Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 26.2 Other Scientific

How I approach… Overgrooming in cats

Published 01/04/2021

Written by Kate Griffiths

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

Grooming is a normal cat behavior, involving licking and nibbling of the hair and skin, and facial rubbing with the forepaws. Its purpose is for cleaning, removal of parasites, and thermoregulation.

Overgrooming caused by environmental hypersensitivity

Key points

Alopecia from overgrooming should be distinguished from spontaneous hair loss and requires a systematic approach to establish the underlying cause.


Most cases of overgrooming are caused by pruritus, particularly due to ectoparasites and hypersensitivities.


Pruritic causes should be eliminated before a diagnosis of psychogenic alopecia is made.


What is overgrooming?

Grooming is a normal cat behavior, involving licking and nibbling of the hair and skin, and facial rubbing with the forepaws. Its purpose is for cleaning, removal of parasites, and thermoregulation 1. However, overgrooming is a common, acquired problem of cats in which excessive licking and grooming results in hair loss. It usually presents as bilaterally symmetrical alopecia, affecting the ventral abdomen, caudal and medial aspects of the hind legs and perineum (Figure 1), although the lateral abdomen and other areas may also become alopecic 2 (Figure 2). 
 


 

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