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Why is my elderly cat pulling her fur out?
It looks like she has hairballs and is pulling out hair. If her skin doesn't look smooth or even she may have a little bald spot, I'd recommend getting her to the vet immediately to be checked for parasites.
In addition, as a general rule of thumb, hairballs tend to be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea so be sure to look for these symptoms as well if they occur.
If your cat is pulling out her fur, it may be because she's experiencing pain. Make sure to be as gentle as possible while getting her to the vet.
Here are some basic steps to take when getting your cat to the vet:
Make sure the cat has her medication.
Make sure she has water in her bowl.
Make sure she has access to a litter box or at least a clean, dry, fresh spot in which she can make her waste.
If your cat has an allergy or a skin condition, make sure you have them checked by your veterinarian and treated accordingly.
Do not hold your cat. If your cat is very stressed, she may be more likely to try to bite you and/or may become a little bit more aggressive. Try to calm your cat down in the carrier, in your arms, or with a carrier that has a calming mechanism if possible.
Keep an eye on your cat.
If your cat is on the floor, you may want to place a blanket or small rug under her to prevent further damage to the floor.
If your cat is on your lap, you may want to lay a pillow or other small cushion to prevent her from scratching you.
Be patient. If your cat has had a traumatic experience in the past, the process of getting her to the vet can be very traumatic for her and may cause her to be more stressed than normal. Be sure to stay calm and talk to her soothingly.
Make sure your cat does not have access to other cats. Cats do not generally like other cats, and if they have access to other cats, they are more likely to try to chase them.
When taking your cat to the vet, be sure to let them know that your cat may have been bitten by another animal in the past.
Make sure to tell the vet about your cat's past health and behavioral issues and that you suspect she may be experiencing pain.
This is what happens in a case of mange or other skin disease - The cat's skin gets very thinned and the cat is pulling fur off from its own skin.
I can't say for sure what the cause is, but it is usually a symptom of some sort of skin disease, though in a case of severe illness (like this one) it can be a symptom of other diseases too.
There are a couple ways to treat this, depending on what the condition is and what the cat's symptoms are:
Cats with more mild symptoms will usually just need some TLC and a little help with the grooming process, which can help prevent the fur loss from occurring. If the cat is having a hard time cleaning herself, you could consider using a soft washcloth on the cat - this soft texture will help the cat feel less stressed.
A veterinarian can give the cat a medicated ointment or a shampoo to help treat the symptoms.
If the symptoms are severe, the vet might perform surgery to remove the fur-pulling section of the cat's skin. This usually involves an incision that looks like a fishtail, and removing the area of skin, and suturing the edges together. After that, a course of medications is usually given to keep the skin from healing up as fast.
If you think the cat is actually sick and not just grooming itself a lot, the most likely cause is mange or ringworm. If this is the case, then you will need to get the cat to a vet, as the condition can be quite serious if left untreated. The symptoms are similar to those listed by other answers - hair loss, a rash that looks like hairballs, and an aggressive and scratching behavior.
The most effective treatment for this condition is to