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 cathy@petpundit.com. 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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