Categories: Cat Healthhair loss

Cat Licking Fur Off Lower Belly

When a cat licks the fur of her lower belly because she grooms a lot it is almost certainly going to be psychogenic alopecia which is compulsive self grooming rather than a hormone deficiency causing a loss of hair. Grooming is often a response to stress by cat. Stress might be caused by almost anything which changes the environment and/or a cat’s routine such as adding a new pet or even changing the furniture and furnishings (i.e. removing the carpet). Of course, moving home is another example. Abyssinian, Siamese, Burmese and Himalayan pedigree cats are apparently predisposed to psychogenic alopecia.

Some people refer to this condition as “fur-mowing”. I guess it is like that. The underlying cause needs to be investigated. In a way psychogenic alopecia is a reminder to us about the domestic cat’s sensitivity to his/her environment.

The photo above comes from Lorelle on WordPress a blog about WordPress and the internet (a good blog by the way). The tabby cat’s caretaker is the blogger Lorelle, I understand. She confirms in her blog that the reason for the bald patch was “psychological”, which supports what is stated on this page.

The word “alopecia” refers to balding or hair loss. Feline endocrine alopecia is a form of balding most commonly seen in neutered male cats and spayed middle aged females. It is thought to be due to a hormone deficiency but as mentioned in the first paragraph the cause is probably not a hormone deficiency but stress resulting in over-grooming by the cat.

For a cat, grooming is a reassuring activity which relieves stress. If and when a cat grooms too much it can remove the hair entirely right down to the skin and even start scratching the skin. One of the easiest places for a cat to groom is the lower belly which is why there is more likely to be balding in that area than elsewhere on the body.

The obvious and simple way to confirm whether a cat is licking fur off her lower belly due stress is to observe the cat. A good cat owner will recognize changes in behavior and recognize over grooming. The area on the body where over-grooming takes place might not just be the lower belly but areas around that place.

The cure is to remove the cause of the stress and it is up to the cat owner to figure out what is causing it.  Any changes that have taken place should be noted down and the owner should ask themselves whether they could be the cause and whether they can remove those changes, meaning revert back to the way it was before.

Psychogenic diseases are physical illnesses that originate in emotional or mental stresses

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Sounds like my cat. All of a sudden she got to licking and licking and it is bald. The licking on her left leg scared me because it’s pink and if she licks more it’ll be awful. I’ll try Apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp to a cut of water. Very helpful.

  • This is a very helpful site. I am worrying myself silly over my Abyssinian cat who has a very bare belly. I inherited him from my recently deceased uncle. The vet suggested a bucket collar or amitriptyline and I don't want to use either of these methods. He seems well in himself apart from this baldness and being timid.

    • Hi Avril. Thanks. Yes, it sounds like a classic case of anxiety. I am sure you are doing it but try and make his life as calm as possible. Plenty of reassurances, great food, and a place to hide. This is important. I agree with you that drugs are not a good idea. I'd rather he was bald on his belly than taking anti-anxiety pills. I don't know how long he has been with you. The change of location may be a factor in his anxiety. This will go away in time as he acclimatises. Good luck to you both.

      • Hi Michael,
        Thank you for your reassuring reply. Eugene has been with me for 6 months now and my gut instinct is that there has been too much upset and upheaval during that time and before my uncle died. Thank you so much. Kind regards, Avril

  • Lili___Wow-what a relief to find someone out there who thinks maybe treating the cause naturally might work like a charm !
    MaMa Theo-my mother cat who is 11-yrs old developed 'alopecia' after I had her spayed and her hormonal changes caused weight gain. also-her underbelly was touching the highly scented litter when she used her box and irritating an already undetected by me fungal infection on her tummy she couldn't lick enough. This was also around the time early on when she was one of the victims suffering from a lowered immune system and twitching/seizures from the Advantage and Front-line I used in the past on my poor cats.

    To make a long story longer, I use "Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar" in her bath 1-to 2 cups >and after 5-treatments her itching and excessive licking on her underbelly have gone away !! I changed the litter to 85% scent/perfume free and her fur has evened out and shows no symptoms of fungus or irritation.
    Naturally it can re-occur so I keep [BACV] in the bathroom and kitchen. P.s.__will clear up yeast/fungal infections in humans rather quickly.
    Eva say's__

  • My cat would literally pull chunks of hair out. Then she would chew down to her bone. Vet thought allergies, stress etc. I did some research and discovered ringworm. Ringworm is NOT a worm infestation. Ringworm IS A FUNGAL infection. I am done with vets and decided to treat her natural. I used 1 tablespoon APPLE CIDAR VINEGAR to 1 cup warm water. I would dip her hind legs in the mixture and then blot other areas with paper towel saturated in the cider mixture. Of course I did not apply to the open wound areas. Her hair is beginning to grow back but most importantly she is no longer gnawing at her hind legs. You can increase cider vinegar to even equal parts water. I apply several times a day and she tolerates it perfectly; in fact, she' getting to enjoy her 'spa' treatment. The alopecia has nearly cleared just one week! Also works as great flea repellant. Give it a is not toxic to kitties.

    • Thanks for sharing Lili. Your comment is useful because ringworm is not uncommon and because it itches it causes the cat to attack the area. Your treatment is interesting and I may do a page on this as conventional treatments for ringworm are lengthy and not very pleasant.

  • There are several reasons for hair loss on a cat. Anxiety issues are right up there but many cats I've seen have been sensitive to the laundry soap, floor cleaners or other household solvents. A third big reason for hair loss is due to parasites either fleas, lice or ringworm.

  • Sometimes stress is unavoidable, our Jozef licked the fur off his inside back legs after a spate of bereavements.
    A cat doing this needs lots of tlc and attention and it grows back ok.

    • Ruth,
      Please read my story below. I tried everything for my kitty. Worked for my kitty was 1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar to 1 cup warm water. Saturate areas, as long as no open wounds, and hair is growing back after 1 week. Turns out to be a fungal infection...ringworm, apply several times a day. She no longer gnaws, itches or pulls her hair out. Hope it helps. Oh yes the mixture is not toxic to cats. You can also adjust ratio to even parts. Good luck and hope this helps...Lili

    • Absolutely agree. Charlie was stressed and he licked the fur of his belly and inside of his hind legs. I forget how I calmed him down. It may have been a reaction to the loss of my mother (she died) his former caretaker, and settling into a new home. That is more than enough to stress a cat to over-groom. Cats are sensitive, more so than a lot of people realize I believe.

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