Grooming Excessively in Cats

Why is my cat grooming excessively?
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What is Grooming Excessively?

It is completely normal for a cat to groom on a daily basis. In fact, almost 30 to 50% of their entire day is spent on cleaning themselves. These animals are tidy and have a desire to remain up kept and orderly as often as possible. Because of this, most owners don’t notice when the line is crossed between normal and excessive grooming. Once grooming reaches the point where it is physically affecting the cat (such as loss of hair and skin irritation), it is then an issue that needs to be addressed. 

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (like in humans)
  • Fleas
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Skin allergies

The biggest sign of excessive grooming is baldness on the abdomen. Although excessive grooming is not life threatening, if you notice this problem in your cat it is best to get them to a vet to determine the best course of action for ceasing the excessive behavior. This problem can be frustrating to treat and usually isn’t curable, but it doesn’t cause a serious threat to the overall health of the cat.

Why Grooming Excessively Occurs in Cats

There are a few primary reasons why excessive grooming occurs in cats: behavioral habits, fleas, and allergies. Any one of these situations, or a combination, may cause your cat to groom excessively throughout the day. It will be difficult to determine what the cause of the grooming just by sight alone, so it is best to get your feline into a vet for regular checkups in order to resolve the issue efficiently.   

Behavioral Grooming

When it comes to determining whether or not excessive grooming is behavioral, things can get a little difficult. This is because some cats simply will not perform the excessive behavior when their owner is around. Pay attention to the amount of hairballs that appear in your home. When cat’s excessively groom, they cough up a great amount of hairballs. This can be a good indicator that your cat has a grooming problem. A major cause for behavioral grooming is change. Cats are creatures of habit and any large change can be extremely stressful for them. If you have experienced something like a big move or a new animal coming into the home, this may be the reason for such excessive behavior and it should dissipate on its own over time. 


After discovering your cat is excessively grooming, check their skin for fleas or lice that may be hiding within the fur. If such mites are present, your cat may be having a hypertensive reaction to the flea’s saliva. The best thing to do in this case is to have a veterinarian intervene. Treatment will be required in order to remove the problem. 


Allergies in general may be the cause for your cat’s discomfort. There are quite a few to consider, such as:

  • Food intolerance
  • House dust/pollen
  • Ear mites
  • Bug bites

In such cases, most often a vet will need to prescribe a kind of medication to help alleviate the allergy symptoms. If food is the problem, you can try feeding them an alternative diet for 6-8 weeks to see if that helps. Your vet will need to help decide on your cat’s new diet, as it is not as simple as switching the brand of cat food.

What to do if your Cat is Grooming Excessively

If you notice that your cat’s grooming habits have exceeded the norm, the first thing you will want to do is determine whether the problem is stress or health related. Stress may be brought on through a move or a new family member (animal or human). This problem is usually forgotten in a month or so, and can be eased through extra love and perhaps new toys to keep the cat’s mind off the change.  

However, if stress is ruled out, you will want to talk with your vet to clarify what health issue may be causing the problem. Excessive grooming is typically a life-long problem and you will want to be equipped with the best methods possible to help keep the issue at a minimum. Allergies, fleas, and other potential infestation of mites will require medications and professional help to clear up.

Prevention of Grooming Excessively

Excessive grooming can be difficult to prevent. If you know that you are going to be making a major change in the future, be sure to make the transition as stress free as possible for your cat. Give lots of extra love and attention to your feline and perhaps provide toys, comfortable bedding, and a familiar space (a crate, bed, or box) that they can escape to.  

You can try to avoid allergies by paying careful attention to what your cat is sensitive to. If you catch the problem soon enough, you can make a steady food switch with the help of your vet. Keeping windows closed during allergy season and cleaning your house often will help to cut down on the build-up of pollen and dust, which is a potential irritant. 

Flea control such as Advantage, Frontline, and Revolution are just a few effective tools that can be discussed with your vet. Do not use flea collars, flea bombs, or flea comb to try and control the problem because these methods are not only ineffective, but also dangerous.

Cost of Grooming Excessively

Treatment cost will vary depending on the underlying causes of your cat’s excessive grooming. For example, treatment for anxiety has an average cost of $500 depending on the severity. If your cat is diagnosed with a ragweed allergy, the cost to treat may be approximately $500 as well.

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