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Is Your Cat Licking Herself Too Much?

December 1, 2020

If you own a cat, (or are owned by one) you’ll notice that your kitty licks herself frequently. Cats groom themselves this way, so this behavior in and of itself isn’t abnormal. But it’s possible for your feline pal to lick herself too much. This is known in the veterinary world as overgrooming. Read on to find out more from a local veterinarian.


What Counts as Overgrooming?

Kitties spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. Understandably, it can be hard to tell what might be considered overgrooming. You’ll need to look for additional signs of a problem aside from the licking itself.


You might notice Fluffy persistently 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, you could have a case of overgrooming on your hands. Contact 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 and behavioral. The medical cases are caused by some kind of underlying medical issue. Allergies, parasitic infestation, skin infection, physical injury, or even neurological conditions could be to blame.


Behavioral-based cases of overgrooming are caused by stress and anxiety. That’s right, your feline friend could be stressed out about something and taking her anxieties out on her own fur. This can be 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 the cause of your cat’s excessive licking, that must be dealt with before the overgrooming will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, antibiotics can be prescribed. You’ll need to work closely with your veterinarian to get your cat back to full health.


When a cat is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it will be most 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. Your vet can prescribe pheromones and anxiety medications if necessary. 


Learn more about overgrooming in cats by contacting your vet’s office. We’re here for you!

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