outside. Lastly, I wondered if it might be from some sort of food allergy.
My cat never scratched the area on the top of his head, so whatever was going on didn’t seem to bother him. So that made me think that the cause probably wasn’t fleas, although I still got some flea tablets and gave it to him. After doing research online, and seeing pictures of other cats who’d lost hair, I suspected it was ringworm. So I decided to go the natural route, and see if I couldn’t clear up the problem using Apple Cider Vinegar. While Apple Cider Vinegar may get rid of ringworm, it did not get rid of the problem my cat was having. Looking back, it probably was a bad idea, since it most likely just burned my cats skin and didn't remedy the problem (Just as a side note: If you ever try putting Apple Cider Vinegar on your own skin twice a day for a few days, you’ll definitely notice that it will burn your skin).
Time to Take My Cat to the Vet
So finally, I decided to bite the bullet and take my cat to the Vet and have them check him out and find out what exactly was going on. Well, after telling my Cornell educated Veterinarian the whole story, he took my cat back and shaved his head around the areas that had scabbed up and checked him out for ringworm. He did not find any ringworm or fleas, and essentially told me that the hair loss and scabs where most likely caused from my cat being in a fight with another cat or animal, since the lesions were on the top of his head and around his eyes.
While it may have been a possibility, I really doubted the fact that he was in a cat fight, since it had been about a month since I had first noticed the issue and my cats head did not appear to be healing, instead it was getting worse. I did ask if it could be something else, but to my knowledge, he was pretty adamant that the cause was from a cat fight. So he then proceeded to prescribe an ointment called “Dermalone Oitment”, which I was supposed to put a small amount on the lesions three times a day. They said that I should start seeing an improvement within two weeks, and if things don’t get better within a month to bring the cat back in.
Not Too Happy With My Vet...
To my disappointment, after a month of using the ointment, nothing had changed with my cats hair loss or scabby skin condition. However, this didn’t exactly surprise me, since I didn’t think that bald scabby spots were caused from a cat fight. If anything, things seemed to be getting worse. I soon noticed other bald patches starting to develop. At this point, I didn’t really feel like bringing my cat back in to the same Vet again and paying another $130 in Vet fees, since he never really suggested that the reasons for the scaring and hair loss could be anything else other than some scratches from a cat or animal.
Home Remedy that Finally Worked
So again, I decided to take things into my own hands and try something else to cure my cats patchy spots on his head. I picked up Lamisil At cream, as well as a bottle of Zymox Medicated Pet Shampoo. Lamisil At cream is sometimes prescribed by vets to treat ringworm, but I’ve also read that it may be too strong for cats. I decided to use it one time. Initially, I did dab a little Lamisil At on his head where things had scabbed up (although, looking back I probably didn’t need to do this) and don't think it helped.
Instead, what I believe got rid of the scab and hair loss problem was using Zymox Medicated Pet Shampoo. The first time I used the shampoo I gave my cat a full bath and washed him completely with the shampoo. Over the next three or four days I only washed the top of his head with the shampoo. Then about a week later, I washed his head again. So all in all, I probably washed the top of his head a maximum of 5 times. I think if I had followed the Shampoo directions I was supposed to wash him everyday for two weeks, but I decided not to do this.
Well after about two weeks I started noticing some darkening on the top of his head where he had been missing hair. After about a month, I could barely notice any trouble spots and now over a month later the hair on the top of his head is almost completely grown in.
Essentially, my cat was most likely losing his hair and getting the scabs on his skin because of some kind of skin infection caused by a bacteria or fungi. Just by shampooing his head a handful of times with the Zymox Medicated Pet Shampoo, I was able to get rid of the infection and was able to help him start regrowing cat hair on the top of his head again in the spots that had gone bald.
Couple Take Aways
Couple things to note… never ever just assume that a doctor (veterinarian) knows all the answers no matter how many degrees he or she may have from some prestigious college. Always try to get a second and third opinion. I've always known this, but it's just a good reminder. Also, while the Zymox Medicated Pet shampoo may have worked to clear up the infection on the top of my cats head, it may not be the right solution for your pet cat or dog. Looking back it was surprising that most of the things I read online regarding cats losing hair in circular patches and cats skin scabbing, concluded that it was caused by ringworm (stress, scratching or licking). I’m not sure why I didn’t come across more people saying the issue could be caused by another type of skin infection, which could be cured by simply giving your cat a bath and washing him with some pet shampoo.
At any rate, I highly recommend getting a $14 bottle of Zymox Medicated Pet Shampoo if your cat is experiencing hair loss symptoms on the top of its head like my cat was. If nothing else, your cat will come away smelling really nice after giving him/her a wash using the shampoo. So anyways, hopefully the story of my cat helps you solve your own cats hair loss/skin infection problem. Good luck!
I haven't tried these, but Zymox also has Zymox Topical Pet Cream and Zymox Pet Spray, which both seem to have positive reviews on amazon. So if you're not inclined to shampoo your cat, then you may want to try one of those to help clear up your cats skin infection.
UPDATE 4-29-2018: I would also highly recommend giving your cat better cat food and plenty of wet cat food daily, especially if your cat throws up often and/or is having skin issues. I finally switched to Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Rice Adult Cat Food two months ago and it's been immensely better for my cat's skin/hair and his sensitive stomach issues (he rarely vomits now, which used to be a regular occurrance after eating). A few months ago, my cat had to have surgery to remove 3 benign cysts on his skin that kept growing bigger (1 cyst that was on his head, which was an open wound that would not heal up, so I opted for surgery). I now suspect all along, my cat more than likely had food allergies from "cheap" cat food, and it's possible this crappy cat food may have helped cause the skin irritations/hair loss and cysts. So with that said, I highly recommend trying the Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach cat food for your cat if it's having any kind of skin or stomach issues (I really wish I started giving my cat this food years ago). I also recently ordered and in the process of having my cat try BLUE Adult Sensitive Stomach Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food and Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Wet Cat Food (he doesn't like Hill's, so I combine half with Pro Plan wet food), so I'll see if my cat responds even better. As far as surgery goes, it's expensive and not fun for your cat to go through, but if you suspect your cat has cysts or abcesses, it's best to have your vet do a biopsy on the growth to determine what is going on and if it's cancerous. /END
One last thing, if you have an indoor cat (or mainly indoor cat), and have rugs in your house, make sure you vacuum your entire house, clean your sheets and wash your cats bedding (all regularly), due to the fact that the cat patchy hair loss problem could be caused by Dust mites in your carpets or bedding. If possible, you may want to have your carpets cleaned professionally, or consider getting a Hoover Carpet cleaner and do them your self to remove the dust and grime. If your cat throws up a lot and they've never been completely washed, aside from spot cleanup, then having your own carpet cleaner that you can use anytime to clean your carpets is probably the way to go. Update: 7-25-2013: I finally ended up buying the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer, FH50150 to wash my carpets, and I'm amazed at how well it washed and cleaned my beige colored carpets. They look so much newer and I can tell the carperts are now way cleaner. In one use, I can say the carpet cleaner paid for itself. UPDATE: 9-7-2014: I've since washed my carpets completely twice, and since doing so, my cat has not had any noticable hair loss. So in conclusion, it's possible the dust / carpets could have been a contributor of the skin issue.
A couple other things to consider: If you aren't protecting your cat of flea, be sure to pick up Advantage II Flea Control for your cat. You may also want to change the air filter in your home, if you have a central heating and cooling system in your home as well. Also you might want to get rid of any old cat toys. Just be sure that you do your best to get rid of any potential problems that may be causing your cat to lose its hair and get a skin infection.