Why Do Cat’s Have Thin Fur Above Their Eyes?

Unless they are a hairless breed, most cats have a pretty thick covering of fur over almost all of their bodies. Depending on the cat, the coat of fur can have between one to three layers and vary in length from shorthair to longhair.

Once place you might notice where the fur is sparse is between the upper eye and the ear. Thinner fur in this area in cats as they age is normal and is called preauricular alopecia or facial alopecia.

When does facial alopecia start in cats?

Cats typically start to experience facial alopecia in the area between their ears and eyes when they are between 14 to 20 months old. It is a normal process for adult cats to have thinning fur develop between their eyes and ears.

Is facial alopecia more common in black cats?

While preauricular alopecia is commons in all types of cats, it tends to be the most notable in darker fur colored cats because of the contrast between the fur and underlying skin.

The sparse fur between the eyes and ears is also more obvious is shorthair cats compared to longhair cats.

The head of a black cat with green eyes lying on a medium dark wooden table.
Facial alopecia in an eight-year old black cat. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Facial alopecia is also more evident when looking at a cat’s face from the side.

These side by side photos of a two-year old torbie show how this female’s cat preauricular alopecia is starting to emerge. The frontal view of the torbie cat makes the fur between her eyes and ears look full. The side view shows how the fire between her eyes and ears is starting to thin.

A side by side view showing the side profile of a torbie cat and the full face view of the cat.
Facial alopecia is more obvious when looking at the side profile (left) compared to when the cat is facing you (right). Photos: Caitlin Dempsey.

When is facial alopecia a problem in cats?

If your cat is starting to experience fur loss in other areas of their face or body, it could indicate a health issue.

Excessive grooming caused by stress, anxiety, or an underlying health issues can result in balding on a cat. Infections such as ringworm, a fungal infection, can also result in the loss of fur in spots.

Allergies, respiratory illnesses, nutritional deficiencies, cancer, and inflammation are other ailments that can lead to hair loss.

If you are concerned about your cat’s hair loss, please consult your veterinarian.

References

Ashley, P. (2019). Non‐endocrine alopecia. Clinical Atlas of Canine and Feline Dermatology, 309-322.

Moriello, K. A. (2018, August 23). Hair loss (Alopecia) in cats – Cat owners – Merck veterinary manual. Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/skin-disorders-of-cats/hair-loss-alopecia-in-cats

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