Q: How do you stop a cat from licking herself bald?

February 9, 2009 | By Kristen R. | 5 answers | Expired: 2544 days ago

How do you stop a cat from licking herself bald?

My cat Obsidian licks her belly and back paws bald. This is called allopescia sp? I've tried to distract her, but very little works. Lately, I have put hydrocortisone spray on her belly and changed her food, thinking it might be a food allergy. I am ready to fashion a cone and stick it over her head! Please help. Has anyone experienced this with their cat and have any ideas? Thanks.

Readers' Answers (5)

Feb 23, 2009

There are many reasons why your cat could be doing this so the first thing you should do is take her to the vet to rule out any health issues. I had a cat that licked herself raw on her paws & base of her tail & it turned out to be a fungal infection. I have another cat who used to lick all the hair off his tummy. We found out he had allergies. He took allergy shots initially to get it under control & we changed his food & have since installed air purifiers. He rarely has to have injections anymore which is great since I hate to load them up with medicines.

Obsessive licking can be due to pain or itching. Pain can be neurological or physical. Itching can be caused by allergies to pollen or food, fleas, lice, mites, or any number of other things cats come into contact with. It can also be psychological. Some cats suffer from OCD. Others develop this behavior when something changes. They are creatures of habit & when there is a change to their environment, their routine, their world, they may start displaying signs of stress such as licking.

Obsessive licking can cause skin damage & result in infection so its very important to find the underlying cause.

Once medical problems have been ruled out, then its pretty certain the behavior is due to stress & you have to determine what is causing it...new addition to the family? move? loss of a pet or loved one? change in schedule? The list is a long one. Things you can do are to spend time cuddling or playing with your cat every day. Spend time doing whatever your cat likes to do with you. Provide a stimulating environment with interactive toys, catnip, windows to look out of. Rotate the toys every few weeks to prevent boredom. If possible, provide your cat with some place high to retreat to so she feels safe. If the licking is psychological it may have developed into a bad habit which will have to be replaced with something else. This takes time. Spend quiet time with her every day & make sure you have lots of treats & catnip...whatever her favorite rewards are. Whenever she engages in any activity other than licking - even if its just laying there quietly - say "Good kitty!" in an upbeat pleasant voice & toss her a treat, some catnip, a favorite toy, whatever. As soon as she starts licking, tell her, "No!" (or something similar) in a firm voice. If you have an ultrasonic handheld device like they use for dogs you can then press that. Otherwise, you can shake a soda can with pennies or marbles in it. Once she stops licking for at least 5 minutes, tell her "Good kitty!" & reward her again. It takes time & patience to break a bad habit but it can be done. But first you have to make sure its just behavioral & that nothing is wrong with her physical health. Good luck.

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Sherri R.

Feb 09, 2009

I would have her allergy tested at the vet to see what may be causing it. My mom's cat had the same thing and it turned out she was allergic to many things in the environment (indoors). She gets allergy shots now.

Thumbs Up: 3 | Thumbs up!

Anne m.

Feb 09, 2009

My cats almost does the same thing, but insterad of licking he pulls it out. I was told to try these things.

-Change food to all protein, no grain (little pricey)
-Change litter
-Add fish oil, like salmon oil 2 his diet
-Yogurt, just watch the sugar......I haven't tried this one yet

Good luck!

Thumbs Up: 2 | Thumbs up!

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