How To Stop A Cat From Licking Its Fur Off

My Cat is Licking Her Fur Off, What Do I Do? – PetPlace

What should you do if you have a cat that is licking his or her own hair off? What is the source of the problem and what can you do about it? There are a variety of reasons why cats lick, and the majority of these are typical innate grooming reasons for the feline species. If your cat’s licking tendency becomes excessive, it may be due to behavioral difficulties or in response to a medical problem, and it may result in your cat licking the hair from their body. In this post, we’ll go through the reasons why cats lick their hair off.

Why Cats Lick Their Fur

Cats lick their hair to eliminate smells and debris from their coats. Much of this action is instinctive, since they must eliminate scents that leave them vulnerable to predation in order to survive. Cats are also capable of licking items other than their own fur. Some cats, for example, may lick you or even get obsessed with licking plastic. If a cat licks itself so much that it loses its fur, this is a serious concern. Here are some plausible explanations for why a cat would lick its own fur.

Behavioral Causes for Cats Licking Fur Off

When agitated, some cats may lick the hair on their bodies. This is referred to as “displacement behavior” in the industry. Cats’ displacement habit, which lowers their alert level, helps them cope with stressful situations. As an illustration, consider the situation in which a cat is challenged by another cat and feels agitated. Some cats may comb themselves while they are deciding whether to attack, flee, or hide, as a way of coping with their dilemma. This assists them in reducing their levels of stress and anxiety.

Obsessive-compulsive disorders

Some cats will go to great lengths to groom themselves. A compulsive disorder may begin as a displacement behavior and progress to a compulsive condition if the stressor persists. Example: If an individual cat is continuously harassed and tormented by another cat, that cat may escalate their displacement behavior to the extreme and continue to engage in that behavior if they are not in a stressful circumstance.

Excessive grooming

Excessive grooming is referred as as psychogenic alopecia, which means “psychological alopecia.” When cats lick the fur off their abdomens, chests, backs, or legs, pet parents will become aware of it. Some cats may tear off their own fur with their teeth, causing skin sores and ulcerations in the process. This behavior is frequently related with the introduction of a new stressor into the cat’s life. However, psychogenic alopecia can affect any cat, and is more frequent in young female cats than in male cats.

Medical Causes for Cats Licking Fur Off

There are a variety of medical conditions that might cause a cat to lick their own hair off.

Skin allergy

A medical ailment known as allergic dermatitis affects a large number of cats. Hypersensitivity to parasites (most typically the flea), food, dust, pollen, or mold can result in an allergic reaction to the allergen. Cats may get uncomfortable and itchy as a result, and they may lick their fur off as a result. Cats with flea allergy lose the majority of their fur in the areas immediately in front of their tail, tummy, and rear legs. They will also frequently get little itching rashes on the back of their necks.

The treatment process is attempting to identify and eliminate the underlying source of the problem. Consider the following scenario: If a cat is allergic to fleas, remove all fleas from the area and begin administering flea preventive drugs.

Wounds and infections

There are numerous different sorts of wounds that can result in hair loss. The licking of bite wounds and lacerations will encourage your cat to lick the affected region. It is also possible that they will lose their fur as a result of an infection surrounding the area. Wounds can develop everywhere on the body, but the paws, face, neck, and area around the rear end are the most commonly affected.

Anal gland issues

Anal gland infections in cats can lead them to lick the area around their rectums.


Ringworm, also known as Dermatophyte fungi, is a kind of fungus that can cause patches of hair loss.


Cats who are in agony may lick their fur excessively or groom themselves excessively. Cats suffering from bladder irritation, for example, may lick the inside of their abdomens.


Sarcoptic mange (also known as scabies) is a severe itching skin condition that causes hair loss on the ears, elbows, hocks, and other regions of the body. Cheyletiella, another type of mite (also known as walking dandruff), is responsible for hair loss and irritation.

Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex

The term eosinophilic granuloma complex (EGC) refers to a series of skin lesions on a cat’s skin that are the result of an allergic reaction to a cat’s fur. These can manifest themselves in three ways, and your cat may be suffering from one, all, or none of them. It is possible to have hair loss on the back of the rear legs, in and around the mouth, on the upper lips, on the neck, on the shoulders, and/or on the face due to this ailment.

Treatment for Excessive Licking in Cats

In order to help your cat, the first step is to identify the source of the problem that is causing them to lick their own hair off. The most effective method of accomplishing this is to take your cat to your veterinarian. Some or all of the following will almost certainly be done or recommended by them:


An in-depth medical history will be obtained by your veterinarian. In addition, they will inquire as to when the problem first occurred, how severe the itching was, what drugs or treatments you have tried, whether you are currently administering any medications, and anything that has contributed to the condition becoming better or worse.


