CBD for Over Grooming in Cats

February 26, 2024
CBD for overgrooming in cats

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Overgrooming in cats, scientifically known as psychogenic alopecia, can be a baffling and concerning behavior for pet owners. If you’ve ever caught your kitty in a seemingly endless loop of lick, lick, lick, you know it’s not just about cleanliness. There is some underlying issue which is causing your cat to excessively lick themselves, and whether it’s anxiety, pain, a skin issue, or lack of stimulation, CBD may offer a natural option to keep your cat at a healthy amount of licking.

Reasons Your Cat Could be Licking Too Much

There are a variety of reasons that your cat could be overgrooming. Here are the most common causes:

  • Skin Conditions: Allergies, infections (bacterial or fungal), parasites (fleas, mites), and dermatitis can cause itching and irritation, leading to overgrooming.
  • Anxiety: stressors can cause your cat to try to soothe themselves by grooming. If your cat’s anxiety levels don’t go down they may start excessively licking themself.
  • Pain: Conditions like arthritis, dental disease, or injuries can cause a cat to lick at the painful area excessively as a way to soothe the discomfort.

The Itch Your Cat Can’t Scratch: Skin Issues Causing Overgrooming

Physical causes for overgrooming in cats often stem from dermatological issues that lead to discomfort or pain, prompting the cat to lick excessively at the source of their discomfort.

Sometimes the physical cause of your cat’s overgrooming won’t be obvious, and will warrant a deeper investigation. It’s easy enough to tell if your cat has fleas, or maybe a case of ear mites, but sometimes you can’t tell just by physical inspection.

One study on psychological causes for overgrooming in cats found that 76% of cats that were referred for apparently psychological reasons turned out to have physical causes. Of these, most of them were having a food reaction. If you’ve changed your cat’s diet recently, it may be the cause of their overgrooming.

If you can’t figure out why your cat is overgrooming itself, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform the appropriate tests and have a better understanding of what might be causing your cat to over groom. 

If your cat’s overgrooming is a result of physical discomfort, then CBD oil can be helpful. It’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease the irritation your cat experiences, thereby reducing their impulse to over groom.

Grooming Gone Wild: Anxiety Causing Overgrooming

A little licking isn’t bad. When it starts to cause bald spots though, there’s definitely something wrong. A lot like plucking in birds, excessive licking could be a result of your cat being anxious. Anxiety can manifest as a variety of behaviors, such as increased aggression, excessive vocalization, going outside the litterbox, changed eating habits, hiding, and overgrooming.

Cats don’t just groom themselves to get clean. They also groom as a way of soothing strained nerves. So when their nerves are strained and nothing is happening to calm them down, some cats will just keep on licking.

Anxiety can lead to excessive grooming as cats attempt to soothe themselves. This compulsive behavior can result in hair loss and skin lesions.

If your cat is overgrooming because of a lack of stimulation, then you should try finding some time each day for play. This can keep your cat stimulated and happy, content not to lick just because they’re bored. You can also try to get them some interactive toys that will keep their mind active while you’re away.

In studies, CBD has been shown to be effective at decreasing anxiety. It works on the ECS, or endo-cannabinoid system of the body, which all mammals have. While its exact mode of interaction is still being speculated on and an area of active research, studies have shown that CBD can decrease compulsive behaviors like over grooming.

Trying to Lick Beyond the Surface: Pain Causing Overgrooming

As stated above, for cats grooming is a cure-all soother, so even if the pain they’re experiencing is below-surface-level, they may be licking it as a coping mechanism. Overgrooming due to pain can stem from various conditions, such as arthritis, dental diseases, urinary tract infections, or even injuries that are not immediately visible.

While licking may provide them temporary relief, it can lead to skin damage, hair loss, and further complications over time. If you suspect your cat is overgrooming because of a condition that’s causing pain, it’s essential to get help from your veterinarian. They can perform the necessary tests to find out what is causing the pain and treat its cause, rather than symptoms.

CBD has been studied extensively as an exciting alternative to traditional opioid pain relievers since it lacks the long term side effects of those options. It’s been shown to be effective for dealing with chronic pain. If your cat has an underlying disease that is causing them chronic pain and in turn causing them to over groom themself, CBD for Cats could be a good option to try.

Giving CBD to Your Lick-Happy Cat

This might be one of the only conditions that should make it easier to give CBD oil to your cat. One of the best methods for giving cats CBD is to get the oil onto them (their paw works well), and most of the time they will be compelled to lick it off. In the case of an over grooming cat, all you have to do is get the CBD oil onto the place where the cat is licking too much.

Not only will the cat lick it and get good absorption in the mouth, but chances are some will be absorbed in the skin if it’s been licked clean. Since Relievet uses Coconut MCT oil as its carrier for CBD oils, this can be a soothing comfort to your cat.

Still, if you feel that it would be too difficult to get oil onto your cat, CBD treats offer a good alternative while delivering an effective dose.

A Good Dose of CBD for Your Cat

All cats are different, and specific circumstances need to be taken into account for your cat’s specific situation. CBD works off of weight-based dosing, where the typical dose for relief from skin conditions will start with 1mg/kg. For relief from chronic pain, 2mg/kg has been found to be effective. And don’t worry, CBD has been found to be very safe in cats, with very high doses given without any long term side effects. But generally, the lowest dose that provides the most benefits is the best dose. 

Here’s a breakdown of CBD oil dosing for your cat who’s overgrooming:

Dose Frequency Notes
0.25 mg/kg Twice daily When your cat is already taking something else*. Monitor for reaction.
1 mg/kg Twice Daily Regular low dose to start with in most situations. If your cat is just licking themselves a bit too much, this is a good dose to start with.
2 mg/kg Twice Daily Regular high dose. When whatever is causing your cat’s over grooming isn’t resolved by the regular low dose, this is the next dose to try.
4 mg/kg Once Daily Once-daily calming dose. Useful for situations where your cat is experiencing high anxiety and you need something to keep them calm. Can be used as needed. Dose should be given early in the day.

*Always consult with your veterinarian before starting your cat on CBD, especially when they’re already taking something else.

Get Your Cat Feline Fine

Whether your cat is suffering from a skin condition, anxiety, or chronic pain, CBD for cats can serve as a good option for helping your feline to start feeling fine.

Overgrooming in cats is more than just a surface-level issue (even though it seems that way). Take care to look for signs that your cat’s overgrooming might be caused by an underlying condition, and talk to your vet if you suspect that’s the case. By looking beyond the licking and exploring all avenues of treatment, from traditional to alternative methods like CBD, cat owners can help their feline friends achieve a better state of health and happiness.

biscuits story

Biscuit's Story

Chris Kjolseth | CEO, Relievet

I was unprepared for what would happen to my dog, Biscuit. 

Ever since she was a puppy, she’d spend her days running and playing. I’d take her on walks, to the beach, and dog parks.

Unfortunately, at age 10, she started to limp after trips to the beach. It broke my heart to see her in pain doing what she loved the most. I started feeding her a raw food diet and added high-quality supplements to ensure her nutritional needs were met. Unfortunately, while she loved the food, the limping persisted.

I went to the vet, who looked over Biscuit and said she was likely limping due to joint inflammation. She gave us something to help. This worked well at first. Biscuit was moving around more freely, and was limping less. 

However, a few days later, It was to my absolute shock that she…

Read Her Story

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