Cats spend too much time grooming themselves when they’re awake. They like themselves clean and also can be seen grooming other pets in the home including dogs. Sometimes their licking and grooming behavior seems more than usual but it’s not. So, when exactly you can say your cat is overgrooming? You might’ve many questions and we have the answers.
When To Say Your Cat Is Overgrooming
When you observe your cat is indulged in licking himself abnormally, you can say he’s overgrooming. However, what you see cannot always decide whether your cat is overgrooming or not. The most common reason for overgrooming is your cat’s stress. When you’re around they feel comfortable. But when you’re not they start licking themselves to make themselves comfortable and won’t be seen grooming excessively.
So how exactly can you identify overgrooming? This behavior can be understood by the fact that a cat’s body releases endorphin, a feel-happy neurotransmitter when a cat licks her skin. That said, when you are around, your cat feels safe and does not feel the need to lick but as soon as you’re gone, your cat starts licking herself excessively.
The catch is, your cat will spots where there’s no hair or sores on the skin. When you observe this, you can say that your cat is overgrooming.
Why Do Cats Overgroom?
There are two main reasons of overgrooming. One, cats start licking themselves excessively for calming and stress-relieving which is also known as psychogenic alopecia. Second is your cat has medical conditions like skin allergies and parasitic infestation.
Ethan from Catlovesbest says, “Psychogenic alopecia is usually chronic and caused by different stressors in your cat’s environment. Generally, changes, even though they’re meager or negligible to you, can stress out your cat.”
Here are some of the most common reasons that trigger this behavior in them: Demise of a person or the absence of that person at your home, vacation, lesser cat-human interaction, new feline member or other cats already present in the house, moving to a new place, changing the furniture, changing the place of litter boxes, inadequate enrichment, neighborhood cats, etc.
In short, there might be so many changes that can cause your cat overgrooming. That being said, you should look for your cat’s response to even a smaller change in their environment. On the other hand, skin allergies and the presence of parasites cause itching and irritation and your cat licks it quite often, hence, overgrooming.
How Can You Stop Overgrooming?
The most common place you can see affected is your cat’s foreleg, belly, or an inner thigh due to overgrooming. You will see a stripe or a line of a short length of stubble in the affected area. When this behavior becomes intense, the skin can also get damaged and sore. Sometimes it also looks like tiny wounds.
Before you start treating your kitty, please consult with your vet for the diagnosis. If your cat has some medical issues, your vet will start the treatment. In this case, the vet may suggest putting on a cone collar until the symptoms ease up. The medication ought to cure any allergies and remove parasites within a few weeks.
But if it’s not the medical condition, your cat is likely suffering from psychogenic alopecia. While the veterinarian diagnoses the problem, you should list down all the changes you made in your cat’s environment. Then start with reversing changes that you think can be the key stressors. If those changes are reversed, your cat might stop grooming excessively soon.
Here are some tips for you to deal with changes.
- If you’re bringing a new cat in, introduce it with your cat gradually. Sometimes, even confident cats may manifest hidden stress that leads to excessive licking. Moreover, try to solve all cat litter problems as they can stress your cat a lot.
- In the case of the absence of a family member, get their unwashed shirt and put it out sealed in a ziplock bag. The scent of that person present in the shirt will calm your cat and alleviate stress related to the absence.
- Play with your cat. If you have moved into a new house, it is unlikely you would be able to reverse this change. All you can do is to get your cat acclimatized in his new kingdom. Enrich your house with cat furniture and play activities. A human-cat interaction and active play will make your cat calm.
- One more idea is to use cat pheromones. There are so many available in the market. Ask your vet what product would be the best to reduce stress in the situation.
- If you have changed the positions of your cat’s litter boxes, you should place them back as they were. Cats are highly territorial and they spray to mark their territory. Taking that into consideration, litter boxes are socially important to them and you should not change the positions of them unless you have no other choice.
If your cat has some medical conditions, your vet will run some physical tests and diagnose the causes. Most likely your vet will prescribe anti-anxiety medication. You should follow all the instructions from your vet strictly and carefully. Once the cause is cured, your cat will stop licking itself.
But if your cat is suffering from psychogenic alopecia, keep in mind that this condition is chronic and stress can return. That said, keep a close eye on the behavior difference in your cat when there are changes made in your kitty’s environment. I have covered all the important information on cat overgrooming. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comment section below.