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Is Your Cat Overgrooming? Here’s What To Do

A brown and white cat sits on a chair licking at its paw.

Cats like to keep themselves clean. They spend at least five hours a day grooming their fur to sleek, shiny perfection. In fact, that’s why they don’t like water or don’t need baths frequently, because they do all the work themselves. It’s a healthy habit. 

However, your cat can overgroom themselves, and when this happens it’s usually an indication of a greater health problem. This can be something like a skin condition and a new stressor in the home that’s making your cat nervous.

But you might have a hard time spotting the particular reason why your cat is overgrooming, or if they’re doing it at all. And you don’t want to miss anything that is going to cause your cat some long-term discomfort. 

So read on below for a breakdown on cat overgrooming. How to tell, why they do it, and what to do once you’ve identified the problem.

A orange tabby cat rubs its face on its paws.
There are telltale signs to know if your cat is overgrooming. 

How to tell if your cat is overgrooming

To the average person, an overgrooming cat might be hard to spot, because they already spend so much time doing it. But there are some telltale signs for you to look out for, indications that your cat might be more vocal about than ones you could spy by yourself.

Here is a shortlist of a few overgrooming symptoms in cats. Not all of them may apply to your cat, but if they’re practicing a handful you might want to take a closer look at what they’re doing. 

Keep in mind that overgrooming can manifest in over scratching as well.

  • The groom in a certain area for a prolonged period of time
  • They are getting more hairballs
  • They have redness, sores, or rashes on the skin from grooming
  • They’ve developed bald patches
  • They groom so much they won’t eat, play, or sleep
  • They seem pained while grooming
A fluffy tabby cat lays in the sun and licks over its jaw.
It could be something as simple as fleas or require a change in your cat’s life routine. 

Reasons for overgrooming

The reasons for overgrooming in your cat aren’t so clean-cut. There isn’t one reason why it might be happening, it could be several, or it could be one.

Luckily there isn’t a ten-page long laundry list of reasons to show you, when it’s happening to your cat it’s usually one of these five reasons below.

Skin irritations

A simple skin irritation can be the reason behind overgrooming. This can come about for several reasons, a change in diet, an allergic reaction to something, discomfort with a new brush, or shampoo. Usually, you should call your vet if this is the case. 


This reason might seem strange to you but boredom can become a very big problem for a cat’s health. If your cat isn’t mentally stimulated enough in their boredom they can take to overgrooming. So if you feel this is the case, try to bring some stimulation to their lives. 


One of the more concerning reasons on this list, your cat could have fleas if they’ve been overgrooming recently. These are easy to identify with a close look at your cat’s skin and can be alleviated with medication. 

Internal Pain

Sometimes if your pet is experiencing some pain in their body, not on the outside they can overgroom the area afflicted. This particularly occurs with cats who have urinary tract infections or cysts and will lick their genitals for relief.

Stress and Anxiety

One of the more common causes of overgrooming, but harder to pin down and identify. Your cat can become stressed by a change in scenery or a new pet in the home, but it could be something else as well. Figuring out why they’re feeling this way is the key to recovering. 

A brown tabby cat walks on the lawn. Its owner dangles a white rose in front of its face to place with.
There is not a one-step fix to overgrooming, every cat is different. 

Fixing the problem

There are multiple ways to go about stopping your cat’s overgrooming. And some of these solutions depend on what’s causing the problem. 

If it’s more medical-based then you’re going to need to listen to some professionals in that route or purchase some medicine from the pet store. If it’s not medical in nature you have to isolate the problem and decide how to accommodate your cat’s needs into it.

Read on below for a breakdown of three solutions to stop the overgrooming. 

A trip to the vet

This is what you should always be thinking of first when your cat has an overgrooming problem. It’s better safe than sorry with your furry companion. If you go to the vet they can tell if the overgrooming is something they can prescribe to fix.

If your cat has a skin irritation or a more complex health problem they can address the further steps with you, and if it’s not something in that vein they can provide some suggestions for what to do in the future.

A conditioning spray

A remedy for overgrooming you can get that won’t require a visit to the vet or breaking your bank account is purchasing some conditioning spray to alleviate the skin irritation on your cat.

FaunaCare’s conditioning spray is a perfect way to moisturize and alleviate some of the flakiness on your car’s red irritated areas. 

There are also some conditioning sprays that you could use particularly if your cat has fleas or some other kind of parasite causing their discomfort. There is a spray for you out there, visit your local pet store or search online to find one. 

De-stress them

This is the solution you should be looking towards if the problem your cat has is anxiety or stress-based. Often their overgrooming can come from a life change in your home or a lack of mental stimulation for them.

What you need to do for the first problem is figure out what’s bothering your cat. Some of the most common problems are a recent move to a new home, a change in routine, the introduction of a new pet, improper cat handling, visiting guests, and so on.

If your cat requires mental stimulation you could purchase some interactive toys for them like wand toys that mimic prey animals, a good new scratching post, and make sure that you’re buying new toys for them fairly consistently. 

A woman with curly hair hugs her calico cat to her chest in front of a window.
There are so many reasons why your cat could be overgrooming, but the solution is not far away.

Hope is not lost, it might take a few days for you to figure out what’s wrong with your cat. But once you have the problem isolated then you can get to work on making sure that your pet is comfortable and healthy.

Cats are intelligent animals, and unlike some less high maintenance pets require some compromise on your part when they’re living with you. But you gladly maneuver the comforts of your life around so that your cat could have some peace of their own.

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