Cats are known for their self-grooming abilities, which are natural and instinctive behaviors. Grooming is essential for cats to maintain a healthy coat, stimulate blood circulation, regulate body temperature, and remove parasites from their hair. Furthermore, grooming helps cats heal injuries, alleviate stress and boredom, and strengthen their bond with other cats. While it is normal for cats to groom themselves regularly, excessive self-grooming can lead to bald spots and irritation, which may indicate an underlying issue.
There are several reasons why cats may over-groom themselves. One of the most common reasons is itchiness caused by hypersensitivity, parasites, and fungal or bacterial infections. For instance, fleas, mites, lice, and ticks can cause immense discomfort and irritation on a cat’s skin whenever they bite. Fungal infections, also known as ringworm, may also lead to itchiness and bald, scabby spots around a cat’s body. Bacterial infections are typically secondary to existing injuries and can worsen lesions, leading to pain and itching. Consequently, cats may scratch, bite, and pull out their hair, causing bald spots.
In addition to itchiness, cats may excessively groom themselves due to pain in the area. Open wounds, for example, are painful and uncomfortable, and a cat’s way of relieving the pain may be through licking and chewing on the injured site. Cats can also experience compulsive behavior such as psychogenic alopecia, which is caused by stress and anxiety. Stressors such as changes in the environment, introduction of a new pet or child in the house, and lack of exercise or playtime, can cause cats to excessively groom themselves, leading to bald spots and lesions.
If you suspect that your cat is over-grooming themselves or removing excess chunks of hair, it is crucial to take them to a veterinarian before the condition worsens. The vet will take a medical history of your cat, perform a physical examination, and conduct additional tests on your cat’s skin and hair. Depending on the underlying cause of your cat’s self-grooming behavior, the vet may formulate a treatment plan that is most appropriate for your cat.
In conclusion, while self-grooming is a normal behavior for cats, excessive self-grooming can cause bald spots and irritation, indicating an underlying issue. Hypersensitivity, parasites, fungal, and bacterial infections, pain, and stress can all lead to excessive grooming behavior in cats. Therefore, it is crucial to take your cat to the vet if you suspect that they are over-grooming themselves. As a cat owner, you can prevent excessive grooming by providing a stress-free environment, regular veterinary checkups, and keeping your cat from pulling out any more hair from their back.