Cats typically do a good job keeping themselves tidy by grooming their own fur on a regular basis. While it's common for pet parents to spot their cats cleaning themselves, it can be disconcerting to notice that your cat is purposefully pulling out chunks of fur from its coat. If your cat is behaving this way, here are three potential causes for the behavior for you to consider.
For many cats, the answer could simply be that your cat needs some help grooming itself. For long-haired cats in particular, clumps or tangles can form in a cat's fur. Simply licking the fur is usually not enough to break up these clumps, so many cats will pull them out of their coat when they become too large. Unfortunately, this can leave your cat's coat ragged-looking, and they could potentially develop permanent bald spots.
Check your cat's coat with a brush to see if you can find any clumps. If you do, either untangle them or clip them off with a scissor. If you need help with grooming, contact your vet's office.
Stress is another common culprit behind this behavior. Cats can become anxious and stressed out just like anyone else, and sometimes they'll pull their own hair out in anxiety and frustration.
If your cat is stressed, chances are they're showing other signs, too. Maybe they're going outside of the litter box, or they're crying in the middle of the night, or they're hiding all day. If you've noticed any of these behaviors in your cat, try to bring down their stress level. Make sure to save plenty of time for grooming, petting, and reassuring your cat. Keep loud noises to a minimum and allow your cat the space it needs if it wants to withdraw and hide.
Lastly, your cat could have a disorder called pica. Pica makes cats more likely to want to consume objects that aren't food, like dirt or even plastic. Unfortunately, this can include your cat's own fur.
Pica is often made worse by stress, so it's possible your cat has more than one problem if they have pica. Thankfully, while pica can't be cured, it can be controlled with the help of a veterinarian. Medication and relaxation products can help to ease your kitty's anxiety or stress enough to reduce this behavior.
Keep in mind that consuming excess amounts of fur can cause gastrointestinal obstructions in your cat's body. If you know that they're pulling hair out and potentially eating it on a regular basis, seek medical help from a vet, like those at Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic, right away.