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Excessive Grooming, Licking, Losing Fur

by: / Author, Mainer, Maine Coon Mama!

These Q & A's are all about excessive grooming. These cats are licking and grooming themselves excessively, and losing fur or pulling it out.

Read through our archived questions and answers related to excessive grooming, licking, and losing fur. Just scroll down to read more. If you don't see an answer to your question, you can ask it here.

The Maine Coon Magazine
The Maine Coon Magazine

Maine Coon Thinning Tail

by: Cheryl White in Newcastle, Blyth, Northumberland, United kingdom

Maine Coon has suddenly lost a lot of weight and her tail has lost its bushyness, it's extremely thin.

Her name is Tora, she is 14years old.

I am worried because although she is eating a lot more (Always hungry), she has lost so much weight on her back region and her bushy tail is so thin, completely different from what it originally was.

She is lethargic though that might be down to her senior years.

She has never drank much water, so no change there.

She is a indoor cat, no parasites are visible in her feces, not anywhere on her body.She is regularly treated for fleas.

The reason I am concerned about Tora is this change in her lower back region and her loss of her tail appearance happened within 3months.!!

Her stomach area remains the same size, it's her back area is extremely thin now.


What we experienced
by: Jim P.

Our 4-year old male Maine Coon experienced something similar. His tail didn't thin out but his hind-quarters lost their girth and he went from 18 pounds down to 12 pounds and his spine was protruding.

Our vet said that he was overweight and that it was healthy weight loss because we had changed his diet but I insisted on an x-ray and blood work-up.

Turns out he is diabetic which is very unusual for a cat that young, but we got him on insulin injections twice a day as well as a cat food formulated for diabetic cats and his hindquarters have filled out again, I can no longer feel his spine and his weight is up to 20 pounds. Just an idea.

Maine Coon loosing weight
by: Gary

My Maine Coon is 15 1/2 years old and is experiencing the same symptoms, My cat has hyperthyroidism. I’ve been treating it for 3 years now. Have your cats thyroid checked.

Responding to question, "Has Tora been tested for cancer?"
by: Cheryl White

No, Tora has not been tested for cancer, but I have a dreadful feeling that it is cancer related.

I will contact the vets next week.

by: Kim Harloff

Have you had your cat screened for cancer?

Losing Hair On His Tail

by: Marie in Botswana

I noticed today that my lovely 6 year old Maine Coon (9kg) male with the most gorgeous fluffy tail had almost no hair on the mid tail area, all thinned out. Is he sick or could this be another problem? I am very concerned.

Hi Marie,

It could be a few things. Shedding, at certain times of the year can cause thinning in some areas, as well as over-grooming.

If his tail had tangles, maybe he worked on them a bit too hard.

Also, male cats can get a very interesting condition called "Stud Tail." It's caused by an overactive glad at the base of the tail, and it results in greasy fur there. That, combined with the resulting tangles and grooming has caused Leo's tail to thin a bit.

As for a medical condition, I would recommend you give your vet a call. They should be able to tell you over the phone whether you have anything to be very worried about, or if it's a reason to be seen.

All The Best,

My 10yr Old Male is Losing Hair by his Tail

by: Erin in New England

I have a beautiful male Maine Coon cat. When he was 8 he had diabetes, however after a few months of insulin and dieting his tests came back negative.

This weekend I was bushing his fur, it's very long, and by his tail were bald spots and a lot of dandruff.

His fur is so long it hides most of the spots, they aren't red either. I made a vet appointment but I'm really worried.

Does this sound like an allergy or maybe his diabetes returning?
Thank You

Hi Erin,

I can tell that you are concerned. Unfortunately, this is a medical question and outside my experience. Feline diabetes is a subject I have not yet researched. At this point in time, the only thing I can say is that your vet should have your answers.

I know that the waiting is the hardest part. I can say that it could be nothing. Sometimes cats lose fur on spots for no apparent reason. Over-grooming, shedding, even reaction to medications such as flea treatments can cause a temporary loss of fur.

I hope things turn out just fine for your boy,

Over licking, thus losing hair and bad dry skin

by: Jim Benson in Portland

Our Maine Coon cat came to me from a friend who could no longer keep him. He originally came from the humane society who said the previous owners, for some reason had him declawed (front paws only) and then no longer could take care of him do to complicated diet.

