Grooming is a normal behavior in the cat and consists of licking and biting the coat and skin, as well as rubbing the muzzle with the front paws. This is his daily grooming and cleaning routine, also useful for removing parasites and thermoregulation. Felines spend a lot of time licking themselves: this behavior is also linked to your kitty’s physical and emotional well-being and that’s why you need to understand when rubbing becomes excessive.
Get your paws wetPaw licking is how cats clean themselves and is equivalent to us humans putting our hands under water to wash our faces. With their paws they distribute their saliva all over the body and this operation takes a long time. That’s why house cats spend between 30 and 50 percent of their waking time grooming themselves. And because the evaporation of saliva helps them cool down when they’re overheated, paw licking offers the added benefit of heat relief.
Hormonal pleasureAnother reason cats lick each other is simply because they like it. Grooming releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and is therefore a calming activity for them. Seasonal hair loss is also physiological. But if your cat pays too much attention to one specific body part, there’s probably an underlying medical problem. If you think his behavior is excessive, keep an eye on him: look for any changes in his fur and watch for any signs of pain. Then talk to your vet so they can identify the problem and treat it properly before it becomes a bad habit.
Symmetrical alopeciaExcessive grooming is a common acquired problem of cats and the first obvious consequence is alopecia. It usually occurs bilaterally symmetrically and is usually triggered by pruritus. When you see a case of alopecia in your cat, you should first take a systematic approach to establish whether it is indeed excessive grooming or a rarer case of spontaneous alopecia. This requires a detailed medical history, a thorough dermatological examination and a veterinary visit. The most common signs include the presence of hair in the stool, vomiting hairballs or strands of hair scattered around the house.
Not just physical problemsIn addition to the physical aspects, the psychological ones should not be underestimated. Excessive grooming can in fact be due to allergies, fleas, dry skin, a rare neurological condition, neoplasms but above all to much more common causes of stress or anxiety due to environmental changes, such as moving to a new home or suddenly changing one’s habits. Then there are also the perceived threats, such as the presence of another animal in the house, which can lead to this disorder.
Home enrichmentYour vet will be able to help you identify the reasons why your cat is licking too much and suggest what to do to fix the problem. Treatment varies according to the diagnoses and may include specific creams or shampoos, medicines, anti-inflammatories or a new diet. The enrichment of the rooms where your cat likes to stay can be an opportunity to distract your kitty from excessive grooming: green light therefore for games to chase, scratching posts, shelves and shelves on which he can freely climb.