We are committed to caring for your pet — while maintaining the highest level of safety for our Associates and pet owners. We thank you for your continued patience and support. Most of the time cats are a source of amusement, but sometimes they can be a source of embarrassment. While pet owners may enjoy watching a cat play with a plastic mouse or chase the red beam from a laser light, they may not be amused at some of their other activities. There is no sex discrimination associated with the act of licking and there is no polite way to discuss it.
A male cat will lick his penis. A female cat will lick her vulva. And they will both lick their anal regions.
This less than appealing behavior annoys pet owners everywhere. Is licking private parts ever acceptable? In the cat world, a moderate degree of licking is part of normal grooming behavior. For example, a male or female cat may lick the genital area after urinating as a means of cleaning the area. When this is the case, licking is only related to elimination and is not persistent. Just a quick swipe of the area takes care of business.
It is not as common for cats to lick the anal area after eliminating; however, if the stool is sticky or watery, the cat may feel the need to tidy up a bit, especially if litter gets stuck around the anus. Normal, firm bowel movements are not usually followed by licking. When is licking private parts considered a problem? Frequent or sustained licking of the urogenital urinary and genital area may indicate that a medical problem exists.
Alert your veterinarian if you see any of the following s:. There are several medical reasons that prompt a cat to persistently lick the genital or anal regions. Here are some of the more common problems:. They may urinate more frequently and may strain to urinate. Often, they feel an urgency to urinate and produce very little urine. Bladder infections are fairly common and are caused by bacteria that usually respond to treatment with antibiotics.
Multiple oral antibiotics are readily available in both pill and liquid forms and are quite effective in resolving bladder infections. Injectable antibiotics are typically reserved for in hospital treatment. If the upper urinary tract or kidneys are infected, the treatment may be prolonged for weeks on average.
Laboratory tests, including urinalysis, urine culture, and blood tests will help determine the best course and length of therapy.
By ryan llera, bsc, dvm; lynn buzhardt, dvm
Environmental and food allergies can both cause itching in the genital area. When a food allergy is the culprit, the itching occurs all year long, while environmental allergies are generally seasonal, depending on what plants or trees are pollinating, unless the inciting allergen is indoors. Avoiding the allergen will decrease licking.
For example, indoor-outdoor cats with environmental allergies should go outside in the early morning and late evening when the dew on the ground reduces pollen in the air. For indoor cats, windows should only be opened during these times as well.
This will reduce the amount of pollen, not eliminate it, but it will minimize exposure to the offending allergen. Food allergies are triggered when the cat is sensitized to proteins typically chicken, beef, or pork or other molecules in the food.
These allergies can be controlled by feeding the cat a hypo-allergenic diet with unique natural novel proteins such as lamb, salmon, kangaroo, rabbit, etc. Both food and environmental allergies may require medical therapy as well as avoidance therapy.
Steroids usually prednisolone can be effective but are often reserved for severe cases or as a last resort. Antihistamines have variable effectiveness with cats and are used less often. Skin Infection.
The presence of bacteria and yeast on the skin is normal; however, if either appears in excess, if the skin barrier is unhealthy, or if the cat is immunocompromised, an infection can occur. Bacterial or yeast infections of the skin can be very itchy and result in constant licking of the affected area. The presence of pustules or red bumps usually indicates a bacterial infection and warrants antibiotic therapy.
A musty odor or reddish-black discoloration of the skin may indicate a yeast infection that requires an additional treatment. Both bacterial and yeast infections usually respond better when topical therapy in the form of medicated shampoos or wipes are added to the oral treatment regimen. Anal Gland Impaction. Cats have two anal glands, remnants of scent glands, located near the rectum. These glands fill with smelly fluid and empty themselves when pressure is applied by the rectal muscles during a bowel movement.
Behavioral reasons why dogs lick
When working normally, pets and their owners do not even realize that anal glands are there; however, when anal glands become over-filled, they become readily apparent. Impacted glands emit a noxious odor and the anal area may become swollen and irritated. In response to the irritation, the cat may lick the rectal region or scoot and rub the anus on the ground. Manually evacuating the distended anal glands via hand manipulation usually resolves the problem.
If ignored, an impaction may occur as the fluid becomes so thick that it does not flow through the narrow opening to the rectum. Impaction often le to infection. Severe infections may lead to the formation of an abscess that ruptures through the skin to the outside area around the anus.
These infections require treatment with antibiotics common choices include amoxicillin, cephalexin, or fluoroquinolones. Oral, topical, or injectable forms of antibiotics may be used. Pain medication and warm water soaks may alleviate the discomfort. Repeated infections may require surgical removal of the glands. Cats are always going to lick their private parts. If your cat licks more than she should, see your veterinarian for help. Feline idiopathic cystitis includes a set of clinical s associated with abnormal urination and is an exclusionary diagnosis.
Cats will often suffer waxing and waning of clinical s such as straining to urinate, blood in urine, and inappropriate urination. Many conditions must be ruled out before a diagnosis of FIC can be made.
Why cats lick their privates
Treatment involves addressing the stressors that triggered the clinical s in the first place and improving the cat's environment to reduce or eliminate potential stressors. Medicated shampoos may be prescribed for a variety of skin conditions.
These baths should be performed in an area that is comfortably warm, using lukewarm water. Medicated shampoo should be applied to a clean, wet coat, so start out by thoroughly rinsing your cat with lukewarm water. Shampoo should be worked into the coat thoroughly and allowed to sit for 10 minutes prior to rinsing, unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian. What can we dig up for you? Find the nearest location to: Find the nearest location to:.
Alert your veterinarian if you see any of the following s: swollen or red penis, vulva, or anus presence of pustules pimples or red bumps on the skin discoloration of the skin black or rust colored straining to urinate increased frequency of urination scooting or rubbing the rectal area on the ground presence of a foul odor between eliminations discharge from penis or vulva What causes the conditions associated with licking?
Veterinarian approved Behavior Support products View Now. Find a Local VCA. We're here for you and your pet. Find A Hospital. Search Fetch! Feline Idiopathic Cystitis Feline idiopathic cystitis includes a set of clinical s associated with abnormal urination and is an exclusionary diagnosis. How to Bathe Cats with Medicated Shampoo Medicated shampoos may be prescribed for a variety of skin conditions. Free shipping.
Search Emergency. Affiliate of Mars Inc. Cookie Settings.