Caturday: Rosie's battle with overgrooming

Cat overgrooming

Rosie has been overgrooming her belly for what seems like forever, but she only started doing it about two years into our time in Utah. By that time, she had been my kitty for three years, and I wish I could pinpoint when exactly it was that she started licking her belly constantly and what made her start doing it. It was like suddenly she was missing all of the hair from her belly and I couldn't figure out why that was. All I know is that it started about a year after Melody and Sybil came around, so I don't think it was because of them (wouldn't she have started sooner?).

I've read up on cat overgrooming, and it's caused by so many different reasons that it's really hard to figure out what the true reason could be unless you get lucky the first time. It could be an allergy to something environmental or to something in food. It could be due to fleas. It could be due to an internal problem (licking because there's pain and they're trying to make it go away). It could be stress-related. See? Where do you even start?

Overgroomed cat belly

Here's a list of what I've done so far:

Feliway (cat pheromone diffuser)

The Feliway diffuser, which releases cat pheromones, was recommended to me as a way to keep the stress levels down between the three cats. While the girls get along for the most part, they aren't super buddy-buddy and sometimes things escalate. I initially thought Rosie's overgrooming was because of stress due to the addition of two more furry friends, but I'm not sure that this helped much with her overgrooming.

Jackson Galaxy's Spirit Essences in Obsession Remedy

I purchased the Obsession Remedy (now called Obsession Solution) Spirit Essences at the end of last year along with the Skin Soother just because I figured they were worth a shot. (Does anyone else watch his show, My Cat from Hell, on TLC? It's a good one if you're a cat owner!) Spirit Essences are his holistic remedies for various cat issues. They get rave reviews, so I was hopeful they'd work for Rosie. You're supposed to either put a few drops in her food and/or rub drops on her body and/or spray some of the solutions around her bed or other favorite areas. I usually only put the drops in her food and every once in a while remembered to rub some on her body. It seemed like her hair was starting to grow back more after a few months of using the Obsession Solution, but now she's on the Skin Soother and it doesn't seem to be helping much. (I used one at a time so they could be evaluated separately.)

• Changed her diet

All three cats used to be on the Natural Balance brand low-calorie dry and wet cat food (this was because Rosie needed to lose weight and they all needed to be on the same diet, because, well, they eat each other's food). I thought maybe that Rosie had developed a food allergy, so I switched her (and the others by association) over to the limited ingredient green pea and duck dry and wet food. The low-calorie food contains chicken, salmon, lamb, and duck, but duck is lowest on the list so I figured we could start there. Luckily, they all still love the food, but her overgrooming doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. She could have a gluten sensitivity which would require a grain-free diet and that could be a next step.


I think it's possible that Rosie could have feline hyperaesthesia syndrome because I find her biting and licking viciously at her belly sometimes (but she doesn't attack her legs or feet). There were a couple of times where she had made parts of her stomach raw and bleeding, though it doesn't happen very often (thank goodness). If she does have some sort of neurological syndrome, it likely can't be treated and will just need to be managed.

I'm not sure what to do next! Maybe try another bottle of Jackson Galaxy's Obsession Solution Spirit Essences? It is really hard to tell if that worked because I didn't use it as regularly as I should have, but her hair seemed to be kind of growing back when she was on it. Short of testing to make sure she doesn't have any problems internally, I'm stumped as to how to proceed. 

Have any of you dealt with overgrooming before? Was your cat able to overcome it, and if so, how? I'll be sure to update if I find a solution for Rosie!

Caturday: Favorite cat scratchers

Happy weekend, friends! It's been quite a while since my last Caturday post. Truth be told, not a whole lot has been happening in the lives of my cats. They're still adorable, sweet, and sometimes crazy as ever! ;) I just realized that I start every Caturday post like this, ha! I guess it's because I've been going months in between them and it feels natural to update you on how they're doing.

Today I wanted to share my cats' scratching tendencies as well as their favorite scratchers. I honestly didn't realize how picky cats are about scratchers until I met my girls—they each have different preferences! I thought for sure that all cat would use all types of scratchers, but I learned that is definitely not the case. ;)

Cardboard cat scratcher // Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

When I adopted Rosie, I did not have anything for her to scratch on, so she chose to scratch on my cheap ottoman from Target and some cheap fabric drawers I kept in my closet. I ended up buying a cardboard scratching pad for her, and boy did she love that thing! She really goes to town on cardboard scratchers. If she gets riled up, she will run straight to the scratcher. The funny thing is that now that we have other scratching options for Melody and Sybil, Rosie only uses the cardboard scratchers. She hasn't touched anything else—including the furniture!

Melody was a different story. When I met her, she loved scratching on the stairs in Chris's apartment. He bought her a cardboard scratcher, and we tried everything to get her to scratch on it: dousing it in cat nip, "scratching" on it ourselves, and moving her from the stairs to the scratcher and praising her. She would run to it, only to lick it and lay down on it. It was very frustrating. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, after they moved here. We picked up a carpet and twine scratcher, set it down by the stairs, and BAM! She was scratching away at it! It was basically a miracle. Turns out, not all cats like all scratchers, as evidenced by Rosie and Melody.

