Although grooming is normal cat behavior, they can have a condition known as over-grooming. Like obsessive compulsive disorder in human beings, the animal grooms excessively to the point of harm. Learn how you can spot the symptoms of this disorder and help your feline back to health.
Over-grooming is caused by stress. There could have a new pet to deal with, a new baby, or other changes in household routines. A feline's grooming is equivalent to a human receiving a massage. So, the animal grooms more and more in an attempt to alleviate anxiety.
Excessive grooming is more common in females and in cats of oriental descent. Also, those with nervous temperaments are more likely to exhibit the behavior.
Bald spots will likely be the first noticeable sign of an excessive grooming problem. Often, the legs are the favorite spots to groom. A veterinary examination is crucial to rule out serious conditions that cause bald patches such as allergies, thyroid problems, bacterial pyoderma, fleas, ringworms, or mites.
Several choices are available for treating over-grooming that is due to stress. You can try to do away with the reason why the behavior began in the first place. For instance, if you got a new pet, you may have to separate the two animals for days or weeks. This may not stop the excessive grooming because the behavior could now be a habit.
Distraction is another tactic. Play regularly with your pet and consider getting an aquarium or feline video to provide hours of entertainment.
Another method is using behavior modification techniques which you can learn from an animal behaviorist. Medicines used in humans to reduce anxiety can be helpful, or try OTC remedies such as Bach's Rescue Remedy.
If you are persistent in pursuing various treatments and work with your vet, you should be able to at least reduce your cat's suffering from over-grooming.