Small hairless areas on cat ears

My cat has small, hairless areas on her ears - what is this?

Any time that a pet develops a hairless area on their body (which was previously covered in hair), it is a good idea to have him or her examined by your veterinarian. Sudden or gradual hair loss can be caused by a variety of infections, including mites, yeast, bacteria and other fungi.  Flea bite allergy can also make cats very itchy, resulting in hairless, inflamed areas around the neck and head. Certain auto-immune diseases can also cause hairless patches on the ears, face and neck of cats. Some cats have naturally hairless or sparsely haired areas between their eyes and the ears, so it is a good idea to have the vet check and see if there is a problem.

One of the most common causes of hair loss in cats is ringworm (dermatophytosis). Ringworm is seen on the face, ears and sometimes paws of cats. Some cats can be “carriers” of ringworm and do not show changes in their hair or skin. Your veterinarian will take samples of hair for a fungal culture and perform a special UV light test called a ‘Woods Lamp exam’ to diagnose ringworm.  Treatment for ringworm can involve oral medication or special shampoos. Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread to people. If your cat has hairless areas and someone in your home develops a skin rash – see your physician immediately.