Is My Cat Overgrooming? Here’s How To Tell

Plus how to stop your cat’s overgrooming.

cat overgrooming

It’s completely normal for your cat to groom himself — in fact, he probably does it a lot. But sometimes you might wonder if your cat’s grooming a little too much.

That’s called overgrooming, and there are a bunch of reasons why your cat’s self-care might become a bit excessive.

We spoke with Dr. Amy Learn, a veterinarian at Animal Behavior Wellness Center in Richmond, Virginia, to find out everything you need to know about cat overgrooming.

What causes a cat to overgroom?

There are a few things that could cause your cat to overgroom.

According to Dr. Learn, pain and allergies are often the main reasons why cats overgroom. Certain parasites, like fleas or mites, can also make your cat groom excessively.

Anxiety is another cause of overgrooming.

“If all medical causes of excessive grooming have been ruled out, then the cause may be related to stress or chronically becomes a compulsive disorder,” Dr. Learn told The Dodo.

Common stress triggers for cats include:

  • Routine changes
  • Vet visits
  • Loud noises
  • New people or animals
  • Moving

How to tell if a cat is overgrooming

You can tell if your cat’s overgrooming from signs like:

  • Bald patches on limbs or abdomen
  • Excessive hair balls
  • Grooming interrupting other activities
  • Scratching

The reason your cat loses hair when he’s overgrooming is because of the way his tongue is.

“The intricate spines on the tongue pull loose hair out,” Dr. Learn said. “When excessive grooming occurs, all the hair can be removed.”

According to Dr. Learn, the most common spots your cat will lick when he’s overgrooming are the inner thigh and the abdomen.

If you spot signs of overgrooming, call your vet because they can figure out if it’s from stress or an underlying medical condition.

How to stop your cat from overgrooming

To stop your cat from overgrooming, you have to first figure out what’s causing this behavior in the first place.

If it’s the result of a medical condition, treating that condition should get your cat to stop grooming excessively. For allergies that can mean an antihistamine, and for fleas that can be specific flea medication. For pain, your vet will have to identify the cause and treat it to alleviate his pain, ultimately putting a stop to his overgrooming.

And if your cat’s overgrooming because he’s stressed about something, you should remove that stressor from his environment, if you can. If your cat’s triggered by something you can’t change, like a new home or family member, your vet might prescribe anxiety medication.

Now that you know how to spot the signs that your cat’s overgrooming, you and your vet can work to treat what’s causing it and get his grooming habits under control.

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