Licking themselves is part of any normal cat’s life especially since they are meticulous groomers. They may also lick their nose, bum and genitals. However, if your cat is excessively grooming herself and licking but also biting her fur and body parts, it could be a cause for alarm.
Cat licking and biting self: What are the reasons?
These are the possible reasons why your cat is licking and biting herself:
1. Your cat has fleas.
If you notice your cat licking a particular spot in her fur profusely and chomping or biting at it, your cat may have fleas. This behavior is often accompanied by low growls and could indicate discomfort and pain because of the flea bites. Prevent your cat from having flea allergy dermatitis and other related conditions by treating her with flea medication like Frontline or Revolution which is also effective against ear mites, deer ticks and heartworms. Cheristin is another potent flea treatment especially if you live in a bad flea region where most fleas are resistant to medication.
2. She has allergies.
Your cat may also be licking and biting herself because she has allergies. She could be allergic to food and cleaning products. Her allergies could be giving her considerable discomfort. Here are the common signs of allergies in cats:
- itchy skin that causes your cat to scratch, rub and shake her head like she has Parkinson’s disease
- vomiting, bloating and diarrhea
- sneezing, wheezing and coughing
To relieve your cat’s allergy try to give her fatty acid supplements and medication like Benadryl or Cetirizine. Consult your vet first.
3. Your cat could be suffering from a mental health condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.
Cats also experience mental health problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder that may result in them licking and biting themselves excessively. It is characterized by repetitive and exaggerated behavior that seems to be without a purpose such as vocalization, compulsive pacing, sucking, chewing on fabric and excessive grooming. This disorder could become a fixed behavior and tends to reinforce itself due to the release of pain-relieving chemicals in a cat’s brain.
Some of the causes of OCD may include stress due to changes in a cat’s environment and confinement and and mental disorder. Do not punish your cat if she manifests compulsive behavior and consult your vet if you notice behavioral changes.
4. Your cat is bored or stressed.
Are you always away during the day? If your cat is left alone and has a sedentary routine she may get bored and stressed. Not having an enriched environment makes your cat lick and bite herself as well as overgroom to burn excess energy.
Stress could also lead cats to lick and bite themselves. Causes of stress include home relocation, a sudden change in a cat’s environment or routine and new family members or pets at home. To avoid stress and anxiety, allot playtime with your cat and maintain her health.
Provide a litter box in strategic areas at home and create a peaceful mealtime. Pheromones like Feliway can also help alleviate cat stress.
Your cat could also be licking and biting herself because of feline hyperesthesia syndrome, she has dry skin due to weather or nutritional inadequacies or because she is experiencing pain and discomfort in a particular spot of her body. She may also seem to be licking and biting herself but your cat is actually just pulling her fur through her teeth like a comb to remove mats and dirt.
Why does my cat lick himself until he bleeds?
If a cat licks himself until he bleeds due to overgrooming she may have an anxiety problem. Felines tend to manifest stress and anxiety when there are sudden changes in their environment, a recent move to a new home, loud noises, a new family member addition or if you moved her litter box or furniture in your home. When a cat licks itself until it bleeds, it may result in hair loss and skin sores.
Have you noticed your cat compulsively licking his tail until it bleeds? It could be a sign of flea infestation while cats with allergies may lick their backs, abdomens and other areas of the bodies excessively.
Why does my cat act like something is biting her?
Your cat acts like something is biting her because she is feeling discomfort and pain. The culprit could be something that is not easily noticeable. Your cat may suddenly bite her fur on her back, belly or tail for no obvious reasons at all. This could also be attributed to obsessive-compulsive disorder as well stress and anxiety. Without fully knowing it, your cat may be suffering from skin problems due to inhalant and food allergies or bacterial yeast infection.
What does it mean when a cat licks itself in front of you?
A cat typically licks itself in front of you to clean off scents which can happen right after you pet or pick her up. She may also be annoyed that you touched her and she is licking herself in front of you because she does not like the scent you left on her fur.
Licking is a normal part of a cat’s grooming routine but it can be a cause for alarm when she is licking and biting herself too much. Cats may lick and bite themselves if they have fleas or allergies. They can also behave that way if they have obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress or dry skin.
Image: istockphoto.com / Konstantin Aksenov