cat licking

Your Cat’s Licking Doesn’t Always Mean Well

Normally, cats will over groom to maintain personal hygiene. The main way cats groom is through licking. Cats basically spend about thirty percent to fifty percent of their day grooming. Due to this, as a cat owner, you are likely not to notice any unusual behavior unless you are keen enough. However, there are limits to when licking is normal or abnormal. The duration and frequency is the check is the limit. If your cat licks itself or you more often and over a longer period, then there is a problem.

Fur Mowing

Apart from skin-related issues, other conditions such as hyperthyroidism, cystitis and anal sac problems can cause excessive grooming. Cats may also groom more if they are experiencing or discomfort in a certain area or the body. Licking associated to itchiness or pain is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. This behavior is also referred to as fur mowing.

Medical Conditions

Diseases can also be indicated through painful swellings of the cat’s body, face or legs. With itchy diseases such as skin disease, the licking is all over the body. Anything from parasites in kittens to neurological diseases in older cats such as  compulsive licking at the tail head may indicate a flea infestation, while cats with pollen or food allergies may lick their backs, abdomens or other areas of the body.

Other root causes for licking include a neurologic problem, a chiropractic problem. Infections also intensify the licking which can result to an even more serious problem other than aggravating the infection. Don’t draw conclusions that your cat is moody or fussy.  If you sense your cat’s licking is due to a medical condition, see a vet as soon as possible.

Your cat is disinterested

Cats that stay indoors a lot may get bored and frustrated that they cannot go outside and do some hunting or play. Due to this, they are likely to develop a compulsive behavior, such as licking. Due to vented up anger or frustration, they may take on displacement behavior like licking as a coping mechanism. Licking releases endorphins (happy hormones) which reduce emotional tension that the cat is feeling. So the behavior makes sense in the context of a cat who is trying to comfort themselves.

If you suspect is licking too much due to boredom, then it is your responsibility to create stimulating activities for them. You may need to invest in toys, a water fountain or climbing tree to meet this need. Also create time to play engaging games such as hide and seek or catch with your cat. As much as you possibly can, make sure your cat’s life is as, brain-jogging, diverse and fulfilling as possible.

Change in the environment

Cats are creatures of habit and they enjoy structure. They love to stick to routines and predictable patterns. When anything changes in their routine, cats react negatively and may even put up a fight, just like humans. So whether it is moving  in to a new home, bringing in a new cat or introducing a new pet or simply changing their room, cats won’t like it a single bit. Due to the uncertainty and confusion caused by drastic changes, cats develop obsessive behaviour patterns such as licking to deal with this stress. During such transitional periods, set apart a temporary sanctuary for your cutie somewhere in your home, preferably far away from chaos and any other pets. Cats like to feel safe and comfortable in their own space. Make sure to fill up their space with his/her creature comforts, including a bed, treats, water, treats, scratching posts and even some fun engaging toys. At times, you can simply need to feel they are in a familiar place conducive for them.

Some Cats are more susceptible to licking than others

Psychogenic alopecia is more likely to be found in females than in males. This causes itchiness and pain which triggers licking in cats to soothe the area. Hair loss and skin damage will be centralized in areas of the body where the cat actually can reach to lick and chew. In most cases, it is the chest, abdomen, back, flank, and the inner legs.

This disorder is said to have a genetic basis as it is commonly seen in particular pure bred cats, primarily the oriental breeds, with generally anxious temperaments. This disorder occurs is commonly evident about the period of puberty but can be experienced at any age. It can also happen in kitties who are hospitalized, boarded, bored, deprived of their freedom, or who are generally stressed or have a high-strung disposition. 

Stress and Anxiety

Over grooming is a way that cats maintain cleanliness. However, it is also a reaction to stress. Cats can be stressed due to a variety of reasons. For instance,  cats may get worked up if they have to visit the veterinarian for a check-up, feel threatened by a new pet in their environment; have just moved to a new home, or have to travel. Other signs of stress include hiding, refusal to eat, and nervousness. Monitor your cat closely to establish whether their excess licking is due to stress or associated with a medical condition.

How to deal with your cat’s licking

  1. Distract them

There is an ideal position which when you are in, your cat feels comfortable with and will start licking you. If you can recognize when your cat wants to lick you, you can distract them with a toy. You can also place an inviting pillow between you. Scheduling engaging playtime also boosts your cat’s confidence. This reduces they need to keep licking for attention. Keep your pet entertained and challenged whenever you get time to interact with them. You can also entice them with food treats as a reward.

  1. Make your environment cat friendly

Cats that often lick themselves or other due to stress or anxiety issues may lack something exciting in their environment. There could also be other pets especially outdoors that are harassing them or your other pets such as dogs are interrupting their happy time. You can seek to separate your pets or create a comfortable room or area where your cat can thrive without feeling threatened or scared.

For your indoor cat, you can place a cat tree  near a window so your cat enjoys viewing the outdoor activity. If it’s possible, you can also place a bird feeder outside the window for some reality cat TV.  Environmental enrichment for cats is essential especially for indoor cats since they are confined to a limited space. This aids to mimic their evolutionary predatory nature and rejuvenate their instinctual primal nature.

  1. Don’t let your stress out on your cat

Cats pick up bad vibes from people and will get either clingy, aggressive or withdraw when they feel unwanted. Your cats licking can also feel like a nagging person and get to your nerves. Don’t spoil the bond with your cat by yelling, hitting them, throwing things at them or shoving them away. Develop a loving, kind and effective approach that enhances your bond. This could include a positive and constructive games or tasty treats, depending on the reason why they are licking you too much.

  1. Natural remedies

Don’t disregard the power of naturally aiding your cat through lifestyle changes, whether minimally or in a huge way. Herbal remedies such as whether rosemary, chamomile, lavender or anything else which is safe for your pet can be quite helpful. Your vet can recommend one which best suits your pet to help cope with their daily stress. Do not administer any medication or forms of treatment to your cat without a consult from your vet. A catnip or cat grass is recommended for cats that not only lick themselves but also toys or other people too much. This is an effective, completely safe and easy option to redirect your cats licking from objects and people to their mouths only. For cats that chew alongside the licking, giving your pet parsley, catmint or oat grass is advised.

  1. Pay a visit to your vet

Constant licking could in fact be as a result to a variety of medical conditions, including hyperthyroidism and cystitis. If your cat’s condition is indeed related to a disorder such as hyperthyroidism, do not attempt any of the natural remedies or adjustments and instead consult the veterinarian about ways to come up with a management plan for your cat.

It’s quite common for pet owners to be totally clueless there’s a problem until they notice significant hair loss, bald spots, or scabs from over-grooming. With licking being normal cat behavior, most cat guardians disregard their cats licking. Some will simply ignore or scold their cats for licking objects or others too much.

While your cat’s excessive licking may not always mean well, at times it actually is a sign of good behavior. Just like humans hug and kiss those they are friends or lovers with, cats will lick other cats or pets that they are familiar and friendly with. This behavior aids in strengthening the bond between them. The exchange that occurs also helps create a familiar group scent. This familiar scent is an important means of identification for cats. So when  your cat licks you, it is also a way of showing affection  as much as bonding with you.