If you have a kitty, you’ll probably notice that she licks herself frequently. Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves this way. 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 your local veterinarian.
What Counts as Overgrooming?
Did you know that kitties spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves? It can be 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 your cat licking and chewing intently at a particular area, or you may spot significant hair loss or 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 an overgrooming kitty 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. These cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical and behavioral. Medical cases are caused by some kind of underlying medical problem, such as allergies, parasitic infestation, skin infection, physical injury, or even neurological conditions.
A behavioral-based case of overgrooming, on the other paw, is caused by something like stress and anxiety. That’s right, Fluffy 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 causing your cat’s excessive licking, that problem must be dealt with before the overgrooming will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, antibiotics can be prescribed. You’ll want to work closely with your veterinarian to get Fluffy feeling better again.
When a kitty is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it’s helpful to determine the root cause. Fluffy might be stressed because of a recent move, a change in the household like a new pet, schedule disruptions, or even a dirty litter box. The help of a professional feline behaviorist might be needed. 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!