Dear Menandcats.com –
My cat has had a normal, furry belly for years, but lately he seems to be losing fur on his belly! I noticed that he’s been licking it a lot. Is it worth an expensive trip to the vet to figure out why he’s licking his belly, or should I just leave it be?
– Cat Lady
Dear Cat Lady,
The menandcats.com household has extensive experience with the too-much-belly-licking problem. Thurston, our beloved tabby, went through a period where ALL he seemed to do was lick his belly constantly. He licked all his belly fur right off. I did take him to the vet (Oh, the vet has laughed at me several times for the minor things that I have brought Thurston in for) and it turns out he had a condition called Psychogenic alopecia. Translation – it was all in his little kitty-head, and he was licking himself neurotically for no real reason. The vet said we could put him on kitty meds, but that his belly-licking was basically harmless and we could just leave him alone. She also said that trying to figure out what was stressing him out could be nearly impossible – it could be a smell somewhere, another animal nearby, etc. Well, we tried all sorts of things to calm the Thurstonator down (he already has a brother, who he gets along with) like playing classical music for him and putting a holistic calming remedy in his water (after being assured it was safe – it had no effect). Nothing worked. Then we moved to a new apartment – and I thought the move might send him over the belly-licking edge. But our new place has a little more space and it’s not on the ground floor (no more strange cats coming right up to the window). Lo and behold, he’s stopped licking himself excessively. Although he is still excessively attached to his cat-mom, but cat-mom really doesn’t mind.
Of course, each cat is different. Your cat could have psychogenic alopecia, or he could have an allergy or something like fleas or mites causing him to lick himself. Just to be on the safe side, you should probably bring your feline friend to his vet to have him checked out.