It is normal for a cat to spend a lot of time grooming. But a cat excessively grooming, causing bald areas in her coat has a problem.
Discover what you can do.
How much grooming is normal for a cat and how much is excessive?
You will find all sorts of answers to that question.
Some cat experts say that a cat can spend up to fifty percent of it's day grooming and for that to be harmless and normal. Others give lower percentages.
One thing that we can be sure of is that cats do spend a lot of their awake time grooming themselves. They like to keep their coats clean.
Grooming also helps cats to regulate their body temperature.
The actual percentage of time is likely to vary from cat to cat. Grooming certainly becomes excessive when fur loss or skin lesions start to appear.
If your cat is giving too much attention to one spot then that could be a worry.
All cats are different and your pet may be more particular about cleaning certain areas of her body. But to keep licking, or nibbling, at one place could indicate a problem.
Carefully examine that spot. Is there an injury? Any rash or soreness? A burrowing tick?
If you can determine the problem and clear up the cause you should do so, but if not get your cat to the veterinarian.
The bald patches that can result from over-licking are not only unsightly, they can be detrimental to your cat's health.
The cat's fur is there for a reason, it protects. Areas striped of fur can be susceptible to being sun burnt or even frostbitten.
A cat that really goes to town with obsessive grooming can even break the skin, yes really, don't forget how rough a cat's tongue is. This can lead to infection.
Hairballs can be another problem. The more a cat grooms the more hair a cat is likely to swallow and the more likely she will bring up hairballs.
Also a lot of the health conditions that can cause a cat to excessively groom can be serious and even life threatening.
Have you ever noticed your cat will groom herself when she is embarrassed?
Perhaps she tried to leap up onto a shelf and did not quite make it. She will turn her attention to a spot on her body that just has to be groomed right there and then.
It's as if she is deflecting attention away from the failed leap and on to the grooming.
The grooming is also comforting, it makes her feel more secure. A cat that does not feel secure for some reason, a reason that is ongoing not temporary like the failed jump, may keep on and on licking herself.
This over-grooming is likely to result in hair loss and bald spots.
A cat that over grooms her fur can not only cause bald patches but even break the skin with that rough tongue of hers.
In this instance the way to stop your cat's excessive grooming is to identify and, if possible, illuminate the cause of your cat's stress, insecurity or anxiety. This is not always easy.
There are many things that can make a cat feel stressed, most can be categorized as some form of change in the cat's life.
This page, Stress in Cats, has information about some of the reasons your cat may feel anxious.
Stress related grooming (Psychogenic Alopecia,) may, in some cases, be controlled with the help of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Sometimes a pet employing stress reliving behavior, such as a cat excessive grooming, will continue even after the cause of the stress has long gone.
Before assuming that any bare patches in your cat's fur are due to excessive grooming, or due to stress related grooming, it would be wise to rule out any other cause.
Your veterinarian is the best person to determine the underlying reasons for the hair loss, and if that involves over grooming, the reason behind that.
Increasing the amount of playtime with your cat, especially using interactive cat toys, may help curb your cat's grooming.
How often do you brush your cat's coat? An increase in the frequency that you groom your cat, don't go overboard, will help help rid her of loose hairs and may help to break a cycle of habitual self grooming.
Remember that it is normal for a cat to spend a lot of time grooming. But a cat excessively grooming has a problem that needs attention.
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