So, he is about 8 years old and has been in my care for around 4 years with no diet or health problems that we can see what so ever. He does go outside, something he really likes doing, but generally stays in the back yard.

Three months ago, (August) do to unusually weather conditions fleas became extremely over populated, and I wasn't as quick as usually in getting the problem under control.

About the only thing that works well for fleas is Advantage or Frontline drops on the back of the neck. So, the fleas are gone, but he licked himself so much that he's lost quite a bit of hair on parts of his body, and has scabbed over areas.

Seems to be quit dry. I've added salmon oil to his diet but does not seem to help. Any suggestions. I believe if we could get him to stop licking, then he might have a chance to heal and then not have the dry scab spots and thus not feel the need to lick so much.

We have two other cats, not Maine Cats, just strays that came by long ago, one is about 10 years old, and the other is 15. they also came down with lots of fleas in August, but have recovered from it and both have great skin and fur.

I suppose we could try using those collars, but wondered if there was some medicine that would help stop the cat from itching thus stop licking so much.


Pulling Out Fur

by: Bob McDonald in Green Valley, AZ

Our Maine coon cat started pulling large chunks of fur about 2 months ago. We do not know why he is doing this. Otherwise he is in very good health.

Hi Bob,

I don't know why he's pulling out his fur! It sounds like a medical or psychological problem. Have you asked your vet?

If you aren't seeing him do this, just noticing the effects, perhaps he's losing patches of fur? This can happen after the application of topical flea treatments, but there are a variety of other medical possibilities. Sometimes it's just "one of those things" and rectifies itself.

My advice on something like this is to ask your vet.

Maybe other cat owners have experienced this, and will comment?


Pulling out Fur
by: Barbara in TN

Our 'likely mixed' Coon began this terrible habit about a year ago, pulling the base of her tail nearly bald. Took her to the vet, assuming there had to be a worm issue. No worms. They gave Spoofer a steroid shot that seemed to help, but only for a week.

We tried following an 'allergy strategy' as a second guess. Changed laundry soap, fabric softener, stopped all people food intake (which she was MOST unhappy about), tried giving her alergy medicine, at the vets direction, which was really impossible. We treated for fleas, though there were none. Nothing helped.

We now give her one fish oil capsule every other day, which seems to have eased the pulling some. It also is now more on her back and sides, not usually her tail.

Wish I had an answer, but can understand your concern. It is hard to see her do this and to find big tufts of her hair all over the house. She is the Queen of the House, and we would like to know why this happens.

Maine Coon Pulling Fur out
by: John (East Yorkshire UK)

We were very concerned when our male Maine Coon started to pull his hair out. This is our fourth Maine Coon - and he is now 4 years old. It started when he was 2.

After over a £1,000 of assorted tests through our Vet it was decided he was biting through his fur, close to the skin, but not actually pulling it out - although that is what it looks like as he does it. At the time they blamed adolescence. However, he still does do it - thankfully not as frequently.

If he gets stressed when we go in to the bed room to change and shut a door on him - we open it to mounds of hair. If he doesn't get his own way - for instance we don't open the patio door to let him out on an evening - a mouthful of hair!

We then take his mind of it by paying some attention - or a clap of the hands. We have a stray un-neutered cat moved in to the area - this creates hair pulling.

We just have a stressed out cat - and have learnt not to get too bothered. The more relaxed we are about it - the less he does it. Hopefully he may grow out of it.

One excellent remedy we have found is an air freshener type plug in - called Feliway which lasts about a month. It emits pheromones and has really calmed him down. We keep it plugged in near his basket.
Otherwise he is a lovely neutered cat - I hope this is of help.

Pulling out fur on back and dry mouth
My 16yr old Maine Coon, Rico, started pulling out the fur on his back about a month ago. But accompanied with that is an excessively dry tongue (feels like sandpaper) and excessive drinking.

I was hoping to get some idea here of why that might happen. I guess I will take him to the vet and post another comment if I get any good information.

Cat Pulling Fur Out

by: Mic in Ohio

Cat Pulling Fur Out:

Is it normal for a cat to pull out their hair when cleaning himself/herself? Mishi tends to this from time to time every day, especially pulling out fluff from her chest.

