Yogi the Ragdoll Cat: A Case Study in Overgrooming and Anxiety

APBC Case Study – Yogi The Cat


Animal name: Yogi

Breed: Ragdoll Cat

Sex: Male neutered

Behaviourist name: Amanda Campion, Clinical Animal Behaviourist and APBC Committee Member

Location of behaviourist: Staffordshire

Owner name: Paula Saint

Location of owner and animal: Bristol

Yogi, the ragdoll cat, was displaying symptoms of overgrooming, which led him to develop bald patches across his body. As a result, he had to wear a specialist surgical suit to protect his skin from irritation and infection. Yogi’s owner Paula Saint contacted Amanda Campion, a feline behaviourist and Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) member, for professional advice. Following a combination of behavioural and environmental modifications, Yogi has gone on to win several cat shows.

Paula first sought a referral from the vet to ascertain exclusion from any underlying health conditions, as internal and external pathologies can co-exist. With no medical reason for Yogi’s overgrooming, Paula enlisted the expertise of behaviourist Amanda Campion. It was determined Yogi was displaying signs of anxiety, which presented as overgrooming, much like when a human bites their nails.

Upon meeting Yogi and Paula, Amanda determined that Yogi’s compulsion to lick himself was due to redirected anxiety, a common form of anxiety behaviour seen among cats living in the same environment. When a cat experiences something over-stimulating and it cannot respond to those feelings – frustration, aggression or fear may be redirected towards an innate object, itself, another pet or even its owner. In Yogi’s case, it presented as obsessive-compulsive grooming of his coat.

It was decided that it was appropriate for Yogi to go on an anxiolytic support plan which included a combination of husbandry changes and non-invasive pheromone therapy alongside a regime of distraction. He was prescribed Clomipramine which was effective from just four days. Amanda also recommended the reduction of environmental stressors by placing high-reward cat nip toys and a puzzle feeder to associate a safe zone. This helped to divert negative attention from destructive behaviour into something more positive and reduce anxiety and frustration.

One month later, Yogi had significantly improved, and his destructive grooming habits had ceased allowing him to have the suit off for several hours a day. Two short weeks after this, he could remove his protective suit entirely. Now, Yogi is an award-winning cat, having participated in 12 shows across the UK.

Amanda says, “Overgrooming is a real issue, and it becomes habitual, leaving many pet owners bereft, watching their cat lick themselves sore. I would urge any owner who may think their feline is displaying signs of overgrooming, beyond typical feline grooming, to seek help from a behaviourist registered with a professional body such as the APBC. With a few behavioural and environmental changes, it can be addressed. Just look at Yogi now!”

About APBC

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) is a network of friendly and professional practitioners who work alongside the vet-led team with a variety of species including dogs, cats, horses, small mammals, reptiles, birds and other animals. APBC members offer a variety of in-person and remote services.

Full APBC members are qualified, assessed and regulated, having met the standards set out by the APBC, to promote animal welfare through training and behaviour change. Full members have a breadth of skills, knowledge and experience, unrivalled within the animal behaviour industry.

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