How To Stop Your Cat From Over-grooming
Read time: 3 min
Discerning. Meticulously groomed. And covered in fur. No, this isn’t a dating profile. Your cat just really likes to keep clean. In fact, they spend a good chunk of their waking time cleaning themselves. So seeing them licking themselves is natural. But if you start noticing your cat cleaning too much there could be something wrong.
What is over-grooming in cats?
Grooming is a totally normal cat behaviour. They use their burred tongues to remove dirt and dead fur from their coats. And it’s a comforting behaviour for them, too.
But excessively grooming, also called over-grooming, can be a source of stress for both you and them. It can also result in irritated skin. And sometimes even bald patches. Or even open sores. Ouch.
Why do cats over-groom?
Your cat is probably overgrooming to try and soothe themselves. Usually because something is bothering them. But narrowing down what’s bothering them can be tricky.
Itchiness – If your cat is feeling itchy because of allergies, fleas, or fungal infections like ringworm, it can cause them to excessively lick themselves. You’ll probably notice them scratching themselves a lot more. And you might notice bald patches. Especially if they have ringworm.
Pain – Pain can cause your cat to groom excessively, particularly in one place. If you spot your cat licking themselves but it’s concentrated to one or two areas on their body, it might be because they are hurting there.
Stress – Cats can get easily stressed out about new situations – like moving house or a new pet. Or another big change – like the loss of a family member. Even something like suddenly moving the litter tray to a new spot can stress your cat out. And they might over-groom to try and comfort themselves.
How to stop your cat from over-grooming
Remove the stressor – Not always easy. But try to identify what is stressing your cat out. And remove it where possible. Treat them for any medical issues that are causing the behaviour.
Offer enrichment – offering them toys and things to climb keeps your cat busy and distracted.
Keep up a routine – Cats are creatures of habit. Which means they love it when you stick to a schedule.
Make changes gradually – Sudden change can stress cats out. So if you’re rearranging furniture, redecorating, or moving house, try to do so in stages.
Never punish them – yelling or shouting at your cat for behaviours that come naturally to them is just confusing. And might make them feel more stressed. Which can lead to more over-grooming.
Leave your scent around – If you notice that your cat is overgrooming because of some separation anxiety, try leaving your scent around to comfort them. T-shirts you’ve worn, pyjamas, and scarves are all great.
Plug-ins – Plug-in diffusers are great for helping cats chill out at home. They release synthetic pheromones into the air. Which are designed for soothing your cat’s nerves.
Consider anti-anxiety meds – If nothing is helping your cat, you might want to consider taking them to the vet to get prescribed some anti-anxiety medication.
When to call the vet
If you can’t find the reason why your cat is over-grooming, or you have and they won’t stop, it’s time to take them to the vet. If you’re feeding your cat a complete, healthy diet (like KatKin), they’re confident, and aren’t stressed or bored, it’s a good idea to get any over-grooming checked out by your vet.
Allergies are a big reason why your cat might be over-grooming. Reactions to ingredients in their food can make them itchy and uncomfortable. Commercial cat food brands fill their food with ingredients your cat might be sensitive to – carbs, grains, soya, fillers, artificial additives or flavourings, and preservatives can all cause itchy skin. KatKin’s range of fresh cat food recipes don’t contain any of that rubbish. Just 100% easily digestible, human-quality meat. No more itchy skin. Just plenty of energy to play, run, and explore. And a happier cat. Sans the bald spots.