Click here to learn more.
Cats have a reputation for being precise self-groomers who can sometimes go overboard with their fastidious preening. It’s not uncommon for cat owners, alarmed to find a bald spot near a kitty’s belly or armpit, to ask their veterinarian for advice about handling excessive grooming.
Contrary to popular opinion, licking off entire patches of fur isn’t typically related to a behavioral problem in felines, says board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, of the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital. In fact, it’s usually a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as parasites or a food allergy.
Significant hair loss in one spot may indicate an external parasite — mites, ticks or fleas, in particular — or a fungal infection, such as ringworm. Once skin scrapes or blood samples are tested, a veterinarian can usually confirm the cause and treat the diagnosed condition with the right medication.
If it's a diagnosed food allergy that's causing the excessive grooming, the problem can be addressed with dietary adjustments, such as a veterinarian-prescribed hypoallergenic diet.
In some cases, a cat may also be trying to get at a source of pain caused by an internal problem, including kidney stones.
If a veterinarian rules out a medical problem, the next step is to look for new environmental stressors, such as a new pet, baby or boyfriend. “Cat overgrooming is similar to people playing with their hair,” says Dr. Sueda. "You do it more when you’re nervous."
Behavior modification and training can help reduce a cat’s stress levels. In the case of a new animal in the home, owners can give the overly stressed cat extra attention or private space away from the newcomer.
Regardless of the cause, hair loss and overgrooming are usually clues that something’s wrong, so consult with your vet sooner rather than later.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
The U.S. Secret Service took to Twitter to
highlight its hero K9s, who stopped a man
who jumped the White House…
A 16-year-old boy who lost his right foot
immediately bonded with a Dachshund
mix who had to have his leg amputated.
In honor of this special day, we're
highlighting some of our favorite stories
about Pit Bulls from this past year.
Mikkel Becker shares five simple training
tactics for teaching your cat to tolerate (or
even like) being picked up…
Over-the-counter medications that seem
harmless to you can actually be harmful
or even deadly for your cat or dog.
Want a pet hedgehog? Dr. Laurie Hess
shares why the prickly creatures need
time, attention and care to thrive.
The Russian Blue won’t mind if you have to go to work (to earn money for cat toys), as long as you're back in time for…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.