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My Cat's Not Grooming

What to Do When Your Cat Doesn't Self Groom Well Enough

By Lauren Leonardi . January 15, 2013 | See Comments

My Cat's Not Grooming

Most cats can spend up to half their waking hours engaged in grooming. Sometimes, though, due to age or breed traits, or because of a new medical condition, grooming may fall to the way side. When your cat falls short in their own grooming, you can step in to help.

Most cats are fastidious creatures and can spend up to half their waking hours engaged in grooming. However, some cats may need help with their grooming. Sometimes, due to age or breed traits, or because of a new medical condition, grooming may fall to the way side.

When your cat falls short in their own grooming, you can step in to help. Keeping your cat well groomed is important to their health and well being.

The Importance of Grooming

Cats learn to groom by watching their mothers clean themselves when they are kittens. If a cat was taken from their mother too soon or if their mother never learned grooming habits herself, a cat may need help staying well-groomed.

In addition, some older cats become unable to groom, like if they suffer from joint pain, or become overweight. Both conditions can make it difficult for a cat to get at the nooks and crannies where they used to spend so much time. Cats with medical problems may also find it hard to groom.

Finally, some cat breeds, particularly long-haired breeds, need help keeping their fur clean and tangle free.

Without help, cats who lack the ability or will to clean themselves can develop health problems. Cleaning not only keeps the skin free from dirt that may cause allergies and infections, it also helps to distribute the cat’s natural skin oils. These oils help keep the skin healthy and parasite free, and the coat shiny. Removal of excess hair through regular brushing also helps prevent hairballs.

Good grooming is also important for the ears, eyes, and teeth. The long hair of some cats can irritate a cat’s eyes and lead to inflammation. Dirty ears can be prone to infections and mites. Good oral health for your cat is also essential.

Grooming Tips

The following pointers will help your cat stay well groomed.

  • Brushing and Bathing:

    Cats that have trouble self-cleaning and all long-hair breeds should be brushed regularly, daily if possible. Most cats will enjoy being brushed, especially if they become used to it as kittens. Contrary to what you might think, some cats also like being bathed as long as you remain calm and you avoid getting water or soap in your pet’s face and eyes. Use a washcloth for these areas. If your cat has fleas, ask your vet for recommendations on flea shampoos. “Tear-free” shampoos are also available for sensitive cats.

  • Ears and Eyes:

    Pet owners with long-hair cats should keep the hair trimmed around the eyes to prevent irritation. Also, make sure no discharge is leaking from the eyes, which can indicate health troubles and will require a vet trip. Some cats are prone to ear mites and infections. Special ear cleaning solutions can be obtained from your vet. If your cat’s ears become wet for some reason, gently towel them dry to keep infections at bay.

  • Teeth:

    Keeping your cat’s teeth and gums clean and disease free is one of the best things you can do for her health. Diseases that start in the mouth can lead to infections throughout the body. Also, your cat’s ability to chew their food is important to their digestion and nutrition. Cats with dental pain may refuse food, and begin to lose weight. Weekly tooth brushings are recommended. It may take a bit of practice for your cat to become comfortable with teeth cleaning. Remain calm and patient with your cat, and use special flavored cat toothpastes.

  • Claws:

    Cats need to keep their claws clean and most will spend time chewing and licking their paws. They also need to remove the sheaths that cover their claws, and this is an important reason for their scratching, whether on the couch or the scratching post. Regular cleaning, as well as trimming, of the claws will help your cat stay well groomed and will help your furniture stay in one piece. Your vet can teach you how to clip the claws, which is quite simple once you’ve got the hang of it.
More on Cat Care

When to Take Your Cat to the Vet
6 Common Kitten Health Problems and What to Do

How Much Do Cats Sleep?


This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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