Hi Mic,
From what you describe, it sounds like part of the normal grooming process, especially for a longer haired cat.

Maine Coon cats have a ton of fluff in their undercoat that has already 'shed' off, but is still being held in there by all the other fluff.

So when they groom themselves all that loose fluff comes out on their tongue. Of course, they can't spit it out so that's why they get hairballs.

Do you have a FURminator deshedding tool yet? Maybe you know someone you could borrow one from to try it out. It's seriously the best pet product ever invented, in my humble opinion! It'll greatly reduce the amount of fur that comes out when Mishi grooms.

If, on the other hand, you are talking about real pulling out of the fur, with bald spots etc., that's a behavior issue. I'm not well researched in that area yet, so if she's really pulling lots of fur out I'd recommend you check with the vet.

Sometimes, when they are working on a mat, really trying to get it out, it can seem like they are pulling their fur out but it's just serious grooming time :)

Hope this helps,

Robert does the same thing
Good morning,
I thought that Robert was the only one!!!

Thank you
by: Mic

hello! Yes, she uses her teeth to pull out fur on her chest. It's different from the normal licking and grooming she does on the rest of her body. I was just wondering if this was normal.

Thank you for the replies. I need to look into getting her a grooming brush.

Oh, with teeth!
by: Maine Coon Cat Nation

Hey Mic,
Now I know exactly what you mean! Our cats both do it to, (in the same spot you described) and I suspect most Maine's do!

Is it:
Biting, almost rhythmically, deep breathing sometimes with a little grunting, like she's really trying to get at something? Totally normal! She's probably loosening a mat that's close to the skin, working it out :)

Yes, but pulls the hair out
by: Mic

Yes, it is like deep chewing. But it results in a big tuft of fur that she pulls out... Do your cats, actually, rip out fur? So far, she still has her beautiful grey scarf, but I keep telling her to quit ripping it out.

love the name
by: Mic

Haha! I love that your cat's name is Robert. Is there a nickname for him?

Pulling Fur Out
by: Maine Coon Cat Nation

Yes, they do actually end up pulling a wad of fur out. Usually it's not much, though. I never worried about it because it isn't obsessive behavior. They just get out whatever tangle they were working on, and take a nap :)

Sometimes I have to remove that tangle from the side of their mouth! Or, I see them getting it out and I finish the job for them. Sometimes it's not a visible tangle, just some loose fur.

It happened much more before we started using the Furminator, though. You'll be amazed. There is a picture on Hairball Remedy Options of Leo after his first Furminator session, with the fur that came out.


Constant Licking

by: Ray in NJ

Excessive Grooming
Our 3 1/2 year old Maine Coon is CONSTANTLY licking & grooming herself. She is a spayed year round indoor cat. I see no evidence of fleas. She only eats dry science diet food. We find hairballs around the house. Any suggestions?

Hi Ray,

This sounds like a case of excessive grooming. It is usually caused by skin irritation or it's a behavioral problem.

Skin problems could include fleas, allergies, or a skin infection. You'll want your vet to rule these out.

Cats normally spend about one third of their waking time grooming. If she grooms too much, you'll notice more hairballs, and maybe even bald spots or sores.

If it's behavioral, there are things you can do, like try to distract her when she's over-grooming. But that can be nearly impossible, so you may want to try some products. This is a well-tested standard for anxiety: Feliway diffuser for calming cats and here's a different one with Omega 3's for dry, irritated or flaky skin: Nordic Naturals.

As for the hairballs, that's due to all the licking. They will diminish as the problem is resolved. In the meantime, here is a supplement to help with hairballs: Tuna flavored oral hairball gel.

Hope this helps,


Excessive grooming

My Maine Coon began doing this too last year, he had a really thick and long coat but it thinned out a lot and even his gorgeous thick man was very thin from this behavior.

He suddenly stopped as quickly as he had began and little by little his coat and mane returned and I still haven't discovered why!!

Similar Story
by: jessy
It happened last year and again recently. No fleas or anything to account for it. I thought it was connected with the death of her buddy just before Christmas, but the vet said that would have shown up earlier. He thinks kidney problems or arthritis could account for it. (She's a senior.) ???

