Feline overgrooming: isolating 3 reasons
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It might be convenient to bracket cat overgrooming into three reasons (a) itchiness (b) pain (c) stress and anxiety.

Bone Bone the celebrity cat is stressed

He is stressed because is he overgrooming his belly so much he has removed the fur.

A cat who licks and therefore is overgrowing all over is probably trying to reduce itchiness on the skin. This might be due to an allergy (perhaps food or environmental and hard to resolve, I think) or a skin problem, perhaps a dermatological problem (e.g. flea bite allergy) or skin parasite.

A cat who licks a specific area might be trying to alleviate pain in that area. This may apply to a leg or paw which has been injured in a fall or perhaps pain in the abdomen causing the cat to lick his belly.

Both the above might need veterinary intervention.

Thirdly, a cat might persistently groom an easy to reach place causing the fur to disappear exposing the skin. This is likely to be due to anxiety caused by stress. Self-grooming is calming for a cat.

The easiest to reach area for a cat to groom, for this reason, is the belly and the inside of the thighs of the hind legs.

In this third group the owner has to identify the cause of the stress and eliminate or reduce it if possible. It will usually be to do with territory or perhaps bullying in a multi-cat home. The latter is a threat from within the home and the former might be from outside the home e.g. cats outside which the inside cat can see and perceives as a threat.

The ‘cure’ to stress induced overgrooming is to make the cat’s environment more suited for a cat and to allow the cat to more often and more easily express his natural behavior.

If you see overgrowing and you have isolated the cause to be stress, playing with a favourite toy may stop it. It is a way of redirecting your cat away from self-mutilation which is what stress induced grooming is.

Being around more and engaging in good routines with your cat will reassure him too.

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Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

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Feline overgrooming: isolating 3 reasons — 2 Comments

  1. Over-grooming is yet another typical counter- productive aspect of the cat fancy and cat shows. To get the best results at a cat show a cat has to have an immaculate squeaky clean appearance which frankly has nothing to do with whether a cat conforms to the standard or not. This is referred-to as “condition” which only accounts for 5 points, but in reality accounts for much more. When judges see a cat which may be perfect in all other aspects but is a bit grubby, it is automatically put it into a lower category. Removing all of the natural protective oils from a cat’s coat to produce an attractive fluffy appearance is typical of the artificial requirements of the car fancy, and more to do with aesthetics rather than matters of importance.

  2. Such a good article! Such a good take on the problem. You really covered it and I can’t think of anything to add. As good as if not better than I’d find anywhere else. Fine work as usual sir.

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