Everyone knows that cats are very good at keeping themselves clean. Sometimes, however, felines can do this to excess and develop what’s called psychogenic alopecia or baldness due to over-grooming. The behavior is thought of a way for cats to deal with physical or emotional problems.
Just as in people, if your feline pal shows unusual behavior, it could be due to an underlying physical issue. The most common of these include:
- physical illness: your cat could be suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition such as a mite or ringworm infestation or, if the cat is older, kidney disease.
- an excess of fleas and/or ticks: even if your cat lives indoors, he/she can still attract parasites that might have found their way inside on your clothing. Both fleas and ticks can irritate cats’ skin, causing them to chew off chunks of fur in an attempt to alleviate the incessant itching.
- a poor diet: cats who don’t get the proper nutrition can suffer from a variety of serious health problems including obesity, organ damage and allergic reactions that may be causing them to over-groom. Premium quality cat food can still cause reactions in more sensitive felines: you might want to try switching to a gluten-free cat food or one that’s made with a different protein to see if that helps your cat’s condition.
- an environmental allergy: if you have made a change to your cat’s litter or bedding, your feline pal could be over-grooming in response to the alterations. Consider all factors, including the laundry detergent you used to wash your cat’s bedding.
- stress: your cat may be upset because something is different in your home. Perhaps you’ve adopted another pet, have less time to spend with your cat or have changed the human population in your living space by adding to (or subtracting from) a pre-existing number. Try paying more attention to your cat and offering special treats and toys.
If you can’t seem to track down the cause behind your kitty’s psychogenic alopecia, then it’s time to consult with a qualified veterinarian. The DVMs at Austin Pet and Bird Clinic can give your pet the quality health care it deserves. You and your feline pal can count on us to get to the root of what could otherwise turn into a very hairy problem indeed.