Some cats suffer from skin problems such as overgrooming and an acute sensitivity of the skin.Cats with this hypersensitivity may bite or lick at themselves, the skin can twitch or even ripple and the cats may jump up and run as if stung and seem very agitated.
Cats may also become aggressive, perhaps because they are constantly aggravated by their skin and may not be resting or sleeping properly.While there can be simple causes for itchiness or sensitivity, such as allergy to fleas or other types of skin problem, forsome of these cats no cause can be found.
Cats that overgroom can‘self-barber’ (an excellent term noted in an American publication) by breaking off hairs or even pulling them out.They may have baldpatches where they have removed all the hair and the pattern of the baldness may be symmetrical as the cat grooms each side excessively to the same extent.
This can be very extensive and may affect the whole stomach, the cat’s sides or flanks and its back, or may occur just along the outside of the thighs and the stomach.
Researchers have suggested that there is a change in the nervous system in these cats and that the nerves in the skin may be stimulated and thus cause this very sensitive reaction it is thought that this can be exacerbated by stress. Interestingly, a few cats also nail bite, splitting and breaking the nails.
Many researchers have examined ‘psychogenic lopecia’(behaviourally induced hair loss) and investigated a large number of cases in great detail.In most cases, they found that there was a medical cause, such as allergy to fleas, for the hair problems. They concluded that it was actually quite a rare problem and should be kept in proportion and investigated fully before rating it as purely behavioural.