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Excessive Grooming in Cats: What Does It Mean?

August 04, 2021

Excessive Grooming in Cats: What Does It Mean?

This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.

Sometimes cats get so fed up with our s$%t, that they rip out their own hair. Just kidding, but only partially. Cats can become so distressed that they groom themselves until there is no hair left. This has a few causes, with the most common one being stress. In this article, I am going to outline my approach to these ‘fed up with life’ kitties.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Excessively Grooming

First, I make sure that kitties who are over-grooming are otherwise healthy. I start by getting some baseline blood and urine tests. If these come back with no abnormalities, I consider the location of their bald spots. If cats are excessively grooming over the stomach or flanks, I recommend an abdominal ultrasound. Cats with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can have terrible stomach aches, and are often just trying to soothe themselves by grooming their stomach. If they are excessively grooming over a limb or joint, I recommend taking x-rays to look for arthritis. Body pain can trigger these episodes.

If these tests come back unremarkable, I recommend trying a diet change to treat any stomach upset that the abdominal ultrasound didn’t pick up. For kitties, I like doing a single, novel protein diet like venison, rabbit or duck. This means that the diet only has this protein source and no other meats. I also like to treat possible body pain with acupuncture, chiropractic, CBD and pharmaceuticals.

If the above recommendations fail, I assume these kitties are stressed and overwhelmed with life. I can’t teach them transcendental meditation, so I follow these steps instead:

  • Hemp derived CBD. I always start with hemp derived CBD because it’s easy to give and has been extremely effective in my practice.
  • More play. Just like people, cats need to play too. I like using toys like Da Bird to play with before each meal. This recreates the prey cycle for your kitty.
  • Address stress/conflict between kitties. You may need help with this. Check out Mieshelle at The Cat Behavior Clinic. She can create a custom plan for you and your kitties to help them decompress and destress.
  • Consider pharmaceuticals. Just like humans, cats benefit from drugs like Prozac too. I have seen a little vitamin P change kitty’s lives for the better! Talk with your veterinarian about these drugs and see if your cat may benefit. If after 4-6 weeks, you don’t see any improvement, you don’t have to continue therapy. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian, as some of these drugs require a weaning process.
  • Help them get away from household stressors. New pets, babies, construction, and schedule changes can stress your cat out. Be sure your kitty always has a way to escape the threats and sounds of these stressors. Check out these amazing wall shelves for cat’s here.

Your cat is lucky to be loved by you! Keep up the good work.

Big hugs,

Dr. Angie


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