Over-Grooming In An Abyssinian Cat
Photos by TRACY FASCIANA, Abayomi Abyssinians

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In the article titled Over-Grooming & Self-Mutilation we discussed the feline obsessive-compulsive grooming behavior that can lead a cat to damage its own skin and underlying tissues.

This is the story of a young Abyssinian female, Ashante, who developed a problem with over-grooming upon reaching sexual maturity. She began occasionally scratching and licking at her hind legs just as she was coming into her first season.

Within a few days, I noticed her skin on the inner surface of her hind legs was raw!

The Problem — too much licking!

And licking...

And more licking!!!

In retrospect, I believe that besides the hormonal stress of going into heat, she may also have been having a personality conflict with one of our other cats, Aleena, who was pregnant at the time and quite dominant. As her due date approached, Aleena would hiss at Ashante more and more.

I separated them.

I believe once Ashante had made the injuries to her skin, they became ever more itchy, creating a vicious circle that made her scratching even worse.

Before and After Photos of Self-Mutilation

(1) The Inner Hind leg

The photo on the right shows a close-up of the inside surface of the cat's hind leg showing the typical skin abrasions that results from too much licking by a cat's rough tongue.

This photo shows the skin healing nicely and the hair growing back in once the cat stopped licking the area.

(2) The Back of The Neck

Besides licking and chewing at her legs, Ashante also began scratching at the back of her neck. The photo on the right shows the sore she created by scratching the area with her back leg.

This is a close-up of the wound on the back of the neck showing how deep the injury was.

A bandage was placed around her neck to prevent further scratching on the back of the neck. Although she still scratched, she no longer injured the area.

It was impossible to tell whether she was still attempting to scratch the skin or whether she was scratching because she was simply irritated by the bandage.

On the right is a photo of the back of the neck with the protective bandage removed. It is easy to see that healing has progressed beautifully and the hair is starting to grow back.

(3) Under The Chin

Despite all efforts, Ashante begin scratching under her chin once the neck bandage was removed.

The wound was treated with antibiotic cream and Ashante was fitted with a set of "booties" to prevent further injury from scratching. Her hind feet were wrapped in cushioning baby socks and then elastic, self-sticking orange "Vetwrap" was used as an outer layer to keep everything in place.

I remain vigilant to discourage any new licking or scratching as a cat determined to continue the over-grooming behavior can quickly create a new problem.

I am confident, however, that Ashante is well on the way to over-coming her behavior problem.



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