Cats are known for being meticulous groomers. These loving pets can spend up to 50 percent of their uptime licking their fur. Nevertheless, grooming for an extensive period might no longer be normal, especially when it gets to the point of hair loss, skin wounds, or ulceration. Overgrooming in cats is usually a sign of underlying psychological or medical issues. Hence, cat owners must know the signs of overgrooming and how to stop it.
Overgrooming or excessive grooming is when a cat spends a lot of time grooming itself obsessively. Excessive fur licking can result in hair loss, skin sores, or inflammation. In severe cases, the cat might start biting areas of the skin. Sometimes, you might witness your cat overgrooming or a patchy coat/damage to the skin. On other occasions, you might only see the signs of overgrooming, like clumps of hair on the furniture or behind the sofa.
There are two significant causes of overgrooming in cats. The first is behavioral – when the furry licks excessively to relieve its stress (psychogenic alopecia). The second cause is medical, with skin parasites and allergies being the main culprits. Skin parasites, like fleas, are one of the common causes of overgrooming in cats. If appropriately treated, the cat can stop this behavior within a week (in most cases). Other medical and environmental causes of this condition include:
The most common symptoms of overgrooming in cats are skin irritation and hair loss. The commonly affected areas are the legs, abdomen, chest, and flank, as they are easily reached areas. Other common signs of overgrooming include:
The first step to resolving your cat’s overgrooming issues is to visit the vet. The vet needs to examine the cat for any medical condition. If the overgrooming problem is caused by a medical condition, the vet will handle the treatment or recommend the best solution. A thorough physical examination, lab work, and skin biopsies can help the vet find medical reasons for this condition, which could include flea infestation, allergies, fungal or bacterial infections, ringworm, and skin mites.
However, if the vet rules out any medication condition and confirms psychologic alopecia, then you have to diagnose the underlying cause and resolve it. Identifying and getting rid of any potential cause would help reduce the action. If your cat is overgrooming due to boredom or increased stress levels, you can introduce a new cat to help keep them company or provide them with interactive toys. Other psychogenic alopecia treatments include:
Cat owners should not condone excessive grooming. This condition can worsen if not treated early. Hence, consult your vet once you notice the signs or see your cat grooming excessively.