Your veterinarian will do a physical check of the skin and hair of your pet. In addition to assessing the location and health of the hair, they will also examine the skin for any lesions that may be present.

Skin scrapings

A treatment known as “skin scraping” is frequently prescribed. A sharp blade is softly scraped over the skin to collect cells, which are then examined for mites and other skin parasites using a magnifying glass. These scrapings are subjected to a microscopic examination.

Fungal cultures

Ringworm (dermatophytes) is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss. A culture can be accomplished by plucking hair from the margin of the lesion and placing it on culture medium that has been specifically designed for this purpose. The presence of dermatophytes in the culture medium is indicated by a shift in color from yellow to red in the culture media.


During a trichogram, the doctor examines the hair under a microscope to evaluate whether or not it is growing properly and whether or not there are broken hairs, which would suggest that the person has self-induced alopecia.

Food trial

If the alopecia is associated with pruritus, it may be necessary to do a hypoallergenic diet trial or allergen testing in order to rule out allergy.


The results of a skin biopsy can be quite useful in pinpointing the source of fur loss. In order to conduct an examination, one or more tiny samples of skin are removed from the skin lesion and submitted to a veterinary pathologist. Once the underlying source of the problem has been identified, certain therapies can be advised to alleviate the situation.

3 Methods to Prevent a Cat from Licking Off Fur

It is important to understand the underlying reason of licking in order to effectively treat and prevent it. Saying “No!” to a cat may temporarily halt the licking, but it is not a long-term or effective solution.

  • Bandage. To keep licking from occurring on some wounds, bandages can be used. If you have wounds on your torso, a baby t-shirt may be the solution. In order to cover the wound on the front half of the body, drape it with a t-shirt in a natural manner. Putting on the tee-shirt backwards for wounds on the lower part of the body will help prevent infection. The tail should go through the head hole, and the rear legs should go through the arm holes. It is possible that you may need to apply a piece of adhesive tape to secure the bottom hem of the t-shirt to the cat in order to prevent the shirt from slipping. Some cats are allergic to clothes, therefore this method may not be effective for them. Topical products are those that are applied topically. The bitter taste of several items, such as Chew Guard®, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and Tabasco®, has proven to be effective in deterring licking behavior. Many products can even be applied directly to the wound or placed on the bandage without causing any harm. Before administering any of these products directly to a wound, consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate product and treatment strategy. E-Collars The Elizabethan collar, often known as an E-collar, is typically the most efficient method of keeping dogs from licking their collars. The collar is designed to go around the cat’s neck and has the appearance of a lampshade that covers the cat’s head. The use of this method can prevent licking and loss of fur.

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Why Does My Cat Lick Her Fur Until There’s a Bald Spot?

It’s common knowledge that cats are extremely meticulous self-groomers that can occasionally go a little too far with their meticulous grooming. Cat owners who are frightened to see a bald area around their cat’s belly or armpit sometimes seek advice from their veterinarian on how to deal with excessive grooming. According to board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, of the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, licking off large patches of hair is not often associated with a behavioral problem in felines, contrary to common belief.

Common Culprits: Fleas and Food Allergies

The presence of an external parasite — mites, ticks, or fleas in particular — or a fungal illness like ringworm may be the cause of a significant amount of hair loss in one area. Once skin scrapings or blood samples have been evaluated, a veterinarian can typically determine the origin of the ailment and prescribe the most appropriate medication to treat it. If the excessive grooming is caused by a food allergy that has been detected, the problem can be resolved by making dietary changes, such as feeding a hypoallergenic diet that has been suggested by a veterinarian.

Stress Can Also Play a Part

In the event that a veterinarian determines that there is no medical issue, the next step is to seek for new environmental stresses, such as a new pet, a new baby, or a new partner. The behavior of cats who overgroom is comparable to that of people who fiddle with their hair, according to Dr. Sueda. “When you’re worried, you tend to do it more.” Modification of a cat’s behavior and training can assist to lower the cat’s degree of stress. A new animal has entered the household, and owners can provide additional attention or a secluded location apart from the newcomer to help the extremely stressedcat relax and recover.

Regardless of the reason, hair loss and excessive grooming are typically indicators that something is wrong, and you should check with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cats that Lick Too Much

Even if some cats are more conscientious than others, excessive grooming is an indication of a problem. Nellie, a seven-year-old female tortoiseshell who had been spayed, flipped over on her back, revealing a hairless belly beneath her fur. That’s when her owner realized she had a cat who licked excessively, and she called the vet. When it comes to cats, licking is a natural instinct, yet this natural grooming drive may often transcend the line into compulsive behavior. If your cat’s licking appears to be excessive in terms of frequency or duration, don’t dismiss the issue.

