In detail

Overgrooming: cat is constantly cleaning itself


Cats are clean animals who like to devote themselves extensively to grooming their fur. But there are also velvet paws that cannot stop cleaning. This compulsive behavior is called overgrooming. But when is it too much of a good thing? And: What is the underlying cause of cleaning addiction? If a cat is constantly grooming, there is talk of overgrooming - Image: Shutterstock / turlakova

If a cat goes overboard with grooming, there is talk of overgrooming. The compulsive behavior can have both physical and psychological causes. In any case, you should see a veterinarian if you suspect your cat is affected.

How much cleaning is normal?

Cats are neat animals. Not every cat that cleans up suffers from an illness immediately. On average, a cat takes about three and a half hours of grooming a day with breaks in between. The four-legged friends prefer to wash themselves after sleeping, eating, hunting or intensive social contacts. Cleaning can take just a few seconds or up to ten minutes.

Why do cats groom themselves?

Grooming has several functions. The cat not only keeps itself clean, it also stimulates the blood supply to the skin. The constant licking, tugging and plucking of the fur encourages the sebaceous glands to secrete fat. This makes the fur beautifully supple and water-repellent. A freshly cleaned coat protects the cat from weather influences such as cold and moisture.

Brushing fur also releases happiness hormones. It also serves to relieve physical tension, such as in stress or anxiety situations. So what does it mean when a cat is constantly grooming?

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Overgrooming and its causes

The exaggerated and compulsive cleaning behavior of cats is called overgrooming. In his cleaning madness, the animal no longer responds to the address from its owner. In favor of grooming, the four-legged friend ignores everything else that is dear to him. This also includes treats and the favorite toy.

The reasons why cats are constantly grooming can be physical. It can be a sign of allergies, yeast infections, pain or diabetes mellitus. Parasites such as mites are also conceivable. Because the associated skin irritation cats try to alleviate with frequent cleaning.

Since grooming also has a stress-relieving function, overgrooming can also have psychological causes. There is an indication that the cat may experience agitation and stress. Possible reasons for this are, for example, a hectic household, a lack of retreat or a change of owner.

Often, overgrooming is not just a matter of licking the parts of the body; affected cats sometimes even tear their fur. Bald spots, skin irritation and deep wounds can result.

Cat is constantly grooming - what to do?

If you notice excessive grooming behavior in your cat, you should see a veterinarian. He can identify a possible medical cause behind the constant cleaning.

If the behavior is due to a psychological cause, it can help if you observe and record the behavior of your animal. This way you can find out exactly what triggers your cat's stress and agitation. If the stress-triggering factors are finally eliminated, then the compulsive cleaning also decreases.


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