Why Would a Cat Lick Off Its Fur?

In the feline world, too much cleanliness sometimes is a bad thing.
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If your cat seems just a tad too concerned with her grooming regimen, don't merely label her a neat freak and write the situation off. Excessive grooming and licking behaviors sometimes can lead to negative consequences, including your poor kitty's hair falling out in conspicuous patches -- no, thank you.

Excessive Grooming

If your cat licks her fur so much that it has actually started falling out, then her grooming practices are very likely far beyond healthy. According to the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, excessive grooming can indicate obsessive and compulsive behavioral patterns. For instance, if your little one is feeling inordinately stressed out about something going on in her life, she may turn to nonstop grooming as a means to focus her energy elsewhere.

Kitty Stress Factors

You may think your cat has it easy -- practically a dream life. After all, she doesn't have to wake up for work at the crack of dawn every morning, pay utility bills or deal with nagging in-laws. However, if you look at it from the point of view of a feline, you may see it differently. Cats have their own daily stress factors, from scary visits to the veterinarian's office to bullying from another pet in the household. When a cat attempts to cope with anxiety by obsessively licking her coat, she essentially is trying to soothe and comfort herself in the midst of a wave of helplessness.


If your cat has an obsessive grooming habit, you'll probably be aware of it by just looking at her. After all, her little pink tongue probably will be in contact with her hair every time you look her way. Beyond that, however, obsessive grooming and licking often triggers massive clumps of hair falling out. If you notice your cat sporting some rather awkward bald spots all over her coat, you probably know the score. Excessive licking also often leads to the emergence of raw looking wounds on a cat's skin -- ouch.


Once you realize that your fluffball has a grooming problem, you can take the first step in getting her back to health by figuring out what exactly is causing her so much stress and nervousness. For example, if you just moved to a new apartment in a new city, the unfamiliarity of the whole situation may just be driving your cat batty. To make things easier on your cutie, make a point to spend more time with her and give her quality attention every day, no matter how hectic things may be for you. A little bit of TLC can go a long way with frustrated felines.

If your pet's anxiety issue is beyond your control, consult a veterinarian. The vet may be able to recommend to your pet a stress-reduction medication, at least for short-term use. Never offer your cat any type of medicine without the prior approval of a vet. Apart from psychological issues, over-grooming and hair loss also could be related to a variety of medical conditions, including ringworm, ear mites, mange and feline immunodeficiency virus. The sooner you know what's going on with your cat, the quicker you can get her the help she so deserves.

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