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An orange cat licking itself and rubbing their face with their paw.

Health & Wellness

Five reasons for excessive cat grooming

It may be more than just TLC

Normally, it’s best to let cats handle grooming themselves. But sometimes they can go a little overboard (also called barbering), which can lead to painful bald spots on their skin. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough shares what could be behind the excessive licking.


Fleas are the most common reason behind excessive grooming; however, they’re usually hard to detect if you can’t see them. 

Solution: To rule out fleas, ask your vet about flea and tick medication or look into topical solutions. If you have multiple pets, you should treat all of them. 


Unfortunately, mites are even trickier to diagnose. Sometimes a skin scrape at your vet’s office won’t even detect them. Often vets will treat for mites even if they can’t get an accurate diagnosis. 

Solution: A common treatment is to have your cat dipped in a lime sulfur bath (stinky, but necessary) once a week for 2 months. There are also some spot treatments that can be given every 2 weeks. 


If your cat is licking, chances are they could also be allergic to their food or something they’re inhaling.

Solution: Your vet may recommend a prescription hypoallergenic food trial or can run allergy tests to determine the cause. Talk to your vet about medications or supplements to help keep your cat comfortable.


Stress can also cause excessive licking. If you recently moved or if your cat is feeling uncomfortable, they could be signaling this through barbering. 

Solution: Ask your vet if it’s right for your pet to be on anti anxiety medicine or if there are environmental solutions you can try and also give your cat some extra attention. 

Other issues: 

There are some other systemic issues, like inflammation in the bladder and anal sacs as well as hyperthyroidism, that could be causing your pet to over-groom. 

Solution: Have your vet assess your cat and run urine and blood tests to make sure everything is OK. 

Finding the cure for excessive grooming may require several tests, but Fetch will be there to cover unexpected vet bills, so you can focus on your cat’s health.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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