Cats are known for being clean creatures who lick their fur to keep it neat and free of dirt at all times. However, some owners might notice their feline friend grooming a little too excessively. Here, our Cumming vets share some reasons why cats overgroom and how you can stop this behavior from continuing.
Overgrooming in Cats
Cats are notoriously clean creatures who enjoy tending to their coats. However, there is such a thing as overgrooming, and there are health issues that can cause it.
When cats lick themselves, natural neurotransmitters (endorphins) made by the brain get released. These endorphins make the self-grooming sensation feel comforting to your cat. Therefore, if your kitty is stressed, they may try to comfort themselves by grooming.
If you catch your kitty overgrooming, don't punish them, this will only make your cat feel more stressed and could make the issue worse.
Causes of Overgrooming in Cats
Cats may overgroom for both physiological and medical reasons. When a physiological issue such as stress is causing a cat's overgrooming, it is called psychogenic alopecia.
- Living in a loud and chaotic household
- The rearrangement of furniture
- A family member moving away
- Being gone for longer hours
- Kitty litter being moved
- A new animal in the home
- A new environment (moving homes)
- A death in the family
Your kitty may also be overgrooming for medical reasons such as:
- A wound on their skin
- Trying to relieve an itch
- Bacterial or fungal infections
Try to evaluate any changes you have made to your cat's food or environment to determine why they may be overgrooming. If you think their increase in grooming is the result of an allergy, contact your vet or a veterinary dermatologist who will be able to test your cat for any allergies.
Signs of Cat Overgrooming
If your cat is excessively grooming, you will notice a stripe or line that resembles a cat buzzcut on your cat's body. However, these overgrooming marks are most often found on a cat's belly, at the base of their tail, on the foreleg, and inner thigh. If your cat's grooming habit is serious, its skin may also be sore, red, or/and damaged.
Stopping Your Cat From Overgrooming
If you notice your cat overgrooming, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your vet so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions.
At your cat's appointment, your vet may conduct a series of tests to find the source of your pet's grooming, such as a complete physical examination, a skin biopsy, or other laboratory tests. The determined treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your cat's condition.
You should also know that the treatments for psychogenic alopecia aren't always permanent. Your cat's overgrooming habits could resurface at any time, this could be a sign that your kitty is stressed again.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.