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Cat Behavior: Overgrooming

Cat Behavior: Overgrooming


If your cat is excessively grooming herself in one area or has licked the hair off of a part of her body, a veterinary exam is needed to determine if there are any medical causes.

Itchy or painful condition H2

Itchy or painful condition H3

Itchy or painful condition H4

Itchy or painful condition H5
Itchy or painful condition H6

A cat may lick a spot on her body that is itching or painful. If pain is the issue, the licking will focus on the painful area. Compulsive licking near the tail may indicate a flea infestation, while cats with pollen or food allergies may lick their backs, abdomens or other areas.

Stress and anxiety

Excessive licking can be a “displacement behavior”—a coping mechanism for stress. Licking releases endorphins that help an anxious cat self-soothe, but it can become a habit if the source of the problem persists. Changes, such as a recent move, the addition or loss of another pet, or a change of schedule can cause anxiety in cats. Add cat-friendly high places where your cat can retreat and feel safe, keep routines consistent, and play with your cat. Anti-anxiety medications may help.