  1. Cats spend between 30 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, according to Pamela Perry, DVM, an animal behavior resident at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and member of the Animal Behavior Clinic’s animal behavior team.
  2. “Because cats groom themselves often, most owners are unaware of a problem until they discover substantial hair loss or skin sores,” she continues.
  3. In the case of an uncomfortable or painful portion of their body, cats will lick it, according to William Miller Jr., VMD, a board certified specialist in dermatology who also happens to be a professor at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
  4. If you have itching conditions, you will notice that you lick more often.
  5. Miller adds that this is a prevalent problem among felines.
  6. According to Dr.
  7. The author explains that “bald skin is more susceptible to sunburn, frostbite, and other environmental assaults.” “There will be no infection as long as the licking does not cause the skin’s surface to be broken.
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It is possible that infection may increase the licking, culminating in a vicious cycle that will culminate in a major infection “He goes into detail.

In addition to checking for fleas, lice and hair mats, Dr.

Extreme licking is not necessarily the result of an underlying physical health condition; the practice can occasionally be triggered by psychological factors as well.

Perry explains that cats prefer constancy and predictability, and that change can be upsetting for them.

Licking, which is classified as a “displacement behavior” in such situations, can be used to calm and comfort a cat, but it can also become habitual if the source of the problem is not properly identified and resolved.

Perry, “if all medical problems have been ruled out, we typically treat overgrooming as a result of some form of stress in the cat’s life.” If possible, she recommends making changes or introductions gradually; bringing familiar items (such as bedding) to a new home; adding cat-friendly vertical space – high places where cats can retreat and feel safe; and keeping their environment stimulating by finding a few minutes (ten to 15 minutes daily will do) to play with them each day.

  • “Most cats really enjoy interaction,” Dr.
  • “Finding what your cat likes, whether it’s cuddle time with you or a favorite toy that is like a security blanket, can relieve stress.” Finally, if your cat is seriously stressed, a form of temporary anti-anxiety drug therapy prescribed by your veterinarian may be warranted, she says.
  • Perry says.
  • “Usually, the behavior is forgottenin about a month,” Dr.
  • Whether the cause is physiological or psychological, solving an overgrooming problem will require time and patience on the owner’s part.

For Nellie, who had recently endured the loss of a companion animal in her home, the solution required consistent attention, affection and routine. It took a few months, but her hair is growing back and her life has returned to normal.

When cats lick all the hair off their bellies

Dr. Marty Becker’s blog on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018. When it comes to pets, compulsive licking and chewing may be quite difficult to overcome. I received a letter from a cat owner who was looking for information and advice. My daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, and I collaborated to provide assistance. Q: My 11-year-old male cat has a bad habit of licking all of the fur off of his stomach. I’ve tried Apoquel and Cerenia, and my veterinarian performed an abdominal ultrasound, after which the cat was put on dexamethasone.

  • Do you have any suggestions?
  • Although you do not specify what breed of cat you have, Siamese and similar breeds are the most typically affected by compulsive disorders, which present themselves as excessive licking and hair loss.
  • Interestingly, the cat’s licking action may induce the brain to generate natural painkillers known as endorphins, which can help to alleviate the cat’s uneasiness.
  • Most of the time, it’s the introduction of a new family member, such as a new infant in the house, as well as disputes with other pets.
  • If a veterinary behaviorist concludes that the cat’s behavior is caused by fear, anxiety, or tension, he or she may recommend anti-anxiety medication in conjunction with behavior and environmental change.

How to Cure Hair Loss in Cats That Keep Licking Themselves

While grooming is a normal part of a cat’s natural cleaning routine, they can get overzealous, resulting in bald areas on their coats.

Licking can be caused by a variety of circumstances including allergic responses, injury, stress, fleas or other medical conditions. There are various measures you may take to identify the source of your cat’s illness and perhaps treat the cat before taking it to the veterinarian for treatment.


See if anything has changed in your cat’s life since you last saw him. New pets or children, as well as a relocation to a new place, can all have an impact on your cat’s level of stress. You should consult your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior after changing his or her shampoo or diet. Examine your cat’s skin, both visually and tactilely, for any signs of illness. Inspect for rashes, lumps, and wounds, as well as matted hair and odd spots. Ringworm is characterized by circular spots that are gray or red in color and scaly on the surface.

Feas are also likely to be evident, particularly behind the neck and in or around the tail region.

Even if your cat does not venture outside, this is an important step to take.


If an underlying issue was discovered during your examination, it should be eliminated. If you suspect your cat is anxious, spend extra time with him or her during the day. If at all possible, remove external stressors from your life. If necessary, return to a prior shampoo or food, or experiment with a hypo-allergenic meal to see if it helps. Using a comb, detangle any matted fur from your cat’s coat, and cut its nails. Long nails may cause a cat to scratch itself, causing it to lick the wound repeatedly as a result of the scratching.

  • Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the scent of a cat’s natural face pheromones and functions as a soothing agent on the cat’s behavior.
  • Soothing creams, anti-itch spray, and shampoo are examples of such products.
  • Using a cone-shaped collar, you may prevent your cat from getting to the region where it has been licking.
  • If you are unable to cure your cat yourself or if it does not react, it is possible that the cat is suffering from an inside problem that is causing him to lick excessively.
  • Do not administer to your cat any drugs or treatments that are designed for human consumption. If your cat is already anxious, using an Elizabethan collar may exacerbate the situation.

References and Photographic Credits Biography of the Author Tanya Gulliver has been writing professionally for more than 20 years and is based in Toronto. She is pursuing a PhD in environmental studies, with a concentration on catastrophic catastrophes, as part of her coursework. Her first publication came when she was a pre-teen, when she collaborated on a weekly events piece for her local newspaper, with the purpose of mentioning as many of her friends and relatives as possible.

Cats and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing

Most cats are meticulous groomers, but what happens when their grooming habits go into overdrive? Some cats’ licking, scratching, and chewing activities can become obsessive for a variety of reasons, which can be irritating to you as well as damaging to your pet’s skin and hair. Unless you routinely catch your cat scratching, licking, or chewing themselves, it is unlikely that they have a scratching or licking problem. However, if you don’t, the first sign of trouble may be the removal of your cat’s hair, which is often found in strips down their back or tummy.

Although obsessive cat scratching, licking, or chewing habits can occur in any animal, Siamese cats and other Oriental breeds are more likely than other breeds to exhibit these tendencies.

It is important to talk with your veterinarian since there are a variety of medical conditions that can cause scratching and licking habits. This will allow you to discover the root reason and the best course of treatment.

Why Do Cats Compulsively Scratch, Lick, or Chew?

Parasites. Fleas are frequently shown to be the source of obsessive cat scratching and cat licking habits. Cats are superb groomers, and they may be able to completely eliminate all signs of offleas. Observe whether or not your cat is licking their lower back incessantly, and whether or not there are scabs on their neck. This is a clue that fleas may be the source of the problem. Various other parasites, such as ticks, mites, and ringworm, can also cause scratching, licking, or chewing of the skin.

  1. Cats may experience itchy, irritated skin if they are allergic to anything in their surroundings, in the same way that some individuals experience skin irritations in response to particular diets or environmental triggers in humans.
  2. Dry winter air and dietary deficiencies can both lead to dry, flaky skin on your cat’s body, prompting him to lick or scratch in quest of comfort.
  3. Your cat may be feeling pain or discomfort in a particular region if you witness them licking or biting the same spot over and over again.
  4. Cats who are bored, agitated, or nervous are more likely to engage in compulsive gnawing, scratching, or licking habits than other cats.
  5. Compulsive disorders in cats are frequently triggered by changes in the cat’s surroundings, such as the introduction of a new animal or infant into the home or the relocation to a new area.


Parasites are being eliminated. Given the difficulty in diagnosing flea infestation in cats, some veterinarians recommend experimenting with reliable flea control products purchased from a veterinary office for six to eight weeks in order to determine whether or not it reduces the incidence of licking, scratching, or chewing in cats. In a similar vein, treating your cat for mites or other parasites, if they are present, might alleviate his discomfort as well as his troublesome behaviors. Foods are being changed.

  1. It’s possible that you’ll have to try numerous different diets before you discover one that works.
  2. During the course of an exclusion diet study, no additional foods or treats should be supplied.
  3. The level of skin damage produced by licking, gnawing, or scratching by your cat will determine whether or not steroids, antihistamines, or antibiotics will be prescribed by your veterinarian to treat the condition.
  4. Managing feelings of anxiousness or boredom In the event that you and your veterinarian establish that your cat’s behavior is not due to a physical illness, there are steps you may take to enhance your cat’s mental health.
  5. It is possible that desensitizing your cat by gradually and carefully introducing them to items they are afraid of would prove to be useful.
  6. Counter-conditioning, which involves teaching your cat to link something nice, like as a reward, with something they dread, may also be beneficial in reducing tension and anxiety.

However, there is always the possibility that the second cat may introduce a new stress into your pet’s surroundings, increasing the likelihood that the hair loss will worsen.

Overgrooming Cats

By Lisa Maciorakowski, DVM 617-522-7282 The over-grooming cat is a pretty typical, if not especially annoying, predicament to find yourself in because there is rarely a quick and simple remedy to the problem at hand. Over-grooming can be caused by a variety of factors, including behavioral or medical. Psychogenic alopecia, also known as “behavioral over-grooming,” is a source of stress-relief for many cats that brush themselves excessively.

