We’ve all seen our kitties cleaning themselves and then start biting in the process. It can be not reassuring. Is it normal, or is it a sign of something more serious? What’s behind this bizarre behavior? Why do cats bite themselves?
Cats can bite themselves as part of the normal grooming process. Biting is used to clean the fur, get rid of bugs, and remove hairs. Biting can also be a sign of a physical or psychological issue.
It’s essential to evaluate your pet’s symptoms to determine the cause. In this article, we’ll take a look at this strange behavior, what causes it, and when you should intervene to stop your cat from excessive chewing.
Why Is My Cat Biting Itself
As with most cat-related topics, this one has a lot of potential answers. The big question here is whether the issue is physical or psychological. Is your cat just working on a tough, dirty spot? Are they excessively grooming because they have a skin or medical condition that’s bothering them? Or are they doing it because they are troubled by something? It’s essential to look for clues to help you determine the cause to find the appropriate solution.
Why Is My Cat Biting Itself While Grooming
You’ve seen your cat spend a lot of its day grooming every inch of its body. Cats keep clean obsessively for many reasons. The instinctive reason passed to domestic cats from wild cats is to keep their scent away from predators. Your kitty’s rough, sandpaper-like tongue equips them to groom their fur and rid themselves of unwanted smells and dirt.
Sometimes, something may get stuck in your cat’s fur, mainly if they are an outdoor cat. They may also have a mat or a knot that is particularly bothering them. These are the typical reasons you’ll see a cat biting while grooming. Cats may also bite around their paws and nails, typically as a means of removing litter or other dirt that gets caught there.
If this is all your cat is doing, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Sometimes, though, your cat’s biting can be a sign of something more serious.
Why Do Cats Bite Their Own Legs
Cats bite their own legs as part of the overall grooming process. Grooming includes many areas, not just the shoulders, but sometimes the leg and foot area. Whatever areas your cat can reach, they’ll attempt to groom it. The legs are particularly subject to intense grooming because your cats use them a lot.
Sometimes they bite at the legs if there are fleas crawling around, or if it’s dirty. Other than that, it’s completely normal behavior and should be expected.
Why Do Cats Bite Their Fur Off
Cats bite their fur off when they’re overgrooming. Sometimes you might see more hair come off if it’s shedding season for your cat. This means the biting of hair may look worse than it actually is. Your cat’s hair just might be shedding more naturally than it appears because of the temperature.
If you notice your cat biting their hair off, you can deter the behavior by playing with them or even giving them a bath to help them clean safely. Occasionally, overgrooming can be psychological and even a coping mechanism. This may be especially true from a cat you’ve adopted that has a history of abuse. which we’ll dive into next!
Why Is My Cat Excessively Grooming
Our kitties have complex brains, and they’re very prone to psychological complications. Excessive grooming or nibbling on themselves can be a sign that they’re having some mental issues that need addressing, most commonly something related to anxiety.
The cat may be having a difficult time adjusting to a new routine, new family member, or another change in the household. Just as humans may bite their nails or perform other physical manifestations of anxiety, cats often bite their fur. Kitties are creatures of routine. If you notice they’re excessively grooming, something has probably disrupted them.
Your cat can also be excessively grooming for a medical reason. Some of these include:
● Allergies: Allergies to seasonal or atmospheric things may be causing skin irritation in your cat. This will make them itch, and they bite the itch to make it stop.
● Dry skin: Just like humans, cats can get dry skin from dry or cold air. They could excessively lick or bite all over, or one area that’s bothering them in particular.
● Parasites: Your cat’s fur may have become a home for fleas or other parasites, and you can bet your kitty will go after them with their teeth to try to get rid of them.
● Pain: A cat may be in pain from an injury or disorder. Their instinct will be to lick whatever spot is hurting them.
How Do I Stop My Cat Overgrooming
As previously mentioned, it will be essential to identify the cause of the overgrooming before you’ll know how to stop it. You could take the cat to the vet immediately, or, if the problem is not yet severe, you could do a little sleuthing of your own first by investigating the following:
● Is your cat biting themselves all over, or just in one spot? If kitty is itching all over, the culprit is likely dry skin or fleas. Take your pet to the vet to assess the situation. If it’s dry skin, several remedies you can try include:
Supplementing your cat’s food with more protein or omega-3 fatty acids.
- Running a humidifier to moisturize the air.
- Using over the counter products to help.
If fleas or another parasite are to blame, you might be able to see the fleas or notice brown spots or missing clumps of fur. While disturbing, fleas are prevalent. Your vet will prescribe something to kill the bugs.
If your cat’s chewing seems to be concentrated on one area, the issue is probably pain or an injury to that area. Gently see if you can identify anything on the skin that could be bothering them, such as a rash. If there’s nothing visible, there is probably an internal problem, and you should take your cat to be examined by a professional.
● Has there been a significant change in your cat’s routine? Think back to the last few weeks. There may be something really obvious like a move, a new cat added to the pack, someone new coming into the house, or a recent trip. Or it could be something small, like the moving of food bowls, a new bed, or a change in litterbox location. Any of these things can cause anxiety in your feline, and anxiety often manifests itself physically.
Cat anxiety tends to stem from a loss of control, and so the best thing you can do is help your kitty feel in charge again. Get them something that’s just theirs, like a new cat tree or toy. Undo any household changes if you can. Speak in kind and loving tones to encourage them and give them lots of love. If they still don’t improve, take them to the vet to see if a prescription medication could help.
● Is your cat bored? Biting can be an expression of boredom. And a bored cat is a cat that’s looking for trouble. If you’ve ruled out everything else, try to think of ways to spice up your cat’s life. Spend fifteen extra minutes each day playing with them. Add a bird feeder outside of a window so they can watch creatures come by. Get them some brand new toys filled with yummy catnip. Or, if you think they’d like it, get a brand new feline friend to keep them company.
Nix the self-mutilation
Cats are very complicated and can have a lot of different reasons for biting themselves. Some may be standard parts of the grooming process, some may be physical, and some may be psychological. Since our cats are excellent at hiding their true feelings, you’ll probably have to do a little investigating. But once you find the problem, it should be reasonably simple to keep your kitty from chewing on themselves!