Excessive grooming in cats
Posted on April 27 2018
Excessive grooming in cats, refers to any behavior that goes beyond the normal grooming with which they give 'maintenance' to their fur.
If your cat is licking excessively, you will notice areas with broken hair, areas with scant hair and even areas without fur. It is also possible that you will find damage to the underlying skin. In extreme cases, the cat can chew or bite the legs or tail causing injuries that require, in the case of the tail, a partial amputation. An affected cat can lick, chew, bite or tear out areas of hair or skin and this behavior can be difficult to interrupt.
Is excessive cleaning related to stress?
In most cases, it begins with problems related to your skin or because you are experiencing some discomfort or pain. However, it is commonly suggested that in many of the cases there is also some stress factor.
Cats often use behaviors such as grooming to feel better during stressful situations or when they are anxious. This becomes compulsive when the behavior is performed out of context and so frequently that it disrupts their normal activities.
What are the most common areas in excessive toilet?
Basically, it occurs anywhere on the body that the cat can reach with its tongue. The most common areas are the belly, the inside of the hind legs, the legs (front and back) and on the side. The patches usually appear symmetrically on both sides of the body.
Excessive grooming should be distinguished from genuine alopecia (described as partial or complete absence of hair in areas where it would normally grow). The difference is that when the hair is removed intentionally by excessive grooming, the areas remain with small and sharp hair remains while the areas affected by alopecia, the hairs that remain are normal and soft.
Could excessive grooming be a sign of an illness?
There are a large number of diseases that can result in excessive grooming in response to irritation or pain. Probably the most common cause is hypersensitivity to the saliva of fleas, although cats can also suffer reactions to the ingredients of their diet or other substances present in the environment.
In cats, lower urinary tract infection is very common, causing discomfort and pain in the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract. In response to this pain, they may be groomed excessively in the area where it occurs - in this case, the cat would present an area with or without very little hair on the lower abdomen, on the inside of their thighs or around your genitals
The syndrome Feline hyperesthesia may be another possible differential. This is a little known disease that manifests itself in several strange behaviors that include spasms in the skin and sudden episodes of self-mutilation, regularly in the legs and tail.
As well as these, there are many other possible causes and it should be the veterinarian who examines your cat and do some exams if necessary.
What should I do if my cat has this problem?
As with any other strange behavior or symptom of illness, you should consult with the veterinarian as soon as possible. Then your cat can receive the appropriate treatment for your condition and you can be guided on the factors that could have detonated or aggravated the problem.