The Surprising Reasons Why Cats Overgroom and How to Put a Stop to It

The Surprising Reasons Why Cats Overgroom and How to Put a Stop to It

Cats are known for their meticulous grooming habits, but when it becomes excessive, there might be an underlying issue. Excessive licking, biting, chewing, or scratching can lead to fur loss and an increased number of hairballs. To help your kitty find relief, it’s important to understand the reasons behind their overgrooming and take appropriate action.

Why Do Cats Overgroom?

To address your cat’s overgrooming habits, it’s crucial to identify the root cause. A visit to your veterinarian can help pinpoint any underlying health conditions. Let’s explore the most common reasons why cats overgroom.

Allergy or Infection

Irritated skin can be caused by various factors such as infections, allergies to certain foods, parasites, or environmental substances. The pattern of fur loss can provide clues to the source of the problem. For instance, flea allergies often lead to irritation at the base of the tail, while ear mites result in hair loss and scabbing on the neck and ears. Excessive chewing of the paw pads can indicate an allergic response to pollen.


Overgrooming can also be a sign of pain or discomfort. If your cat repeatedly licks a specific area of their body, it may indicate an underlying issue. Back pain caused by disc disease can lead to overgrooming of a certain spot on their back. Similarly, urinary tract infections or anal sac impaction may result in excessive grooming of the genital or perianal area.

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Stress or Boredom

Some cats turn to overgrooming as a coping mechanism for stress or boredom. Licking releases endorphins that help alleviate anxiety, turning it into a habitual behavior. Changes in the cat’s routine or environment, such as moving to a new house or the arrival of a new family member or pet, can trigger compulsive grooming. Indoor cats that lack mental and physical stimulation are particularly prone to this behavior.

How to Help Your Cat Stop Overgrooming

Managing excessive grooming requires addressing the underlying cause. Your veterinarian can diagnose the root issue and provide appropriate medical treatment or behavioral suggestions.

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

It’s essential to rule out any underlying medical problems. Infections or allergies can be treated with medications like antibiotics, antihistamines, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Consistent flea medication can help with flea allergies and ear mites. If your cat is in pain, your vet can determine the cause and recommend pain management strategies.

Maintain Routines to Reduce Stress

Cats thrive on routine, so creating a comfortable environment and sticking to a predictable schedule can help reduce stress-related hair loss. Regularly clean the litter box and feed your cat at consistent times each day. When introducing changes, do so gradually to minimize stress.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Environmental enrichment is crucial for cats. Offer cat trees, a variety of toys, and scratching posts to keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated. Playtime with your feline friend will help build their confidence and distract them from excessive grooming.

Try Cat Calming Medications and Products

For cats with persistent anxiety, anti-anxiety medications or supplements may be beneficial. Consult your vet for prescriptions, or consider over-the-counter calming supplements in treat form. Synthetic cat pheromone sprays and plug-in diffusers can also help create a calming atmosphere. Talk to your vet to determine the best course of treatment.

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Be Patient With Your Cat

Patience is key when managing overgrooming. Avoid punishing or interfering when you observe excessive licking. This can only increase your cat’s stress and worsen the problem. After seeking help from your vet, it may take some time for the overgrooming behavior to resolve and for your cat’s fur to regrow.

Understanding why cats overgroom is the first step towards finding a solution. By addressing the underlying causes and patiently implementing appropriate measures, you can help your cat break the cycle of excessive grooming and restore their overall well-being.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice.