Excessive grooming is a common disorder for indoor cats, unfortunately. If your cat is over-grooming himself, it’s important to get to the root of the matter. This means eliminating other possible skin issues and addressing the stress.
There are many reasons that cats can develop skin issues that irritate them. Poor quality diets, allergies to a flea bite or even sensitives to certain ingredients in the food can create skin problems. A vet visit is in order if this issue suddenly arrives because we want to first figure out what’s really going on.
Once you’ve ruled out other possible skin issues, it’s time to look at our cats’ environment.
The medical field calls over grooming in cats psychogenic alopecia – and Dr. Karen Becker DVM states that this “often begins as what’s called a displacement behavior.” Cats love routine so if your cat has a change in their environment he can begin to feel ‘displaced’.
Now, we don’t always think that something in their world has changed, but to our cats the story is often different. Maybe they saw a stray cat outside the window and felt their territory was threatened. Even something as simple as rearranging furniture can often stress out our kitties.
We’ve found that, regardless of the cause behind the stress, you can help reduce your cat’s over grooming by increasing their environmental enrichment. Give them more vertical space. Take them outside for a walk or build them a catio in the yard. Exercising your kitties on a routine and regular basis really helps to reduce their stress. Feed your cats at the same time every day… this is a big one for reducing anxiety!
Many veterinarians will simply prescribe medications like prozac that can turn your cat into a shell of their formal self. Before resorting to these methods, let’s do our due diligence as cat parents to help reduce their stress at home!