Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
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
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
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.
Researchers have finally determined
what killed Knut, the world-famous polar
bear who suddenly died at age 4.
Looking for a canine who won’t leave a
trail of fur in his wake? We polled 249
experts on which dogs they recommend.
The inspiring new film, based on the true
story of a hoarder’s dog turned therapy
dog, opens nationwide Friday.
It can be hard to resist the wild-looking
Ocicat, with his short, spotted coat,
intelligent mind and playful…
The gentle, affectionate and sociable Selkirk Rex is a good traveler and excellent therapy cat.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.