cat lick body hair cat fur

How to Stop a Cat from Licking Its Fur Off?

Cats are fastidious creatures, often seen grooming themselves to maintain their cleanliness. However, when a cat excessively licks its fur to the point of fur loss, it can be a cause for concern for any pet owner. This behavior, known as over-grooming or psychogenic alopecia, can lead to bald patches and, in severe cases, skin infections. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior and how to address it can help ensure your feline friend remains healthy and happy.

Understanding Why Cats Over-Groom

Before diving into solutions, it's crucial to understand why a cat might be licking its fur off. The reasons can be broadly categorized into medical and psychological factors:

  • Medical Reasons: Skin infections, allergies, parasites, or even pain can lead to excessive licking. It's the cat's way of soothing the discomfort.
  • Psychological Reasons: Stress, anxiety, boredom, or even changes in the environment (like moving to a new home) can trigger over-grooming as a coping mechanism.

Steps to Stop Your Cat from Over-Grooming

1. Visit the Vet

The first step should always be a thorough check-up by a veterinarian. They can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions that might be causing the behavior.

2. Identify and Reduce Stressors

If the cause is psychological, identifying and mitigating stressors is key. This could include providing a safe and quiet space for your cat to retreat, maintaining a routine to avoid stress from unpredictability, and introducing new toys or interactive play sessions to reduce boredom.

3. Improve the Environment

Enhancing your cat's environment can significantly impact their well-being. Consider cat trees or perches for climbing and observing, puzzle feeders to engage their mind, and regular, interactive play sessions.

4. Consider Feliway or Other Pheromone Products

Pheromone diffusers, sprays, or collars can help calm anxious cats by mimicking the natural pheromones cats produce to mark their territory as safe.

5. Dietary Adjustments

In some cases, nutritional deficiencies or food allergies can contribute to skin discomfort and, consequently, over-grooming. Discuss with your vet if a dietary change could benefit your cat.

6. Behavioral Modification

Behavioral therapies, possibly under the guidance of a feline behaviorist, can help manage psychological triggers for over-grooming. Techniques might include positive reinforcement for not licking and redirecting attention to toys or activities.

7. Medication

In severe cases, especially those driven by anxiety or stress, your vet might recommend medication. Anti-anxiety medications can help manage the behavior while you work on long-term solutions.


Excessive grooming in cats can stem from various causes, necessitating a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. By understanding the root of the behavior and employing a mix of medical treatment, environmental enrichment, and possibly behavioral therapy, you can help your cat stop licking its fur off and ensure it leads a happy, healthy life.

Remember, patience and consistency are key. With the right care and attention, most cats can overcome or significantly reduce their over-grooming behavior.