If you own a cat, you’ll notice that she licks herself frequently. Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves by licking, so this behavior in and of itself isn’t abnormal. But it’s possible for a cat to lick herself too much—this is known in the veterinary world as overgrooming. Read on to find out more from your local veterinarian.
What Counts as Overgrooming?
Since cats spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, it’s often 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.
You might notice Fluffy licking and chewing 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 plus 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.
What’s the Cause?
There are many possible causes of overgrooming in cats. Cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical or behavioral. 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.
A behavioral-based case of overgrooming 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. It’s hard to believe considering your cat’s pampered life, we know, but it’s not uncommon!
How is Overgrooming Treated?
If a medical issue is found to be 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 can be prescribed. Work closely with your veterinarian to get your cat back to full health so the overgrooming ceases.
When a cat is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it’s helpful to determine the cause. Fluffy might be stressed 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, and 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!