Cats are sensitive animals. They may over-react to changes in their routine and surroundings. A significant number of cats will adapt easily to stress, but, there are a few who find adapting more difficult. Stress in cats manifests in a number of different ways: some cats will become withdrawn and refuse to interact with their owners while others may lose their appetite. Some will suffer with stress-related illnesses such as idiopathic cystitis. Some cats may start to over-groom – i.e., excessively lick at the fur – when faced with stressful situations. Here are some suggestions on dealing with this pressing problem of Feline Over-Grooming
Grooming is a normal behavior, designed to keep the cat's coat clean and healthy. It is also a pleasurable experience. Therefore, a cat who's feeling anxious, frustrated or unhappy may begin to groom compulsively.
You may not realize your cat is over-grooming until you notice bald or stubbly areas in your cat’s fur. Stressed cats often concentrate on specific areas; notably, down the middle of their back, on their belly or the inside of their legs. Licking sometimes removes the hair completely, leaving bald patches, but in certain cats there may be only subtle signs, such as a slight rough feeling to the fur where the licking has caused the hairs to break and become short and stubbly.
Although over-grooming is a common reason for hair loss, there are also several medical reasons why a cat may lose her hair, such as pain, parasites, allergies or hormone problems. If the skin becomes itchy or sore, the cat may lick it to ease the discomfort. Deeper pain, for example, the pain associated with cystitis or urinary obstructions, can also cause the cat to lick the skin covering this area. Licking can further irritate the skin, which encourages the cat to lick even more, even when the original medical reason for the cat’s itchy or sore skin has gone. The cat may fall prey to a negative feedback loop which may lead to infection
Just like people, cats are individuals, each with their own preferences and stress tolerance levels. Common causes of stress for cats include:
It may not always be easy to identify the source of your cat's stress. If the issues appear to be psychological, your vet may refer you to a behavioral specialist after having ruled out medical problems.
If you are able to manage the stress at home, here are some hints and tips to help your cat cope at difficult times:
For more information on cat care and management come back to Spalding again soon.
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