A cat’s excessive licking does not only entail extreme grooming habits, but it can be related to stress and anxiety as well, which may make a cat go bald and/or develop sores.
What Cat Excessive Licking Means
- Dry skin
The dry air during the winter or inadequate nutrition can make the skin dry and flaky; this will urge your cat to lick the area for relief.
Like how some people develop skin irritation as a response to environmental triggers or a particular food, cats can also develop an itchy and irritated skin if they are allergic to something. They may then resort to licking.
Pain is also a potential reason for excessive licking. If your cat is licking the same area over and over, it may be due to pain and/or discomfort from that certain spot.
Fleas are often the ones to blame when a cat is excessively licking, scratching, or biting particular areas in the body. If your cat is obsessively licking his lower back but does not have any scabs on the neck, fleas may be causing the problem. Ticks, mites, ringworms, and other parasites can also trigger licking, scratching, and biting/chewing.
- Boredom, stress, anxiety, or compulsive disorder
A cat’s excessive licking behaviour may be developed when cats experience boredom, stress, or anxiety. Like humans, cats are vulnerable to unconsciously-developed behaviours due to mental or emotional strain. These conditions are likely to happen to indoor cats who receive lesser excitement and exercise than outdoor cats. Most often, compulsive disorders begin when there is a trigger in the cat’s environment, such as:
- Moving to a new house or a sudden change in environment.
- A new family member, like a baby or an additional pet.
How to Stop a Cat’s Excessive Licking Habit
- Play with your cat
Since boredom can be the cause of this compulsive behaviour, take time to play with your cat. You should set some time to do stimulating activities and games with your cat. Also, invest in providing a good environment for your cat, such as getting lots of interactive toys and/or a cat tree.
- Eliminating parasites
Since flea infestation can be difficult to diagnose, some vets may recommend you to try out reliable flea control products to see if the compulsive behaviour of your cat has reduced. Treating parasites, if present, can help your cat feel more at ease and may also help with the behaviour issue.
Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids depending on the severity of the skin damage caused by the excessive licking. In addition, compulsive behaviour as a result of psychological factors/mental or emotional strain can be addressed with anti-anxiety medication, amitriptyline, or clomipramine.
- Herbal remedies and natural alternatives
If you are searching for herbal remedies to help ease and calm your cat, consult your veterinarian for his or her recommendations; this may include chamomile, rosemary, lavender, or any other calming properties. Do not offer anything to your cat without the approval of your veterinarian. Additionally, the ASPCA suggests the use of catnip or cat grass for a quick, safe, and easy way to redirect your cat’s licking habit. When it comes to dealing with your cat’s stress, anxiety, etc., never underestimate natural alternatives in helping your cat to recover.
- Addressing anxiety or boredom
Once your vet has confirmed that there are no physical factors that caused your cat’s excessive licking behaviour, there are ways you can do to help improve your cat’s state of mind. You should make sure that your cat feels comfortable, safe, and loved by gradually and carefully introducing her to things she fears or anything that triggers her anxiety until she no longer feels horrified about it.
- Consult a veterinarian
When your cat is experiencing any form of compulsive behaviours, schedule a trip to the vet. As excessive licking can be caused by various reasons besides stress and parasites, your cat may be suffering from medical conditions such as cystitis and hyperthyroidism. If your cat is indeed experiencing a medical problem that has led to excessive licking, veterinarians will be your best aid to treat the problem.
Know more about preventive measures prior to different cat health concerns here!