Shortly after Melody (and Chris) moved in, we added Sybil to the family. I was hoping she wouldn't be picky about her scratcher of choice—and she wasn't! She loves both the cardboard and the carpet/ twine scratchers. Thank goodness. ;)

Twine and carpet cat scratcher // Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

We have quite a variety of cardboard scratchers for the girls to choose from. In the living room, we have a Scratch Lounge, Bergan Turbo Scratcher (one of Rosie's favorites!), and an arch cat scratcher (that we apparently have upside-down, oops!). We also have a very old lounge-style scratcher that the cats dug a hole through, but I won't get rid of it because they love napping on it. It's like they made it exactly how they wanted it, haha! In the bedrooms, we have a regular wide scratcher and a skinny scratcher like this one (we tried hanging it vertically, but they never used it so it's kept on the ground). I love picking up new cardboard scratchers for the girls every once in a while to mix things up, especially because they're cheap! 

We picked up a couple of carpet and twine scratching posts from Petco on two Black Fridays. (They are 50% off then!) The first one we picked up in 2012 is still going strong! The one we got in 2013 looks a little more rough, strangely enough, but it is still holding up fine. We also used to have a carpet and sea grass scratching post, but Sybil tore it apart! (She loved sitting on top of it, too.) I spent a lot of time supergluing the sea grass back onto the cardboard, but shortly after, it was all ripped off again. It just didn't hold up as well as the others, and Melody didn't use it, either. (Also, supposedly the carpet and twine scratching posts we have are also sea grass and not twine, but they definitely have the appearance of twine, whereas the carpet and sea grass post had more of a rigid, straw-like appearance that easily broke and resulted in little pieces all over the place.) We also had a cheap scratcher like this one, but of course Sybil destroyed that one, too.

Because I am a crazy cat lady and love spoiling my girls, scratchers I hope to purchase at some point in the future include the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post, an inclined cardboard scratcher, an all-carpet post, and a scratching post-hammock combination. Chris would love to get them a huge cat tree, but I guess I'm not crazy enough for that just yet. ;)

Twine and carpet cat scratcher // Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

If you're trying to get your cat to scratch on something appropriate, here are my tips: encourage her to use the scratcher (even when she's naughty and scratches something else) by moving her on or near it and praise her, use cat nip if your cat reacts to it, scratch it yourself to show her, place the scratcher near her favorite furniture or place she likes to scratch, wave a toy she loves by the scratcher, and if all else fails, perhaps try a different type of scratcher! You can also try deterrents like spray water bottles and Bitter Apple (a spray is also available but is not recommended for cats, apparently?). You're not supposed to scold her if she scratches something she's not supposed to, but I'm a bad cat mom and usually can't stop myself (Melody loves my kitchen rug and I'm lazy). I try to grab her, place her on the scratcher, and then praise her for using that instead. I still don't think she gets it, though, ha! 

Any tips of your own when it comes to cat scratching? Any scratchers your cats love and that you would recommend? :)

Sybil on a cardboard cat scratcher // Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Big kitty yawn // Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Caturday: Cat quirks

Happy Caturday! :) I haven't done a Caturday post in a couple of months. Not a whole lot has been happening in our cat's world (besides the fact that we moved last weekend and the fact that we're trying to figure out what's triggering Rosie to overgroom her belly). They're pretty happy, laid back little girls who love to cause trouble--as usual. ;)

Today, I wanted to share the quirks of each of our cats. It blows my mind how different their personalities are (and how different every cat's personality is, really).

The Rosie Method of Drinking Water from the Faucet -- Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

The Rosie Method of Drinking Water from the Faucet

Rosie was first introduced to the wonders of the faucet at my parents' old house, which had a vegetable sink in the island and the perfect faucet for cats. She started drinking out of it by letting the water drip onto her head and furiously licking it as it dripped off of the top of her head or her cheeks. Sometimes Rosie lets it drip onto her paw and licks it off from there. She is slowly getting the hang of drinking out of a faucet now that's she's done it for a few years, but still sometimes drinks it her special way--and manages to get water everywhere in the process. 

How to Sleep like a Melody -- Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

How to Sleep like a Melody

Melody takes cat napping to whole new level. She contorts herself in ways that don't look the least bit comfortable, but she'll lay there as long as she's not bothered (or until it's time to eat). Sometimes I see her sleeping on top of the couch, her head completely hidden behind a pillow or falling off the side. She must have quite the heavy head. ;) When she's not contorted, she looks like any regular sleeping cat--either with her head on her paws or wrapped into a tight ball. So sweet!

The Sybil Way of Life -- Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

The Sybil Way of Life

Oh, Sybil. How can I even begin to describe Sybil's quirk? Her entire personality is quirky and silly. Because of that, we call her "Derp." (I just looked up the "correct" definition of derp, and now I feel bad for calling her that because she's not stupid--just silly and sometimes dumb.) She does a funny thing with her head when she gets riled up, she walks sideways when she's feeling feisty around her sisters, she lays/sleeps on the oddest objects, and she sometimes Parkours around the house. I'll try to sneak up to her to pick her up, and she looks like she'll wait there nicely for me--and then suddenly takes off in the other direction. Sybil is the cat version of the 0 to 60 mph. She is such a sweet kitty, though, and totally lights up our lives!