Although you may look at your obsessive groomer of a cat and admire her impressive cleanliness, her behavior actually may have some downfalls. Not only can licking too much bring upon loss of fur in felines, it also can be a sign that something is amiss -- not good.
About Excessive Grooming
Constant licking in a cat can bring upon some unpleasant consequences, including significant loss of hair and even the emergence of skin wounds. If your cat's licking seems to take up a little too much of her time, consider the possibility that it may be related to a medical condition, or perhaps even to severe stress and anxiety. The licking may be more than a simple desire to be clean, even though cats are famously immaculate little creatures!
Add Some Excitement to Your Kitty's Life
Frustration and boredom can cause a cat to take on a compulsive behavior, such as licking. For example, if your kitty is bored and frustrated that she can't go outside to chase after the birds she sees from the window, she may take on a "displacement behavior" like licking as a means to cope with her angst. If you suspect that your cat's habit is a result of boredom and frustration, do your part to help spice up her daily existence, whether you set aside a few minutes a day to partake in stimulating play games (think laser light tag and hide and seek) with her or invest in a climbing tree. Do what you can to ensure that your cat's life is as fulfilling, brain-jogging and diverse as possible.
One of the most troubling stress factors in a feline's life is change. Cats love their routines, and when something in their lives changes dramatically, they don't like it one bit. Whether you moved to a new home or adopted a new French bulldog puppy, you may observe your kitty reacting negatively and perhaps taking on some obsessive behavioral patterns in order to deal with her feelings of uncertainty and confusion. One 100 percent natural way to ease your cat's stress -- and perhaps end her nonstop licking -- is by offering her a temporary safe haven to deal with the transitional period in her life. Set aside a temporary sanctuary for your cutie somewhere in your home, preferably far away from chaos and any other pets. Fill the area with all of her creature comforts, including food, water, treats, a bed, scratching posts and even some fun interactive toys. Sometimes all a cat needs to get back on track is some space and peace -- you probably can relate!
If you're looking for an herbal remedy to calm your precious pet down and ease her anxiety, speak to your veterinarian before you make any decisions. Ask the vet about any safe recommendations she may have for you, whether rosemary, chamomile, lavender or anything else. Never offer your cat anything without the prior approval of the vet. When it comes to dealing with your kitty's stress, however, never underestimate the power of naturally helping her through lifestyle changes, whether big or small.
While you're making natural adjustments to solve your cat's possible stress-related licking problem, take your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup just to be safe. According to Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, obsessive licking can be a result of conditions other than stress. Your cat's nonstop licking could in fact be due to a variety of medical conditions, including hyperthyroidism and cystitis. If your cat's condition is indeed related to a disorder such as hyperthyroidism, stay away from the natural remedies and adjustments and speak to the veterinarian about management solutions.
Healthy and Natural Alternatives
If your sweet kitty has a penchant for licking not only himself but also people and other items around your home, provide him with a natural and healthy alternative to focus his mouth on. The ASPCA recommends catnip or cat grass for these purposes -- both quick, totally safe and easy options that will redirect your cat's licking focus -- phew! If chewing is also an issue along with the licking, The Cornell Feline Health Center suggests giving your pet parsley, catmint or oat grass.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Obsessive Grooming
- ASPCA: Obsessive Grooming
- Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Compulsive Behavior
- ASPCA: Compulsive Behavior in Cats
- ASPCA: Cats Who Suckle and Lick People
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Destructive Cat Behavior
- Animal Planet: Safe and Unsafe Plant List
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images