If you own a cat, you’ve probably noticed that she licks herself frequently. Cats are very dedicated to their beauty regimes, 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 a local veterinarian.
Since these furry little divas spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, it’s often hard to tell what might be considered overgrooming. The key is to look for additional signs of a problem, aside from the licking itself.
What would you look for? 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 and/or more hairballs and loose fur lying around your home recently, you could have an overgrooming kitty on your hands.
Overgrooming cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical and behavioral. Medical overgrooming 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.
With a behavioral-based case, the overgrooming is caused by something like stress and anxiety. That’s right, your feline friend could be stressed about something and taking her anxieties out on her own fur.
If you know or suspect that your cat is overgrooming, take her to the vet right away. If a medical issue is behind Fluffy’s excessive licking, that must be dealt with before the overgrooming behavior will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, your vet may prescribe antibiotics or other medications.
If Fluffy is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it’s helpful to determine the cause. Your kitty might be stressed because of a recent move, a change in the household, or even a dirty litter box. Pay lots of attention to your cat, and make sure that she feels loved and safe. Pheromones and anxiety medications may help.
Learn more about overgrooming in cats by contacting your vet’s office. We’re here for you!