Overgrooming in cats is most commonly due to an underlying allergic cause, such as flea allergy, food allergy, or pollen/dust allergies. Less common causes include microscopic skin mites such as feline demodex, bladder pain, impacted anal sacs, and stress. Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction which can be triggered by the bite of only one flea, so it is important to make sure all pets in the household are on a good monthly flea preventative such as Advantage, Frontline Plus, or Revolution. You can talk to your veterinarian about trying antihistamines to reduce the itch/overgrooming; steroids can also be used occasionally, but due to their side effects, steroids are not a good long term treatment option. If her symptoms persist despite parasite treatment, then the next step would be a veterinary exam and if all checks out normal, a hypoallergenic diet trial for possible food allergy would be recommended. Finally, if there is no improvement with diet change, then consultation with a veterinary dermatologist (www.acvd.org) to discuss treatment options for pollen/dust allergies would be recommended.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
Dermatology Clinic for Animals of Las Vegas