Sick stray cat - any clues?

I the courtyard of my apartment, we have three strays who’ve been living with us for years. They’ve been caught and brought to the vet for fixing and shots, and a few of my neighbors feed them.

This morning I noticed a very large chunk of fur out on the grass (I really thought it was one of their tails!), and then this afternoon, I found out who’s fur it was. Poor thing looks like a horror show, and doesn’t seem to comfortable. I called my neighbor who said she’d noticed the problem in the past weeks, and that it’s just getting worse.

The cat’s fur is clumping, and then falling off in great wads. My neighbor wants to try to trap the cat, but it’s hard, because the three all stick together, and you’ll wind up with one of the others, most likely.

Anyway, here’s a picture. Does anyone have any idea what might cause this? (Not a great pic, hard to get the stray to pose. From the back, it looks like two wings sprouting out.)



Hi. I have had (been owned by) a number of long haired cats in the past and I think I recognise this. I think it’s just natural de-furrification of large dredlocked pieces.

My cat produced a luck dip litter with a suprise kitten who turned out to be a cross of a persian and something else which was quite hairy. William wasn’t keen on being brushed - at all - so until the last 5 years of his life we used to have a vet sedate him bi-annually to clip the worst dreds off. When he got too old for sedation (he lasted almost 25 years and died just last year) my Dad, gf & I used to work the worst dreds individually with some scissors and gentle teasing. But occasionally I’d wake up and find a big lump of William fur.

IMO, the key was whether it had “shorn” itself off, or whether it was torn. I never found any attached skin, or any marks on his flesh where these were. To my mind (and my vet never said otherwise) they were natural drop/pull-offs and didn’t cause him any harm. In fact, you could see him working at the ones which I presumed annoyed him most.

If you get a chance to stroke the (very lovely) cat, you might be able to feel lumps of very dense fur which feels almost cardboard like - possibly around the bald areas. If so, these are the larger dreds which will probably come off next time kitty feels like it.

I was concerned that it was the result of a fight, but the absence of skin wound convinced me it was natural shedding.

Plus, I’d just like to say thankyou to you for looking after the strays. I’ve always done the same and 2 years ago one of my closest cats disappeared into the blue. I leafletted, canvassed, hung posters, offered rewards and managed to get a half page ad in the local paper as well as an interview with my gf, all to no avail. I really hope that she’s out there somewhere, being looked after by somebody like you.


Tim, thanks so much. I certainly hope it’s only “natural de-furrification.”

I, too, thought it was a fight, but as close as I could get to him, he looked unharmed. I doubt I’ll ever get to pet him to check for clumps, but I’ll check the big hair pile tomorrow to look for skin. And - ick.

When I first moved into this apartment complex, there were close to a dozen strays living here. Some had to be put down, some were adopted out - we’ve only got the three left, and I feel like they’re our guardians, or mascots.

This is the stray that “adopted” me, made me her person. I don’t know how long she lived out in the courtyard, but she’s all mine now. We’ve been together for six years, and she has me thoroughly trained to do her bidding.


Best, Jen

Cats that are unable to groom (like from arthritis for example) will become a mass of mats. That very well could be what is going on. I would have the cat examined and possibly shaved. An outdoor matted cat will eventually get bad stuff going on at skin level. Maggots are a common problem to secondarily affect matted cats.

We had a stray cat who also adopted us who looked very much like the cat in the picture. When he was younger, this was never a problem, but as he got older he would often clump up. I thought it may have been like Vetbridge mentioned, his unability to groom certain places caused this to happen.

The good news was that when he did get the clumps off, he was so much happier. He looked hideous though going through the process, sometimes it took days for him to get a clump off and it would just flop around on him.

As he got older he also let us touch him more. In time he would let us approach him with the scissors and we could remove small clumps before they got bad.