  1. Medical conditions that induce a cat to over-groom are often those that make the cat itchy or uncomfortable.
  2. Cats, like people, can develop allergies to foods, fleas, or anything else in their environment, whether it is natural or artificial.
  3. A veterinarian can assist you in looking for indications of fleas, recommending flea preventatives, and discussing diet trial choices.
  4. If the cat responds positively to a treatment with a steroid or an anti-histamine, this may provide weight to the notion that he has an allergy, which may be the source of his excessive grooming behavior.
  5. These are less prevalent in cats that solely spend their time inside, but they are not impossible.
  6. The process of grooming itself can be painful for many over-grooming cats, causing harm to their skin.
  7. The eosinophillic granuloma complex is an example of a primary skin lesion that is rather prevalent among people.
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These lesions can be identified by a skin biopsy or by the response to a steroid treatment trial, among other methods.

The skin may or may not get infected with germs as a result of the over-grooming, depending on the underlying reason.

In order to assist in breaking the cycle of licking while the skin is being treated and the source of irritation is addressed, it is generally recommended that cats wear an Elizabethan collar while the treatment is taking place.

Because any sickness may cause stress in a cat, which can result in over-grooming, it is necessary to assess the overall health of the feline before treating it.

Following the exclusion of all medically related factors, excessive grooming might be classified as a behavioral problem in some cases.

In this case, the cats get obsessed with themselves and become incapable of stopping themselves from licking or gnawing on themselves.

There are several sources of potential stresses for cats to contend with.

The stressor is sometimes difficult to recognize, and it is crucial to remember that stressors are unique to each individual cat in the household.

Some OCD behaviors can evolve from something that began out as self-soothing grooming in response to a specific scenario and continue to develop even after the initial stressor has been removed.

The development of psychogenic alopecia can occur in any cat, while it may be more common in cats who have a very high-strung nature.

If the over-grooming is observed, the cat should not be penalized, since this would just serve to add to the stress of the cat’s environment.

However, we would be worried if the cat’s grooming habit became so distracting that it interfered with his other daily activities (eating, playing, interacting, sleeping).

Psychogenic alopecia can be treated in a variety of methods, each of which is discussed below.

Because it is not always evident, this may need a great deal of consideration (to anyone but the cat).

Plenty of toys, engaging playing, and playmates are all examples of how to do this (unless the playmates are the initiating source of stress).

Maintain as much consistency as possible throughout the cat’s day.

It is a synthetic version of the face pheromones that cats employ to mark their territory and maintain their calm.

It will almost certainly be recommended that a behaviorist be called in order to provide more advice and specific strategies that may be used at home if the problem has progressed to this degree.

However, unlike the physical causes of excessive cat grooming, which can typically be resolved or controlled, psychogenic alopecia is a chronic condition that lasts for the rest of a cat’s life.

There are periods of time when they will have bald patches, and there will be periods of time when their over-grooming will increase and decrease.

The Angell General Medicine service may be reached at 617-522-7282 or at the website Angell also provides behavior services for cats, which may be found at

Why Is My Cat Licking Its Fur Off? How to Stop Overgrooming in Cats

You shouldn’t be concerned if your cat is licking itself so much that its fur is flowing out of its mouth. When you tackle the underlying reason of this excessive grooming habit, also known as fur mowing, it will typically stop. Cats are known to overgroom when they are suffering from medical conditions or are stressed. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most frequent reasons of excessive grooming in cats, as well as the most effective treatments for them. We’ll also discuss some interim remedies you may try while you’re trying to figure out what’s causing your cat’s excessive licking.

