Cats are notoriously clean creatures that prefer to keep their coats pristine. However, there is such a thing as too much grooming. Our Santa Clarita vets explain below the potentially harmful reasons your cat could be overgrooming, and how you can help stop it.
What is over-grooming in cats?
It is considered over-grooming when your feline friend spend an abnormally large potion of time grooming itself. Over-grooming can result in patches of hair loss, skin sores, and even excessive vomiting, which could all be unpleasant and painful experiencing for your cat.
When a cat licks itself, endorphins are released in their brain. These endorphins are the chemicals that make the sensation of self-grooming feel comforting. This is why cats tend to groom themselves when they are stressed or angry. Particularly anxious cats can start to overgroom, which leads to the aforementioned health issues.
On average, cats spend up to 50% of their day grooming. Below, our Santa Clarita vets detail how you can recognize when your cat's grooming is excessive, not healthy.
Why do cats over-groom?
There are many different reasons why your cat might be over-grooming itself but to better help your cat you will need to understand why they are over-grooming.
Allergy or Infection
Irritated skin can be caused by an infection, an allergy to foods, parasites, or environmental elements. Your cat’s fur-loss pattern may even be a sign of the source of the problem, for example:
- If it is a flea allergy, you may notice your cat over-grooming at the base of the tail, where an irritation has formed.
- If your cat has ear mites, you might notice hair loss and scabs on the neck and ears.
- If your cat has an allergic reaction to pollen, you will notice your cat excessively chewing on the paw pads.
Stress or Boredom
Potential causes of stress in your cat could include:
- If you have added a new pet or human to the family.
- Moving/moved to a new home.
- Rearranging the furniture.
- Moving the litter box to another location.
- Living in a chaotic household, the holiday season can be a stressful time for pets.
- Any change in their food. Changing brands can upset your cat emotional and digestively.
Compulsive grooming is often triggered by a change in the cat's environment or home life.
Another reason your cat could be over-grooming is because they are in pain. If your cat is in pain your may notice them licking a certain area of their body repeated. If you notice this, contact your Santa Clarita vets to make an appointment today.
How to stop cat over-grooming?
There are ways to stop your cat from over-grooming but the best thing to do is to consult with your Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic vet to rule out any medical causes. If your cat is in pain, your vet can determine what’s causing it and how to manage the pain.
Another way to stop your over-grooming due to infection is to keep your cat on flea medication year-round to help with flea allergies and ear mites.
Once your cat has been cleared by their vet, there are things that can be done at home to stop your cat from over-grooming.
You can start by maintaining your cats routine. If something has happened to mess up your cats daily routine, its important to get them back on a schedule. Cats love routine so this will create a comfortable environment for them.
You may also want to talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication if you notice your cat is not calming down. There are prescription medications available as well as over the counter sprays and wall plug-ins.