Cats naturally groom themselves, but how can you recognize excessive grooming? Our Pittsboro veterinarians will explain overgrooming in cats, its reasons, and prevention tips.
What is over-grooming in cats?
Overgrooming occurs when a cat spends too much time grooming, causing hair loss and skin sores, which can be distressing for them.
Licking releases endorphins, which are "feel good" brain chemicals that make self-grooming comforting. Cats may groom excessively to self-soothe when stressed, angry, or upset.
While cats typically groom for up to 50% of their day, excessive licking, biting, chewing, or scratching could indicate a problem with their grooming habits.
Why do cats over-groom?
There are many different reasons why your cat might be over-grooming itself, but to better help your cat, you will need to understand why they are over-grooming.
Allergy or Infection
An infection or an allergy can cause irritated skin to foods, parasites, or environmental elements. Your cat’s fur-loss pattern may even be a sign of the source of the problem, for example:
- If it is a flea allergy, you may notice your cat over-grooming at the base of the tail, where an irritation has formed.
- If your cat has ear mites, you might notice hair loss and scabs on the neck and ears.
- If your cat has an allergic reaction to pollen, you will notice your cat excessively chewing on the paw pads.
Stress or Boredom
Your cat can become stressed or bored for several reasons. Some things that could potentially stress your cat out are:
- If you have added a new pet or human to the family.
- Moving/moved to a new home.
- Rearranging the furniture.
- Moving the litter box to another location.
- Living in a chaotic household, the holiday season can be stressful for pets.
- Any change in their food. Changing brands can upset your cat emotionally and digestively.
Compulsive grooming, known as psychogenic alopecia, is generally triggered by a change in your cat’s daily routine or environment. Cats are very observant and may even feed off of our stress levels.
Another reason your cat could be overgrooming is that they are in pain. If your cat is in pain, your may notice them licking a certain area of their body repeatedly. If you notice this, contact your Pittsboro vets to make an appointment today.
How to stop cat over-grooming?
There are ways to stop your cat from over-grooming, but the best thing is to consult your Hope Crossing Animal Hospital vet to rule out any medical causes. If your cat is in pain, your vet can determine what’s causing it and how to manage the pain.
Another way to stop your over-grooming due to infection is to keep your cat on flea medication year-round to help with flea allergies and ear mites.
Once your cat has been cleared by their vet, there are things that can be done at home to stop your cat from over-grooming.
You can start by maintaining your cat's routine. If something has happened to mess up your cat's daily routine, it's important to get them back on a schedule. Cats love routine, so this will create a comfortable environment for them.
You also should provide mental and physical stimulation. You can try new toys or scratching posts for your cat to help distract them from over-grooming.
You may also want to talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication if you notice your cat is not calming down. There are prescription medications available, as well as over-the-counter sprays and wall plug-ins.
If you have noticed your cat overgrooming, contact your Hope Crossing Animal Hospital vets can help determine why and help resolve the issue.