  1. 1 Consult your cat’s veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. Overgrooming in cats is frequently caused by itching and suffering associated with medical conditions. The most effective method of preventing this type of excessive licking is to address the underlying problem. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine what is causing your cat to lick the fur off of its body. It is possible that they will be able to detect whether the problem is due to overgrooming or another sort of hair loss.
  • Some of the most common medical reasons are parasite infestations (such as fleas, mites, or lice), skin diseases, food allergies, and environmental allergies, among others. Healing wounds can also be itchy, which can lead to excessive licking of the wound. Compulsive licking can be caused by a variety of neurological issues in some cases. In addition, your veterinarian may order laboratory tests to rule out other probable reasons, such as a thyroid imbalance.
  • 2 Have your cat’s allergies checked for you. Similarly to people, cats are susceptible to allergies to objects in their surroundings (such as dust or pollen) as well as to components in their food (such as wheat). If your cat is irritated as a result of allergies, it may groom excessively, resulting in hair loss. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to have your cat tested for allergies, especially if you observe hair loss around the cat’s tummy and back.
  • You should inform your veterinarian if you are aware of anything that might be causing your cat’s hair loss, such as a change to its food or a change in its living environment. In order to determine whether your cat has food allergies, your veterinarian may recommend that you put your cat on a special hypoallergenic diet for a period of time to see whether its symptoms improve. Additionally, they may administer anti-inflammatory drugs to your cat, such as steroids. If the drug appears to be effective, allergies are most likely the source of the problem.
  • 3 Keep an eye out for potential causes of stress. Cats find grooming to be a soothing experience. To cope with their anxiety and tension, cats lick themselves excessively, causing hair loss, particularly on the inner thighs, front legs, and tummy. Consider some of the possible causes of your cat’s recent anxiety, such as a recent move, the introduction of a new pet or human family member, or changes in your daily schedule. Look for ways to make your cat feel more secure and comfortable, such as the following:
  • Keeping your cat away from other creatures with whom it does not get along is especially important when you are unable to oversee them all at the same time. Provide separate litter boxes, food locations, and hiding spots for each pet if you have a multi-pet household to help alleviate stress. Making your cat’s daily routine as predictable as possible will help to reduce stress. Make an effort to feed, groom, and play with your cat at the same times every day, for example
  • And Providing a variety of resting and hiding spots for your cat, such as climbing towers and kitty condos
  • 4 If there isn’t an evident cause, ask your veterinarian to check for mites. If your cat looks itchy, but you’ve previously ruled out typical causes like allergies and fleas, then mites might be the source of the overgrooming and hair loss. These small critters can be incredibly hard to spot even by looking at skin samples under a microscope. For this reason, your doctor could attempt a mite treatment—such as a series of lime-sulfur dips—and see whether your cat’s scratching and hair loss get better
  • If mites are the source of the problem, there are a number of treatments that may be used to alleviate the situation. Flea and tick medications, for example, can be used to treat a wide variety of mite species. Inquire with your veterinarian about the most effective therapy for your cat. Because the grooming routine is the same, hair loss caused by mites might appear to be comparable to stress-related hair loss. It is common for cats with mites to overgroom in all of the locations where they can reach them readily, such as the belly, inner thighs and front legs
  • They will also overgroom on the flanks.
  • 5 Consult with your veterinarian about any potential skin issues. Fungal and bacterial infections can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, which might encourage your cat to overgroom the diseased region, causing it to become infected again and again. Examine your cat’s fur for rashes, redness, scabs, or sores in the areas where it prefers to lick its own fur off. If you detect anything like this, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get it looked out.
  • In order to obtain a sample of the diseased tissue, your veterinarian may need to carefully scrape your cat’s skin in the afflicted region. This will assist them in determining what type of infection your cat has and how to treat it to the best of their abilities. Based on the type of illness your cat has, your veterinarian may recommend an oral or topical treatment to alleviate the condition. A small number of cats that overgroom lick themselves so furiously that they tear the skin, which can lead to the development of secondary illnesses In these instances, your cat may require an antibiotic as well as therapy for whatever it was that caused the excessive grooming in the first place.
  1. 1 Use a head cone to prevent overgrooming while you investigate the source of the problem. Once you’ve figured out why your cat is licking its own fur off, you may start working on addressing the underlying issue. An Elizabethan collar, commonly known as an E-collar, can be used in the meanwhile to protect your cat’s hair and skin while also attempting to stop the compulsive licking cycle that your cat is experiencing. Look for an Elizabethan collar at your local pet supply store or online, or inquire at your veterinarian’s office about getting one.
  • However, the Elizabethan collar should not be too tight
  • Rather, it should be flexible enough that you can pass two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck. The task of keeping an E-collar on a cat may be challenging, to say the least! To make things easier, you may attach the cone to your cat’s usual collar. You may also ask your veterinarian to demonstrate how to make a harness out of gauze to assist keep it on your body. In case you have to leave the collar on for an extended period of time, brush your cat on a regular basis to maintain him looking clean and neat. This is particularly crucial for long-haired cats
  • Nonetheless,
  • 2 Apply a bitter spray or ointment to the areas where your cat is overgrooming and see if it helps. If your cat has a tendency to concentrate its overgrooming on a specific area—such as an itching wound or an infected area—a bitter spay may be a suitable temporary solution while you address the underlying problem. These acrid-tasting sprays are designed to inhibit licking. For items such as bitter apple, cherry, and orange spray, check with your local pet supply store or veterinarian’s office.
  • Additionally, this is a wonderful choice if you are unable to keep an E-collar on your cat
  • Some of these therapies are available as ointments or creams, as well. Depending on the product, you may need to experiment with other scents because some cats really love the bitter flavors. Open wounds on your cat’s skin might be stung or irritated by these items, so be cautious to apply them around any wounds rather than directly on top of them to avoid irritation. Consult the product’s label to ensure that you understand how to use the product properly.
  • 3 Apply a bandage or a shirt to the troublesome places. After trying bitter sprays and Elizabethan collars and failing, covering up the issue area is a decent temporary option to try next time. In order to decrease licking, consult your veterinarian about applying a bandage to an itching sore or diseased region of your cat’s skin. If you want to reduce grooming on the back, sides, and belly of your cat, you may put a baby onesie or a dog sweater on him.
  • It’s even possible to build a charming onesie for your cat out of an old sock.
  • 4 If you discover fleas on your cat, treat him immediately. In the event that you’ve seen your cat scratching excessively, gnawing on itself, or otherwise becoming jumpy and disturbed, fleas may be to blame for the hair loss. Fleas can be found by gently brushing your cat’s fur with a fine-toothed flea comb to look for them. Fleas (little brown or black insects approximately the size of a sesame kernel) and flea dirt (which appears as small black specks that become red when exposed to water) should be on the lookout.
  • If you find fleas on your cat, you’ll need to treat him for them right away. Consult your veterinarian about the many choices available, including as flea washes or spot-on treatments. These treatments can also eliminate other skin parasites that cause itching and hair loss, such as lice and mites
  • However, these treatments are not as effective. Additionally, you may need to treat your home with a pet-safe pest control solution, such as diatomaceous earth, in addition to washing your cat’s bedding and thoroughly cleaning any places where your cat loves to lie. In particular, hair loss is more common in cats with flea allergies, particularly around their tails and hind legs, which are areas where they itch a lot and groom the most intensely. You may also see bald spots and scabs on your cat’s head and neck
  • This is a sign of stress.
  • 5 Engage in playful interactions with your cat to alleviate boredom and loneliness. If your cat is occupied with playing and engaging with you, it will be less likely to get obsessed with licking its own paws and face. Every day, try to spend at least a little time paying attention to your cat, whether it involves playing with toys or simply cuddling for an extended period of time.
  • If you provide your cat with a large number of toys, it will be able to play and enjoy itself even when you are not there.
  • 6 If your cat is worried, consider using a relaxing treatment such as a pheromone spray. If your cat is easily agitated and anxious, try spraying its favorite sleeping or resting locations with a pheromone spray or placing a diffuser in areas where it likes to hang out to help calm it down and relax. You may also use a relaxing collar to keep your cat quiet. It is possible that these tools will calm and relax your cat, reducing its proclivity to self-soothe by licking its fur off.
  • Purchase cat pheromone sprays, diffusers, or collars either online or at a pet supply store to attract your cat. They may also be available for purchase at your veterinarian’s clinic.
  • 7 Look into anti-anxiety drugs for cats who are really anxious. The introduction of a new pet or family member into the home, for example, might cause your cat to become extremely agitated. Medication can help your cat cope if it is experiencing extreme stress. Consult your veterinarian about the possibility of using a prescription anti-anxiety medication to calm your cat and lessen stress-related behavioral disorders such as excessive grooming and licking.
  • It is possible that your veterinarian will prescribe utilizing drugs in conjunction with other stress-relieving strategies, such as developing a relaxing daily routine for your cat or giving extra toys and hiding places for your cat.
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  • Occasionally, cats develop the habit of excessively grooming themselves during a period of transitory stress, and the behavior might persist long after the cause of the stress has been removed. After a month or so, your cat is likely to forget about the habit and move on if you can break the pattern of licking, for example, by spending additional time playing with it or having it wear an E-collar for a period.

