Compulsive Licking in Cats

Excessive licking is often a nervous behavior in cats.
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You may smile at the sight of your fluff ball meticulously grooming her coat day in and day out. However, instead of your cat being a classic clean freak, she may instead be exhibiting signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior -- and serious anxiety and stress. Definitely not a good thing.

Obsessive Licking

If you notice your kitty licking and grooming her fur like there's no tomorrow, it may just be her version of anxiously pacing back and forth in a room or biting off all her nails. Instead of being uber-concerned about having a perfectly glossy and shiny coat, your cat may just be on edge and not really know what to do with herself -- poor thing.

Physical Health Causes

Before you make any assumptions about your kitty's compulsive licking issue, schedule an appointment with her veterinarian pronto. In some cases, excessive licking has absolutely nothing to do with a cat's emotional health. Rather, it may be related to various medical ailments including parasites, fleas, Cushing's disease, thyroid issues and infections. The sooner you determine what your cat's root problem is, the sooner you can get her on track to solving it -- and stopping her compulsive licking habit.


Aside from physical health issues, stress is a major culprit behind obsessive licking habits in felines. Simply put, cats as a general rule detest change, whether it's moving to a different house across the country or losing the companionship of an owner or fellow pet. Uncertainty and unfamiliarity can drive a cat mad, resulting in severe anxiety, and as a result, often compulsive licking behaviors. Apart from change, cats also don't usually do very well with conflict. If a cat senses tension in her surroundings, it may cause her to react very negatively and engage in compulsive, repetitive behaviors.


If your fluff ball's compulsive licking is indeed related to stress and not medical causes, you can try to step in and manage the problem before it gets any worse. In some cases, obsessive licking can lead to huge clumps of your pet's coat falling out, or even worse, skin infection! Not good.

Spending some quality time with your lonely or stressed out cat can go a long way in getting her back to her old carefree self. Set aside at least 15 minutes each day to play or cuddle with your cat, whether you throw around her favorite laser ball or simply hug her close while you read before going to bed. Also consider setting up a quiet sanctuary in your home for your cat to escape chaos and confusion from changes in environment, such as a new pet or newborn baby. Just a few easy measures can go a long way in easing your precious pet's anxiety and disorientation.

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