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Psychogenic Alopecia in Cats

What is Psychogenic Alopecia?

This is a condition where the cat engages in excessive grooming that becomes an obsessive behavior. This goes beyond the normal fastidious grooming that a cat would  exhibit.

Initially, psychogenic alopecia begins as a displacement behavior that the cat engages in to relieve stress. Cats don’t generally like change so any number of things can trigger a need to self-soothe through a displacement behavior such as ongoing grooming. With some cats, the excessive licking can eventually turn into actually pulling out clumps of hair or even chewing on the skin.

Any number of things could trigger the need for a displacement behavior but here’s a list of just a few possibilities:

The addition of another cat

Move to a new home

Renovation in the home

Addition of a new family member

Death or divorce

Living in a chaotic environment

Lack of environmental enrichment



Confinement (such as hospitalization or boarding)

Litter box problems

Change in litter box location, type of litter or box type

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