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Your cat is naturally motivated to keep their coat clean, and they might spend as much as 50% of their waking time grooming themselves. Cat grooming can become excessive in some cases, as seen by the behavior of some cats. Find out why this occurs and what you can do to assist your cat in dealing with it.

What is cat overgrooming?

In cats, overgrooming happens when your cat begins grooming themselves excessively, licking their fur to the point where it causes skin irritation, ulcers, or hair loss. In severe circumstances, a cat may even begin to bite at the skin in specific regions. You may notice your cat overgrooming, skin injury, or a patchy coat in some situations, but in other cases, you may just observe the signs of overgrooming, such as clumps of hair under the sofa, which indicates that your cat has overgroomed.

What causes excessive cat grooming?

Behavioral causes of excessive grooming include excessive licking as a stress-relief technique (sometimes called psychogenic alopecia), while medical causes include skin allergies or skin parasites, which are the most common causes of overgrooming.

Excessive cat grooming as a stress-relief mechanism

Although it may not be immediately apparent to you, your cat’s living environment can become quite stressful. When it comes to feline stresses, they may not always register on our human scale, but they may wreak just as much chaos as one of our workplace fights or a last-minute project that requires immediate attention. The most common source of stress for cats is other cats – whether they live in a multicat household or are found in the neighborhood. Cats are solitary creatures by nature, and they might find coexisting with other cats to be quite unpleasant.

Why Cats Overgroom and How You Can Stop It

Your cat’s living environment can become quite stressful, even if it isn’t immediately apparent to you. When it comes to feline stresses, they may not always register on our human scale, but they may wreak just as much chaos as one of our workplace fights or a last-minute assignment that needs to be completed. A cat’s most significant source of stress is other cats — whether they live in a multicat household or are found in the surrounding neighborhood. As solitary creatures by nature, cats might find cohabitation with other cats to be quite unpleasant.

The majority of the time, this does not appear as hostility toward other cats, and they may peacefully snuggle up together at home, but your cat may struggle to cope with the stress and resort to excessive grooming.

Why Do Cats Overgroom?

In order to effectively control your cat’s excessive grooming behaviors, you must first understand what is generating the excessive licking in the first instance. The underlying problems can be addressed by your veterinarian. In this section, we will discuss the most frequent health issues that might cause excessive cat self-grooming.

Allergy or Infection

Irritated skin can be caused by a variety of factors, including an infection, an allergy to particular foods, parasites, or environmental contaminants. The pattern of fur loss on your cat’s coat may also provide clues as to the source of the problem:

  • Flea allergy symptoms include itching around the base of the tail
  • Hair loss and scabbing on the neck and ears are common symptoms of earmites. A pollen allergy reaction manifests itself as increased chewing of the paw pads.


Overgrooming can sometimes be an indication that your cat is in pain or discomfort, particularly if she is licking the same region of her body repeatedly. For example, disc illness can cause back pain, causing your cat to overgroom a specific region on their back, whereas an aurinary tract infection can lead your cat to overgroom a specific spot on their back. Grooming of the genitals and perianal region may become excessive if the oranal sac becomes irritated.

Stress or Boredom

Overgrooming is a coping mechanism for some cats when they are stressed or bored. It is believed that licking causes the production of endorphins, which can assist to alleviate anxiety. As a result, when a nervous cat finds solace in licking, it may become a habit. A change in a cat’s daily routine or surroundings, such as moving to a new house or the introduction of a new family member or pet, is often the cause of compulsive grooming, also known as psychogenic alopecia. Psychogenic alopecia is a kind of hair loss that occurs as a result of excessive grooming.

Cats are also very intellectual creatures that might become bored if their daily routine does not include enough enrichment.

Grooming can assist compensate for a lack of mental or physical stimulation in these situations, if necessary.

How to Stop Your Cat From Overgrooming

The key to effectively managing excessive grooming is to first identify and address the underlying source of the problem. If the problem is behavioral in nature, your veterinarian can determine the core reason and provide medical therapy or ideas for breaking the habit.

Look for Medical Issues (Take Your Cat to the Vet)

First and foremost, your veterinarian will need to rule out any potential medical issues. Infections or allergies can be treated with the right medicines, which may include antibiotics, antihistamines, and/or anti-inflammatory treatments, depending on the underlying cause.

Keep your cat’s flea treatment up to date all year to prevent flea allergies and ear mites from developing. If your cat is in discomfort, your veterinarian can diagnose what is causing it and how to alleviate the discomfort.

Maintain Routines to Reduce Stress

Cats thrive on regularity, so if the hair loss is caused by stress, attempt to establish a relaxing atmosphere as well as a consistent schedule for your cat. Changing the litter box at least once a day, and feeding your cat at the same times every day, is essential. Introducing changes gradually, such as the addition of a new pet or a change in your living environment, is the best way to ensure that your cat has the least amount of stress possible.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Make sure your cat has plenty of opportunity to play by providing him with cat trees, various sorts of toys, scratching posts, and plenty of opportunities to explore his environment. This will assist your cat in gaining confidence while also diverting her attention away from excessively grooming.

Try Cat Calming Medications and Products

A variety of anti-anxiety drugs and/or vitamins may be beneficial for cats that suffer from persistent anxiety. If you want to give your dog medicine, you’ll need a veterinarian’s prescription. Calming vitamins are available over the counter in the shape of treats. In addition, sprays and plug-in diffusers that disseminate synthetic cat pheromones are available for purchase. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Be Patient With Your Cat

In the end, patience is the most crucial aspect of dealing with overgrooming problems. If you see your cat licking herself excessively, don’t reprimand her or try to stop her from doing so. Adding to your cat’s stress and exacerbating her overgrooming problem will only make matters worse. It may take a month or more for an overgrooming tendency to subside, and even longer for your cat’s fur to regrow after you’ve sought aid from your veterinarian. Source: Aksenov, used with permission.

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