Typically, cats are clean animals, self-grooming themselves about 50% of the time they spend awake. However, every now and then, this activity can be overdone. If there has been a change in their routine or environment, your cat can react with excessive grooming. If this sounds familiar,  you may be wondering, “Why Is My Cat Overgrooming?” Let’s look a little closer at why this happens and what can be done to help minimize this behavior.

About Cat Overgrooming
What is cat overgrooming? When your cat licks her coat so much, that her skin becomes inflamed, she loses fur or develops sores, she is considered to be overgrooming. It may even get so bad, that she begins to bite certain areas of her skin. The proof of overgrooming will be in clumps of fur hidden behind the couch, irritated skin, uneven fur or you’ll just see your cat spending an abnormal amount of time grooming.

Excessive Cat Grooming Causes
Cats tend to overgroom when they are stressed. When this happens, they groom as a way to relieve that stress and sometimes, it has the potential to get out of hand. Below are a few reasons as to why they might be stressed.

  • Multi-cat household
  • Limited food, water and litter box(es)
  • Brand new furniture
  • New routine
  • Cat(s) outside
  • Not enough space
  • Another Dominant pet
Typically, cats are sensitive to other animals imposing on their living space, so when new pets are introduced, it can create a stressful environment for your cat. If you’re multi-cat owner, you have to deal with the issues of space and making sure there are enough provisions to go around. If resources like food, water and sufficient litter boxes are not readily available or if you don’t have enough space—particularly hiding places—your cats will be keenly aware of it and will be stressed by these issues.

Another reason cats overgroom, is when parasites—like fleas, ticks, mites and lice—begin to become a nuisance or when their skin succumbs to an allergic reaction. So, to help minimize the risk of parasites, be sure to keep a clean house, vacuum regularly and inspect your cat when they come in from their outdoor adventures. If it becomes necessary, bathe your cat with a shampoo designed specifically for treating parasites. Try to employ the best preventative measures, so that your cat won’t have to deal with a parasite infestation. Also, consult a veterinarian about the appropriate treatment for allergies, so as to reduce skin irritation.

FLEA & TICK SHAMPOO

TREATMENT IDEAS

Stick To A Schedule
Cats are fairly routine creatures and are aware of even the slightest change to their schedule. Overgrooming can be a symptom for a general feeling of insecurity. Keeping a solid schedule can help give a sense of security. So, if you plan on making any changes to their routine—whether it be a small or large change—be sure to watch how your cat adjusts. 

Adjustments aside, try to keep a normal schedule for meals, playtime and sleep. Make sure your cat’s food and water bowls are always in the same place to give her a stable feeling. 

If changes must be made, they should be done with your cat in mind. Diets and litter box changes should be on a trial basis and you should be ready to switch back to the old routine, if the new one doesn’t work out.

If you’re redecorating, create a space for your cat to reside until the activity is over. Also, make sure your decorating changes are sensitive to your cats way of life. Give her high places to perch, scratching post and lots of hiding places.

 

Hiding Places
Giving your cat a place to retreat, can go a long way to helping your cat feel more secure. Just as when humans become stressed and need to get away, cats also need a place to regroup themselves, when they feel overwhelmed.

Hiding places come in handy when your cat gets nervous during storms, lives in a multi-cat household, there are strange people in the house, there’s unusual activity happening or she just wants a little time to herself.

If your cat is overgrooming, it’s likely that she may feel trapped and doesn’t have any place to hide. To help reduce this anxiety, try to create several hiding places for your cat.

Make Playtime A Priority
It’s important to schedule regular playtime with your kitty to give her the kind of attention she requires.

When you do activities that encourage your cat to chase and pounce, you’re helping her to engage her natural hunting instincts. Instincts, that if allowed to stay dormant for long periods, can result in excessive overgrooming.

So, use cat wands, plush toys, puzzles where food is the prize or anything that will safely stimulate her innate skills as a predator. If she likes to go outside, then make sure she has a way to access the outdoors. The bottom line is that your cat shouldn’t feel cooped up, inactive or ignored.

Synthetic Pheromones
When a cat rubs her cheeks against an object, person or another animal, it’s usually because it’s something they like a lot. When they do this they release a chemical from their glands called pheromones. Pheromones are used to communicate—between the species—things like age, sex and familiarity. 

Certain pheromones can be calming, helping cats to relax in stressful situations. Scientist have found a way to synthetically copy these pheromones and make them available as a product to reduce stress. They come in sprays, plugin diffusers, wipes and collars. 

Synthetic pheromones are ideal for use in multi-cat households, where excessive grooming can be an issue—if your cat feels threatened by a more dominant cat. Spraying your cat’s bedding, favorite blanket or diffusing a room she is frequently in, can help to take the edge off a tense situation. 

Using synthetic pheromones in conjunction with the above mentioned techniques, can help to reduce excessive cat grooming.

Bach Rescue Remedy
Bach Rescue Remedy is homeopathic herbal treatment that was introduced by Dr. Edward Bach. It’s a tincture—liquid with traces of herbs—that has a blend of 5 flower essences. These flowers are consider to help reduce stress on an energetic level, with the potential to help eliminate negative behavior. It is reportedly helpful in easing tensions in multi-cat households, treating aggressive temperaments and reducing traumatic stress, which is a common cause of cat overgrooming.

Note: The recommended way to administer Bach Rescue Remedy, is to add 2-4 drops to your pet’s wet food, treats and/or drinking water. 

Is it the breed?
Excessive cat grooming may have to do with your breed of cat. It has been noted that the Siamese and the Abyssinian are prone to overgrooming. However, there aren’t any conclusive studies that indicate that this is a common trait among the breeds. But regardless of breed, if the environmental conditions effect your cat’s allergies, overgrooming could be your cat’s way of coping.

Excessive Cat Grooming or Hair Loss
If your cat has a patchy, uneven coat, it could be because she’s overgrooming or she could be experiencing the effects of alopecia—feline hair loss. This condition might be the result of imbalanced hormones or a diet that is negatively effecting your cat. Consulting a veterinarian is the best way to be sure of the condition and how you should treat it.

In conclusion, understanding what is causing your cat to excessively groom will require you to pay closer attention to your cat’s routines, environmental changes and social interactions. It could take some time, so try to be patient. Consult your vet to help you with answers and solutions, so that your cat can once again have a healthy coat of fur. Thanks for reading, “Why Is My Cat Overgrooming?”