Treating an over-grooming cat


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Treating an over-grooming cat

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

Our 15-year-old male cat has started pulling tufts of fur from his legs with his teeth. He pulled fur from a two-inch spot. Any suggestions?

– Mike, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Mike,

Poor guy! Cats may pull out fur because they itch. Do you use a monthly flea preventative? Sometimes people don’t treat their indoor cats, but they still can get fleas. 

Most often though, the cat is an over-groomer. This is typically an anxiety-based behavior that results in a cat pulling, chewing, or excessively grooming their fur, leaving bald spots on their bodies, especially on their abdomen and legs. Grooming is a behavior that relaxes cats, so if they are stressed or anxious about something, they will groom more often and with much more force. 

While there are over-the-counter calming supplements for cats, over-grooming can also be the result of pain. I suggest visiting your veterinarian to determine which it is, so you can properly treat his condition.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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