Cats lick themselves for a number of reasons, grooming and stress relief are a few of them. When the licking becomes excessive it can be cause for concern and a source of great annoyance for the owner. Some cats choose to groom themselves, while others may choose you or another pet.
If your cat starts to display these traits a trip to your Veterinarian is in order. He will want to make sure that there is nothing medically wrong with your cat. Allergies such as food or environmental may cause itchy, irritated skin which may encourage licking.
Excessive grooming/licking is generally classified as a compulsive disorder. Female cats are more likely to exhibit these signs. Stress is usually the driving force behind compulsive behaviors. Cats, like dogs, can suffer from separation anxiety. You may want to consider a kitty playmate for your cat as cats being social enjoy the company of another cat. Remember to introduce them slowly, as a bad introduction may worsen the stress (see Blog on introducing cats). Increased playtime and socialization may also lessen this behavior. Set aside some time for just you and your cat to play. Providing a variety of toys and activities can distract and stimulate your cat which should in turn decrease self destructive behavior. Medication may be indicated after a thorough exam and history from your veterinarian. Together with your Veterinarian you can help your cat adjust! Ask Animal Central if you have any questions!
For additional information on Excessive Grooming http://www.catchannel.com/vetlibrary/article_ask_grooming.aspx
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff