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Cat Overgrooming: Why Cats Overgroom & How You Can Stop It

Cats may overgroom for psychological or medical reasons. Today, our vets in Richmond will explain why cats are overgroomed and provide solutions to stop their excessive grooming.

Overgrooming in Cats

Cats engage in overgrooming when they dedicate much time to grooming themselves. Excessive grooming can result in fur loss and skin sores.

When cats lick themselves, the brain releases natural neurotransmitters known as endorphins. These endorphins create a comforting sensation for your cat during self-grooming. Consequently, if your cat is stressed, they may attempt to alleviate their stress by grooming.

Many cat owners claim not to observe their cats excessively grooming. This may be attributed to the cats feeling at ease in their owners' presence, eliminating the need for obsessive grooming. However, when owners leave the room, cats may resume grooming.

If you notice your cat overgrooming, refrain from punishing them. Such actions can heighten your cat's stress levels and exacerbate the issue.

Causes of Overgrooming in Cats

Cats may overgroom due to both physiological and medical reasons. When stress induces a cat's overgrooming, it is termed psychogenic alopecia.

Stress stands out as the primary cause of overgrooming in cats. Chronic stress, often stemming from diverse stressors such as a permanent alteration in your cat's environment and routine, is most likely responsible for psychogenic alopecia. Other factors triggering your cat's excessive grooming may include:

  • Being in a chaotic household
  • The rearrangement of furniture
  • A family member is moving away
  • Being gone for longer hours
  • Kitty litter being moved
  • A new animal in the home
  • Moving to a new home
  • A death in the family

Your kitty may also be overgrooming for medical reasons such as:

  • Allergies
  • A wound on their skin
  • Trying to relieve an itch
  • Ringworm
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Bacterial or fungal infections

Evaluate any changes you have made to your cat's food or environment to determine why they may be overgrooming. If you think their increase in grooming results from an allergy, contact your vet or a veterinary dermatologist who can test your cat for any allergies.

Signs of Cat Overgrooming

If your cat grooms excessively, you'll notice a stripe or line that resembles a cat buzzcut on its body. However, these overgrooming marks usually appear on the belly, at the base of the tail, foreleg, and inner thigh. Sore, red, and/or damaged skin may result from serious grooming habits.

Stopping Your Cat From Overgrooming

If you observe your cat engaging in overgrooming, schedule an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

During the appointment, your vet may conduct various tests, including a complete physical examination, a skin biopsy, or other laboratory tests, to identify the cause of your pet's grooming behavior. The prescribed treatment will be tailored to your pet's specific condition.

While awaiting the appointment, assess if there are any factors causing stress to your cat and eliminate them. Upon identifying the stressor, remove it from your cat's environment, potentially leading to a gradual reduction in excessive grooming. Seek advice from your veterinarian on eradicating the source of your cat's stress.

In cases where a medical diagnosis is challenging, your vet may recommend anti-anxiety drug therapy to curb your cat's excessive licking. Your cat may require an extended period of this medication to manage stress effectively. Adhere closely to your vet's instructions, and anticipate that patience and time will be needed for the treatment to take effect.

It's crucial to note that treatments for psychogenic alopecia may not offer permanent solutions. If your cat resumes overgrooming, it could indicate a recurrence of stress, requiring attention and intervention.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your cat been overgrooming? Contact our Richmond vets today to schedule an appointment for your kitty.

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