Cats are very sensitive. This is one of the many reasons why they occupy the homes of millions of Americans. Elegantly wrapped across the sofa or lying in the bay window to catch up with their favorite bird program, not many minutes pass by without cats licking a paw, then washing their face. Cats make licking and grooming in the form of art. But you know there is something wrong when they start licking things other than themselves.
While cats are constantly licking and grooming themselves, their licking becomes obsessed or involves someone, non-food items can be a sign of an underlying problem, such as a cat licking a blanket or a cat kneading a blanket in its mouth. Your cat may be undernourished, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or you may be under pressure due to changes in the home. Your vet can immediately help you pay attention to identifying and treating your cat’s unusual behavior.
Frequent grooming without stopping
Cats that lick themselves non-stop can have a condition called psychological baldness. Female cats are more likely to exhibit excessive licking behaviors than males, with high-severity purebred cats more likely, and eastern breeds in particular. Cats generally have developed this disorder as a way to calm themselves to help cope with stress. Moving to a new home, changing the location of the litter box, prolonged guests, new pets, or new family members can affect cats, who yearn for normal life and routine in their daily lives.
Lick non-food items
Cats licking in extreme anxiety in non-food items such as furniture, clothes, walls, plants, or household items exhibit a form of pica. Pica develops when the animal yearns for the taste of non-nutrients and usually indicates nutritional imbalance. Discuss your cat’s nutritional needs with the vet to ensure that your cat gets the right kind of nutrients for her age, breed, size, and level of activity. Pica cat eating non-nutritional elements should also be screened for feline leukemia, diabetes, and HIV in cats.
What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Animals can develop obsessive-compulsive disorder just as people do. This mental illness manifests itself in repetitive and compulsive behaviors and may be hereditary or the result of stress. Changes in routines can cause excessive movement behavior, especially in cats that are already anxious or stressed. Your veterinarian may prescribe hypotensive pheromones associated with lowering household stress to help alleviate the problem and prevent it from recurring.
Medical causes of licking
Cats may lick their bodies if they suffer from pain, have an irritating skin condition, or suffer from parasites or allergies. Some conditions involving excessive licking include problems with cyst, cystitis, and hyperthyroidism. Some nerve problems can appear in excess licking, so a full medical examination can help your vet determine the root cause of your cat’s behavior.
What are the treatment options
Reduce stress in your cat’s environment and give her toys time when you can’t be with her. Provide a safe haven where your cat can find peace and quiet away from other household pets and family members. Keep garbage bins clean and avoid major changes in routine, if possible. If your cat is diagnosed with OCD, you may be referred to an animal behavioral therapist.
In extreme cases, the veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Talk to your vet about homeopathy solutions as well. You may also consider CBD oil in food or capsule form. Regular veterinary exams can help ensure that your cat is in good overall mental and physical health.