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Self Mutilation

Famous Quote

One is never sure, watching two cats washing each other, whether it's affection, the taste, or a trial run for the jugular.

- Helen Thomson -


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Self-Inflicted Wounds and OCD Cats

What is it?

Self mutilation may result from excessive licking, chewing, biting, or pulling out fur. All these actions can lead to skin lesions. What these behaviors have in common is how difficult it is to interrupt and distract the cat from the destructive behavior.

Medical conditions or stressful conditions may cause cats to become obsessed with grooming that ultimately leads to self-inflicted wounds.


Why does it start?


While you may think this behavior seems odd or rare, it is a common complaint of cat owners. Medical conditions can cause cats to become seemingly obsessed with grooming, ultimately leading to bodily damage. Self inflicted wounds may begin due to an underlying medical condition or due to the cat's inability to cope with physical anxiety often resulting from a stressful environment. Either way, a self mutilation habit can become severe and difficult to change.

What to do

The first step is always a visit your veterinarian for a thorough exam and diagnostic testing. Because no two cats are alike each case must be evaluated individually and thoroughly. Only a veterinarian can diagnosis and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan.

If medical conditions are ruled out or treated and the behavior continues, then a pet behavior history analysis is the next step. In general, behavior modification can help the cat learn replacement behaviors. The family will also need to help eliminate the source of stress.

What is OCD?

Cats can develop obsessive compulsive disorders which are behavior patterns or habits that are difficult to interrupt or stop. After any underlying medical causes are ruled out or treated, this condition is treated as a form of mental illness. Behavior medications and modification plans can help these cats learn replacement behaviors that are not harmful. A veterinary behavior consultant typically works with the general practice veterinarian on pet behavioral issues.

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