If you have a cat, you’ll notice that your pet licks herself frequently. Kitties spend a lot of time grooming themselves by licking, so this behavior in and of itself isn’t abnormal. But it’s possible for Fluffy to lick herself too much. This is known in the veterinary world as overgrooming. Read on to find out more from your local veterinarian.
Cats spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. It can be hard to tell what might be considered overgrooming. That’s why it’s important to look for additional signs of a problem aside from the licking itself.
Fluffy may lick and chew intently at a particular area, or you may spot significant hair loss or even bald patches around the body. If you’ve noticed these signs and/or more hairballs and loose fur lying around your home recently, you could have a case of kitty overgrooming on your hands. Contact your vet.
There are many possible causes of overgrooming in cats. However, these cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical and behavioral. Medical cases are caused by an underlying medical problem—allergies, parasitic infestation, skin infection, physical injury. Neurological conditions could be to blame.
A behavioral-based case of overgrooming would be caused by something like stress and anxiety. Fluffy could be stressed at home and taking her anxieties out on her own fur. Even pampered kitties can suffer from anxiety!
If a medical issue is the cause of your cat’s excessive licking, it must be dealt with before the overgrooming behavior will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, antibiotics may help. Your veterinarian can help to get your cat back to full health so the overgrooming ceases.
When cats overgroom because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, you’ll need to determine the cause. Fluffy might be stressed out because of a recent move, a change in the household like a new pet, or even a dirty litter box. The help of a professional feline behaviorist might be needed. Pheromones and anxiety medications may also be beneficial.
Learn more about overgrooming in cats by contacting your vet’s office. We’re here to help!