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Merlin: Overgrooming

Education > Patient Stories 10th April 2019
 


When Anita and family first met Merlin at SPCA, there was instant connection. He is a shy but sweet dog-like cat who enjoys cuddles. For months, Merlin was ‘pantless’ - losing fur from his belly and thighs due to overgrooming.

Gradually, he settled into his new home and new life. Overgrooming stopped, fur grew back. His coat is gorgeous and glossy. Handsome Merlin has a new favourite way to destress - meditating by the house pond.



MEDICAL CAUSES OF OVERGROOMING

Our cats may lick or chew an area that is itchy or painful. Common causes include fleas, ringworm, food allergies, wounds, arthritis.

  • Speak with our vets about skin scrapes, fungal cultures, allergy testing.
  • Check for any sores hidden beneath your cat’s fluffy coat.
  • Pay attention to senior or overweight cats with painful joints.




BEHAVIOURAL CAUSES OF OVERGROOMING (PSYCHOGENIC ALOPECIA)

Grooming releases endorphins (‘feel good’ hormone). Cats groom to calm themselves if they are stressed over changes such as a new environment, change in routine or perceived threat.

  • Remove any known stressor
  • Provide environmental enrichment (toys, playtime, playmates)
  • Create safe cosy hiding spots
  • Try feline pheromone diffusers like Feliway to calm your cats



Regardless of the cause, overgrooming may cause bacterial infections that require treatment. Some cats benefit from wearing an Elizabethan collar to break the cycle of licking. Brush our cats regularly to prevent them from ingesting fur balls.