If you own a cat, (or are owned by one) you’ll notice that Fluffy licks herself frequently. Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, so this behavior in and of itself isn’t abnormal. But it’s possible for a kitty to lick herself too much—this is known in the veterinary world as overgrooming. Read on to learn more.
Kitties spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. Fluffy is diligent about keeping up on her beauty care! It’s often hard to tell what might be considered overgrooming. That’s why it’s important for you to look for additional signs of a problem, aside from just the licking itself.
You might notice Fluffy licking and chewing intently at a particular area. Or, you may spot significant hair loss or even bald patches. If you’ve noticed these signs, and/or more hairballs and loose fur lying around your home recently, you could have a case of overgrooming on your hands. It’s time to check in with your vet.
There are many possible causes of overgrooming in our feline patients. Cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical or behavioral. As the name suggests, medical cases are caused by some kind of underlying medical problem. Allergies, parasitic infestation, skin infection, physical injury, or even neurological conditions could be to blame here.
A behavioral-based case of overgrooming, on the other paw, is caused by something like stress and anxiety. That’s right, your feline friend could be stressed at home and taking her anxieties out on her own fur. Even pampered pets are prone to this!
If a medical issue is behind Fluffy’s excessive licking, it must be dealt with before the overgrooming behavior will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, antibiotics can be prescribed. Work closely with your veterinarian to address and correct the issue, and get your pet purring again.
When a kitty is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it’s helpful to determine the exact cause. Fluffy might be upset 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. Kitty pheromones and anxiety medications can be prescribed if necessary.
Learn more about overgrooming in cats by contacting your vet’s office. We’re here for you!