A while back my Ginger would compulsively clean herself to the point of licking a hair-less patch on her side that turned into a sore. ...

Missing Hans & Keeping a Tidy Cat

A while back my Ginger would compulsively clean herself to the point of licking a hair-less patch on her side that turned into a sore. Licking up to 50% a day is normal for a cat, but if it gets out of control they will get bald patches. Cats will compulsively lick because it releases endorphins that feel good, but in her case it caused self mutilation. It was a stress induced behavior triggered by a third cat in the household that she wasn't particularly fond of. His name was Hans Hoffman Kitty. He was beautiful and he and Vicktor together were my Halloween Cats, both orange and black respectively. Ginger didn't want any part of being near Hans. We even did the slow introduction period. She "tolerated" Hans, and as a result would stress out about him. Long story short, we had to return Hans to the shelter for other reasons, and she stopped licking a bald patch in her fur. (Please note: I take comfort in knowing that he was adopted the next day. I try not to think about it, as it still makes me upset. Someday I'll write about it, but I can't at this point.)

My Halloween Cats, Hans & Vicktor.

Ginger "tolerating" Hans.

Hans Hoffman aka Mr. Velvet Ears. I'll always miss you.

Now I know keeping Ginger's whites bright white is a lot of work. She always seems to be cleaning, but it's not as bad as it was when we had Hans. What can you do if your cat is an OCD cleaner? First your vet will have to rule out a skin disease, i.e. fungus, bacteria, allergy, rash. Next try to reduce environmental stress. Regulate their schedule and eliminate anything that's unpredictable. You can try interactive play therapy with them, leave an unwashed sweatshirt for the nervous cat to lay on, or spray Feliway around the house. If it's really bad your vet might prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, but make sure you're not reinforcing the OCD licking.

My Ginger and her bright whites.

What if it's just the opposite and your cat doesn't clean themselves? They may have never learned it from their mother because they were taken from her too soon, or the momma cat never learned.

What if they can't clean themselves? Sometimes it's an underlying health issue when they can't clean or it might simply be old age. They might have painful joints and can't move like they used to, or they might be overweight and can't reach certain spots. Long haired breeds especially need extra help in keeping their fur smooth and tangle free.

Tips to help your kitty:

→ You can brush your cat. If it's a long haired beauty try to brush daily. Brushing is good bonding for you and your cat too.

→ If they are really dirty or flea ridden, you can bathe your cat, just be sure the temp is comfortable and you don't get water in their face or ears, you can clean those areas with a damp washcloth. There's also  cat cleaning wipes and sprays, to help you if you can't bathe your cat. (These shortcuts are especially helpful if your cat has to wear a cone for any reason.)

I included this picture because it makes me laugh.

→ Make sure ears and eyes are clean. If you have a long haired cat you can carefully try to trim the hair around their eyes to prevent infections. Also you can trim around their butt if prone to poo hangers-on.

→ You can try cleaning your cat's teeth, but I know from experience my cats won't let me anywhere near their teeth. Don't give up, you can get special teeth cleaning treats.

→ Trim their claws, or have your vet do it.

If they don't clean AND you don't clean they can suffer from numerous problems including parasites, infections and ear mites. Plus it helps prevent hairballs if you brush them every so often ~ long hair cat or not. I hope this helps you have a Tidy Cat!