MC's are clean cats in my experience...
My observation has been that MC's are particularly fastidious cats. My last cat was a MC mix and my Eli is full pedigree MC.

He cleans himself ALL the time and the old fellow was very particular about being clean as well. Conversely my Ragdoll is not! Eli cleans him too, me and my son!

The other day I had to laugh because when Eli uses his box he clambers out and cleans himself meticulously. I was in the basement when the Ragdoll climbed out of the box and did his typical nonchalant strolling away without cleaning himself.

Out of NOWHERE came my MC who tackled the other cat, threw him to the ground and started cleaning his butt. He'd been waiting to ambush him and teach him a lesson! Gross, I know, but very cute and precious...


by: Robbie in Minneapolis

We have two Maine Coon cats (at least partial MCs). One has licked his lower belly and inner back legs to the skin, leaving little to no hair.

The other MC also has less hair than normal on his lower belly. The first cat is currently on Prozac (vet prescribed) to help cure the issue, but the results are still not good.

Is it normal for MCs to lick themselves nearly bald on the undersides?


Hi Robbie,
No, it's not normal and it's not a Maine Coon trait. But I've heard of it happening. It sounds like your vet is doing what he can.

If you're not sure about the treatment, you could go for a second opinion.

And if any other Maine Coon owners have dealt with excessive grooming, I hope they will leave you a comment, too.

All The Best,


My MC was allergic to his food.
by: Jamilah Haneef
Hi Robbie,
My MC was like that for years. I thought he was depressed because he had to tolerate my other very dominant DLH, my vet even advised me to find new home for my DLH.

I have changed to various types of commercial kibbles available, thought he was allergic to fleas (although he had none) finally I took the plunge converting my cats to raw diet.

It works like a charm... I don't know which component of the commercial diet he is allergic to. He was nearly bald, no outer coat, sometimes he licks himself raw, and even though he is a stripe tabby, I cant see his stripes anymore.

Now, after a few months his stripes are back. I am so happy after so many years wondering where did I go wrong. Hope this helps...

Prescription Diet Food
by: Helen
Your vet probably carries Prescription Diet foods. I would ask him to let you try the Allergy Diet.

It only takes one flea bite to set off the cascade of severe itching in some cats. I use Comfortis on my cats monthly even if I don't see a flea. Fleas are good hickhikers and can come in on your pant leg. If you have wild life of any kind in your area they are the reservoir of flea reproduction.

Why Does My Maine Coon...

by: Patricia in Worcester, MA

Constantly lick herself and seems to be scratching herself as if itching.

I purchased a kit for itching on Foster & Smith catalog (she is diabetic) by the way.


Hi Patricia,
There are a number of reasons a cat would behave as if they are itching, and/or start over-grooming. Some possibilities include:

  • Food allergy
  • Skin Allergy
  • Parasites
  • Behavioral or psychological
  • Infection
  • Auto-Immune Disease

A number of uncommon conditions can cause "itchy" behavior.

Symptoms of these possible underlying conditions are as wide, and your best bet would be to contact your vet with a detailed description of the behavior, how long it's been going on, and any other symptoms.

I have not heard of itching being a symptom of feline diabetes, but that doesn't mean it isn't! I would check with the vet to ask of there could be a link.

If so, a remedy like the one you purchased could help ease her symptoms. Has it arrived, and is it helping?

One of the most common reasons for cat skin irritation is a food allergy. You may want to take a look at the ingredients in her food.

Cats with an ingredient intolerance often improve with grain-free, "limited ingredient" or hypoallergenic cat food. And that opens up a whole new subject!

I hope this helps,

All The Best,


Re: Licking Himself
by: Cliff
My Maine Coone did this till he was raw. I was told he had allergies and spent a small fortune. All he needed was cat grass, since then he is fine. Hope it all works out for your baby, good luck.

Grooming & scratching excessively
by: Ray
My cat was infested with fleas when she was rescued. I AM SPECULATING that she has acquired a habit of excessive grooming & scratching because of this. I don't know if this applies to your cat.

Hi Everyone!
To get back to you-we don't have any fleas. We gave her a bath tonight but she still itched- we used the Itch Stop shampoo from Foster & Smith- when that didn't work it included a salve to stop itching and that worked-I will have to keep renewing the salve until I can get to the vets.

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