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Cat Overgrooming - Why They Do It & How To Stop It

Cat Overgrooming - Why They Do It & How To Stop It

Cats may overgroom for various reasons. Our veterinarians at Meadow Vista will explain why and how to prevent it.

Cat Grooming vs Overgrooming

  • Overgrooming occurs when cats excessively groom themselves, leading to fur loss and skin sores.
  • Cats release natural endorphins when they groom themselves, which can be comforting and help relieve stress.
  • Cats may not overgroom in the presence of their owners but may start when alone.
  • Punishing your cat for overgrooming can increase its stress levels and worsen the issue.

Why Overgrooming Occurs

Cats may overgroom for both physiological and medical reasons. When a psychological issue such as stress is causing a cat's overgrooming, it is called psychogenic alopecia. 

Stress is the most common cause of overgrooming in cats. The type of stress that results in psychogenic alopecia is most likely chronic and caused by various stressors like a permanent change in your cat's environment and routine. Other stressors that could be triggering your cat's excessive grooming include:

  • Being in a chaotic household
  • The rearrangement of furniture
  • A family member moving away or 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:

  • Trying to relieve an itch
  • An allergy to their food, fleas, or something in their environment
  • A wound on their skin 
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Ringworm
  • Hyperthyroidism

Try to 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 will be able to test your cat for any allergies.

Signs of Overgrooming in Cats

Excessive grooming in cats can result in noticeable buzzcut-like marks on the body, typically found on the belly, base of the tail, foreleg, and inner thigh. The skin may be sore, red, or damaged in severe cases.

How To Stop Your Cat From Overgrooming

If your cat is overgrooming, make an appointment with your vet to rule out any medical conditions. Your vet may conduct tests to determine the cause of your cat's grooming and prescribe treatment accordingly.

While waiting for the appointment, try to identify and eliminate any stressors that may be causing your cat's anxiety. Your vet can offer advice on how to do this effectively.

If a medical diagnosis cannot be made, anti-anxiety drug therapy may be prescribed by your vet. This treatment may need to be continued long-term to help your cat manage their stress, and it is important to follow your vet's instructions carefully.

It's important to note that treatments for psychogenic alopecia may not be permanent, and your cat's overgrooming may reoccur if they become stressed again.

Professional Grooming to Soothe Your Cat's Skin

Having your cat groomed professionally may help to soothe your cat's skin and eliminate or reduce the problem of cat overgrooming. Our professional groomers are trained to handle cats of different coat types and temperaments and have a range of products to help soothe skin problems and leave your cat's coat looking great. 

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.

Is your kitty grooming excessively? Contact Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic today to book an appointment and learn more about how to stop your cat from overgrooming.

New Patients Welcome

Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients including dogs, cats and large animals. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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