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Orange tabby grooming itself

Cat’s excessive grooming cause for concern

Q: Our cat Pussir licks all the hair off his groin and the insides of his legs. He wears a flea collar and is treated regularly for intestinal worms. Could he have an allergy or mites? My husband thinks he’s just bored. What can we do for Pussir?

A: Alopecia, or hair loss, has many causes. Research shows that psychogenic alopecia, which is hair loss due to boredom, anxiety or some other psychological problem, is rare in cats.

Therefore, Pussir’s excessive grooming probably has a medical cause. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dermatologist can do some testing to determine what’s bothering him.

Excessive grooming often is triggered by itchiness. Common causes are allergies to particular food ingredients, flea saliva, pollens or other environmental substances. Mites, which also make cats itchy, sometimes aren’t evident on skin tests but show up during fecal testing, so take a fresh stool sample to your vet appointment. Lice and a fungal infection called ringworm are additional possibilities. 

Another cause of excessive grooming is discomfort. For example, a cat with bladder pain or impacted anal sacs may lick the groin, the same way humans might rub a sore area.

While boredom probably isn’t the cause of Pussir’s hair loss, it’s still important that he have lots of mental stimulation

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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