Signs of Excessive Grooming in Cats

Most cats groom themselves on and off throughout the day. Grooming not only keeps them clean, but cats also use grooming to improve their mental health, an upset cat will often groom itself to relieve stress. Some cats have problems with excessive, or compulsive grooming, which can be a problem.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is the most common sign of excessive grooming, and one that is easy to see. Typically this hair loss will occur in certain places, according to where the cat grooms itself. Cats cannot reach the back of their necks, so when hair is missing from other places, such as their tummy, back, or legs, but not missing from the back of their neck, excessive grooming may be the cause. By the time the cat suffers hair loss, the case of compulsive grooming is quite progressed.

Cat is Vomiting Hairballs

Of course most cats do have hairballs from time to time, however often hairballs are associated with a cat being on a lower quality cat food, thus making the cat shed more than it should. If a cat is on a good quality cat food, one with chicken meal, or lamb meal, as a first ingredient, rather than corn, or something other than actual meat, and has hairballs on a regular basis, they should be monitored for excessive grooming.

Cat is Seen Grooming Itself Repeatedly

Of course if a cat is witnessed grooming itself over, and over, it may be suffering from compulsive grooming. Specifically if the cat is biting an area, or grooming the same part of its body for more than five minutes at a time. Most cats will groom themselves several times a day, spending no more than a few minutes each time, unless they were just outside in the rain or something like that.

What do Do About Excessive Grooming

Excessive grooming can be the result of a food allergy, skin irritation, stress, aging, or other health concern. The first thing an owner should do is investigate their pet for signs of fleas or ticks. Worms may be a problem if the cat is repeatedly grooming its rectum. The cat food should be checked to be sure it contains meat as the first ingredient, many use corn, wheat, or even by-products, as filler. Cats are true carnivores and many have problems with corn.

Declawed cats, cats that live in active households, or who are tormented by children or other pets, may suffer from stress and resort to compulsive grooming to ease their minds. Older cats, who become senile and confused may also groom themselves excessively to make themselves feel better, and cover themselves with their own soothing scent.  For these cats it is best to make them feel more comfortable in their homes, thus reducing their level of anxiety.  Bach Flower remedy may also help lower their stress level.