Thriving Cat

Why Do Cats Pull Out Their Fur?

Cat Licking Fur

Why Do Cats Pull Out Their Fur?

There can be many reasons cats pull out their fur, including food allergies, infestation, systemic medical causes and stress related (called ‘psychological alopecia’ in cats).  If you have ruled out infestation and medical reasons, anxiety is often the cause. Try these products to help sooth your cat’s anxiety and fix the behavior. I was so confused as to why my tabby boy was suddenly pulling out his fur in mouthfuls. He started doing this last year at 9 years old and the vet could find no reason.  We have finally found a great solution. Jackson Galaxy Safe Space for Cats Drops stops 90% of his fur pulling. It is not a 100% solution but it has drastically cut down the obsessive fur pulling and resulting clumps of fur all over the house. The drops are very easy to use, just rub them on your cat’s fur. That is it! The same line also makes a formula called Obsession Solution. I have tried that too and see little difference between the two products for this purpose. We already have Safe Space Drops for another cat who has anxiety and behavioral problems if untreated. You can check out Safe Space for Cats Drops from the link below:

Jackson Galaxy Solutions also makes a drop called Skin Soother which can help with irritation caused by allergies or infection with insect pests. I have not tried this drop yet but I plan to try it next. It is made specifically for obsessive behaviors due to irritated skin so it should work well.

So Why Do Cats Obsessively Pull Their Fur?

There can be many reasons cats pull out fur ranging from medical to psychological. Medical reasons can include: fleas, mites, ringworm and other parasites. Underlying cancer or other conditions could also cause cats to bite, lick and pull out fur. Systemic problems could also be a cause such as adrenal problems. Our vet suggested our boy’s heart murmur could irritate him and that could be triggering this. In fact taking him to the vet for the fur pulling is how we found out about the heart murmur. I am not saying a heart murmur is a likely cause and we really do not know if the two are related. Other common causes for pulling fur are fleas and food allergies. For more information on food allergies and intolerance read my post here. There are multiple species of mites (called “scabies”) which can cause the condition commonly referred to as “mange”. These itchy, irritating outbreaks are highly contagious so if you have multiple pets itching this could be the cause.  If these medical reasons are ruled out then psychological causes should be considered.

What Are Psychological Causes For Cats Pulling Out Fur?

Cats are very sensitive to stress and changes in their environment. Moving, gaining or losing a pet, getting a new baby, a new neighbor cat or dog or any other life change is very disruptive to a cat’s sensitive routine. Other causes for anxiety and obsessive grooming can be due to fighting with another pet or being around stressed-out people. If you are upset your pet will be upset too. Sadness, anger and stress all affect our pets. We can see if they walk up and check on us but we may not know our stress is causing them stress as well. A simple change to the family schedule can stress a cat. They are creatures who love routine. Any of these stressors could cause psychologic alopecia. ‘Alopecia’ means hair loss.

Stress from Abandonment and Adoption

Cats may feel scared, confused and angry if they are dumped by their previous owners. They may sit in a cramped, noisy shelter for weeks or months and then find themselves in yet another strange environment when they are adopted. Understand that your cat is going to feel some sort of emotion due to this life change. Depending on the cat and their treatment in the past they may be scared, confused or even angry. If they had what they thought was a happy home they may feel like they don’t belong in your home and have been kidnapped. If they have been through a rough time they may be relieved to be in your home but still be cautious and nervous. It WILL take time for a cat to adjust to a new home. With love and patience your cat will become a happy member of your family. In the mean time you can help ease their transition with a product like Jackson Galaxy Safe Space for Cats Drops. One of my cats needs this. Without it he was a wreck but with Sentry Calming Collars and these drops he is perfectly happy and well behaved. He is gentle, loving, doesn’t get into any trouble and is really a perfect cat. He follows me around like a dog and so his nickname is Pooch.

How Can I Stop My Cat From Pulling Out His Fur?

If you have taken your cat to the vet and they don’t find any medical reason for obsessive grooming, you should try to rule out food allergies as well. Food allergies and intolerance are related but often have different common symptoms. Food intolerance often causes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and throwing up. Food allergies often cause itching and skin irritation. It can be a slow process determining what your cat is allergic too. Common allergens can be specific proteins in dairy and fish or something totally different like rabbit. If you don’t see any other signs of food allergy or intolerance you can try the Safe Space for Cats Drops  or Obsession Solution drops from Jackson Galaxy. They are applied on the fur. Nothing has to be administered or swallowed. Just rub the drops on your cat’s fur and you are done. The drops have hardly any perceptible smell to people but they work wonders on cats with any sort of anxiety.

The instructions say to apply multiple times per day but I usually apply them only twice per day but with a bit larger dose. More often will certainly be helpful starting out. I love that these drops don’t have a strong chemical smell. That is one downside to some of the pheromone mimicking products like the collars.

Whether food allergies or infestation or stress is the cause of skin irritation you can try Jackson Galaxy Solutions Skin Soother drops. I have not used them but they are made specifically for soothing cat’s excessive grooming caused by skin irritation.

Tips For Fixing Fur Pulling

Of course you should always be as calm and happy as possible around your cat. If you are upset no amount of drops or other products will counteract that stress for your pet. Also make sure you take your cat to a veterinarian in case their behavior is caused by a medical cause.

If stress is the cause of the condition, telling your cat they are bad or yelling at them when they pull out fur will actually make the problem worse. Even if they stop the behavior when you tell them not to they will still do it when you are not looking.

I have noticed if I miss a dose of the drops my boy will pull out fur. Therefore, I would imagine applying them more frequently is better if your cat is still pulling fur. Of course make sure parasites like mites are not the cause. A single flea bite can cause many days or even weeks of itching but please do not chemical flea collars or drops. They are toxic and cause seizures and permanent damage in some cats and dogs. I know someone personally who has such a cat who almost died from flea treatments. Please look for natural flea products.

For more information on cat health and behavior problems and solutions, please look around this website. The Categories on the right side of the page will take you to the specific topics you select.


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Please leave any thoughts or questions in a comment below! I would love to hear from you.






  1. Alblue

    My aunt’s cat has a habit of pulling its fur. She thinks it just flea, but I don’t think so. Really glad to find your article here. Since this habit has existed for so long I can remember, I’m actually suspecting its food is the cause. I’ll tell my aunt to test another cat food brand. Is it possible to test food allergies by consulting with a vet too? Thanks

    1. Jessica (Post author)


      Most vets will not test for food allergies. They will tell you to try elimination diets and find a food that works for your pet. Vets may perform skin tests for skin reactions but often just recommend changing food for that as well. 

      If the cat is on a cheap food like Meow Mix, regular Purina etc. it could likely be causing skin problems due to poor nutrition as well. Try a higher quality cat food if possible. The cheap foods are full of fillers and don’t offer much nutrition. This can lead to dry skin and many health problems. 

      I hope your aunt’s cat gets some relief one way or the other!

      Thanks for stopping by,


  2. Jon

    It is often disheartening when a cat or a pet is pulling out their fur but if my dog has taught me anything it is that pets often do it for a reason and are trying to tell you something. Most of the time the reason for pulling out fur is a bug or skin tag that is bothering them. Have you always been able to pinpoint the cause of the problem?

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      No, we have not pinpointed the cause of the problem but the vet suggested it may be stress related since they could not see anything wrong with the skin. 

      We have had multiple vets look and not find a problem and the drops seem to be working so that is what we use now. 

      Thank you,


  3. Paul

    Dear Jessica,

    Thanks a lot for the insightful & informative article and I got helpful insights from your article.

    I do often think why our cat and dog pull out their fur but I thought its a normal behavior with them. But you have provided me with the answer for this question. Recently my wife gave birth to our boy baby, so far we didn’t care much about the cat and dog fur in our house we clean it twice a day but my wife advised me to check for some solutions. And I found your helpful post.

    My vet advised me to give bath often to our pets and it will stop this problem but nothing changed. I was shocked and surprised to know that the stress plays an important role in this. Jackson Galaxy solutions is on my list.

    May I ask…

    Can I use “Jackson Galaxy – Safe Space for Cats” Drops to my dog as well? or is there any drops for dog? Please advice.

    Much Success!


    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Paul,

      Yes, there is a “Safe Space for Dogs” product as well. I have not used that one. If dogs and cats are really healthy they should not need baths. Most itching is due to food allergies, pests like fleas or a lack of proper nutrition. Correcting the dietary problem often fixes skin problems unless it is caused by stress. In that case the Jackson Galaxy Safe Space drops should work. 

      I hope your wife and baby are well and you find a solution for your pets.

      Thank you,


      1. St Paul Severe

        Thanks a lot for your swift response and clarification on “Safe Space for Dog”.

        Wishing you great Success!



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