Cat Overgrooming: Reasons for It and Remedies

by catfood

Cat overgrooming behaviors that don’t have a medical basis are called psychogenic alopecia. Despite the fact that your cat doesn’t deal with office politics and gets to sleep for 16 hours a day, stress and cat behavior problems typically go hand in hand. Many cats experience nervous breakdowns when under too much stress. In contrast to some people, nervous cats may overgroom as a result, as opposed to developing ulcers.

RELATED: Why Do Cats Groom and Lick Themselves So Often?


Why Do Cats Groom Too Much?

Overgrooming is the practice of a cat grooming itself continuously for an extremely lengthy period of time. This could result in skin sores and hair loss. When a cat licks itself, endorphins, which are naturally occurring “feel good” neurotransmitters, are released. The molecules that give self-grooming its relaxing effect are these endorphins. As a result, if your cat is stressed, it may exhibit this relaxing behavior.

The majority of cat owners report that they have never seen their pets doing lick fests. This may be the case because the cat feels safer in the presence of its owner and resists the need to lick itself to relax.

The cat might start to feel uneasy and overgroom itself when the owner isn’t present.

If you do detect your cat overgrooming, don’t correct it. Simply putting more stress on yourself will only make things worse.

Why Do Cats Bathe Too Frequently?

Examples of the accumulated pressures that make up the pervasive type of stress that commonly causes psychogenic alopecia include permanent changes to routine and environment. This may also occur when a particular family member is absent due to a funeral, divorce, extended work hours, vacation, or leaving for college, as well as:

  • The advent of a new human or animal family member
  • Transferring to a new home
  • Rearrange some or all of the furniture.
  • Changing where the litter box is located
  • Lack of environmental enrichment for cats
  • Residing in a disorganized residence

Some cats may overgroom as a result of medical problems. For instance, if your cat scratches a lot, it can be attempting to remove the scratch. Certain foods, parasites, or other environmental conditions can cause cats to develop allergies. Take into account any recent dietary or environmental changes that may be the cause of the behavior. If you suspect your cat has an allergy, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian dermatologist so they can test the cat and see if that is the issue.


  • You’ll see a line or stripe of very short stubble that resembles a buzz-cut if your cat is overgrooming. Results from behavioral modification programs or drugs require time and persistence to see. If the behavior is excessive, the skin beneath the fur may become wounded, appear red, or feel irritated.

Ways to Reduce Over-Grooming

The diagnosis of psychogenic alopecia must be confirmed by a veterinarian, who must also rule out any other medical conditions. In the interim, make an effort to pinpoint the cause of your cat’s nervousness. The behavior may finally come to an end on its own if you can identify the cause of the issue and solve it. The following techniques could be used to lessen your cat’s anxiety and excessive grooming:

  • Ask the individual to leave behind an unwashed clothing or blanket in a zipped ziplock bag if their absence is making your cat anxious. This could offer your cat, who is upset, a fragrance pick-me-up.
  • Introduce a new cat gradually to reduce stress levels for both parties. Even confident cats are capable of having underlying stress, which manifests as unpleasant licking.
  • Play therapy is a great way to unwind. It can help your cat gain self-confidence and form positive relationships with the new place, a new pet, or a new person. The best games, like cat laser tag or chase-the-fishing-pole lure, need input from the player.
  • Feliway is a pheromone spray or plug-in that has potential as a stress reliever. Feliway and other artificial pheromone products have a scent that is similar to that which cats naturally release. It has a calming effect and can be rubbed or sprayed on objects.

During the examination, the doctor will rule out any potential medical reasons for your cat’s compulsive grooming. This includes conditions including allergies, flea infestation, skin mites, ringworm, bacterial or fungal illnesses, and metabolic conditions like hyperthyroidism. To assist in making the right diagnosis, your veterinarian may use skin biopsies, laboratory tests, and a thorough physical examination. Any medicinal therapy may be modified in response to the veterinarian’s findings.

Without a medical diagnosis, excessive licking tends to require veterinary anti-anxiety medication therapy to break the cycle of licking. Most of the time, rather than for the remainder of its life, the cat simply needs to take these medications momentarily to help it deal with stress. Always follow your veterinarian’s advice if your cat is administered any anti-anxiety medications. Anywhere on your cat’s body can be impacted, but the foreleg, inner thigh, or belly are the most commonly troubled regions.

Be warned that any treatment for psychogenic alopecia may have short-term negative effects. If your cat has a tendency to overgroom, this could occur at any time and be an indication that your cat is feeling irritated once more.



If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your family pet, know the pet’s health history, and may make the best recommendations for your pet.

Wondering about Reasons Why Your Cat Might Be Stressed? Check it out on our latest post!


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