Does Your Cat Have a Grooming Problem?

cat grooming

Good grooming comes naturally to most cats. They diligently lick their fur multiple times per day, ensuring that their coats look sleek and healthy no matter what the season. When your normally well-groomed pet suddenly looks greasy and disheveled, it's only normal to be concerned. Although most short-term changes in grooming aren't serious, over- or under-grooming can be a sign of a health problem.

Why Do Cats Groom Themselves?

Grooming removes loose hair and distributes natural oils along the coat, but it also offers several other benefits. Have you ever noticed that your cat spends more time grooming on hot, humid summer days? Grooming offers a natural cooling effect that can help your feline feel more comfortable when the temperature soars. Grooming also helps cats get rid of irritating substances and invaders, such as allergens and insects that may have hitched a ride on your pet's body. Many cats find grooming soothing and will settle down for a long licking session if they feel a little anxious.

Why is Over-Grooming a Problem?

Although it might seem as if your cat could never be too clean, over-grooming isn't good for your pet's skin. Excessive grooming can lead to hair loss and bald patches on the skin. If your pet's rough tongue breaks the surface of the skin, infected sores may form.

Cats over-groom for several reasons, including:

  • Creepy, Crawly Bugs. If your cat has fleas or other parasites, he or she will try to get rid of the irritating pests by licking them away.
  • Itching. Frequent grooming may be your pet's way of handling itchy skin, due to allergies or parasites.
  • Pain. In your cat's mind, grooming is a natural pain reliever. If your pet has developed arthritis or another painful condition, he or she may spend more time than usual licking one particular area.
  • Stress. Has your pet's normal routine changed lately? Any change can cause stress and anxiety, such as the addition of a new person or pet, a move to a new home or the death of a family member or pet.
  • Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS). The skin becomes extremely sensitive in cats who have FHS. The syndrome can be caused by allergies, fleas, ringworm, neurological conditions that affect the spine or tail, or compulsive behavior. If your cat has FHS, he or she may frantically lick or bite the skin in an attempt to calm the uncomfortable sensations.

Why Do Some Cats Stop Grooming?

Infrequent grooming is also a cause for concern. Lack of interest in grooming may occur if your cat has:

  • Arthritis. Painful joints make it difficult to reach all areas of the body easily.
  • Illness. Grooming may require too much energy if your pet doesn't feel well.
  • Obesity. Packing on a few pounds isn't just bad for your pet's health, but can also make grooming harder.
  • Dementia. Older pets who have dementia may simply forget to clean themselves.
  • Mouth Pain. Your cat may have stopped grooming due to a dental issue or even a tumor in the mouth.
  • Anxiety. Although stress and anxiety can cause excessive grooming, some cats react to stressors by avoiding grooming.

Why Can I Do to Help My Cat?

It's a good idea to schedule a visit with your pet's veterinarian if grooming changes last more than a few days. If the visit reveals a health issue, your pet will receive the appropriate treatment for his or her condition, such as flea or allergy medications, special shampoos that soothe the skin and reduce allergens, or dental treatment.

When grooming issues are caused by weight gain, your pet's vet can provide information on weight loss and recommend foods that will help your cat stay slim. Older pets who have arthritis or dementia may need a little help with grooming. Daily brushing will help your cat's coat look its best and also give you the perfect opportunity to spend a little quality time with your favorite feline.

Anxious pets may benefit from natural pheromones or even prescription anti-anxiety medication in severe cases. Maintaining a consistent routine and spending more time than usual with your pet can help him or her feel more secure and relaxed.

Are you concerned about your cat's grooming habits? We can help. Call us to schedule a convenient appointment for your furry friend.

Sources:

Hill’s Pet Nutrition: How Your Cat Uses Its Tongue for Grooming

https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/behavior-appearance/why-cats-groom-and-lick-themselves

Cornell Feline Health: Cats That Lick Too Much

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/cats-lick-too-much

Animal Planet: Why Is Your Cat Not Grooming Himself

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/healthy-pets/cat-not-grooming-itself/

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:00 am - 12:00 pm

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:00

6:00

Friday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am

2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Thanks for the great peace of mind when I bring Oreo in . . . I know he is always getting the most technically advanced treatment that veterinary medicine has to offer! Thanks so much . . . I trust my best friend in your hands! Thanks so much for all that you have done for us!

    You guys are the best pet clinic in the area--really!"
    Steve & "Oreo"
  • "Dr. Gonzales, thanks for making my life easy when it comes to bringing Hershey in to the see you! Although, I think he may have a crush! I am convinced it's a crush . . . or those treats are doggone divine! But how could any four-legged creature resist? In all seriousness, thanks for providing Hershey and me the finest. most complete pet care available . . . with a lot of love. I have seen a lot of vets in the past and your genuine love and care is truly rare."
    Jennifer & "Hershey"
  • "Thanks to the Drs and professional staff at Pets First Veterinary Center. I feel like you all truly love what you do! Every time I come in to see you, both me and my kitten have had such a pleasant experience. Everyone is so friendly and knowledgeable--I'm really impressed! Ever since I moved to San Antonio you have made me feel so welcome to the area and to your family."
    Jack & "Jill"
  • "Thanks Dr. Gonzales for your loving and professional care for our newest family member! We appreciate you and your staffs' genuine concern for all our pets for the past 10 years. We have always felt like we have been treated as part of the Pets First Veterinary Center family. Its so reassuring to know that we don't have to worry when we leave our dog for medical treatment or a boarding stay. Thank you so much!"
    The Johnson Family & "Magic"
  • "I think the world of Dr. Wright. Not only does she and team at Pets First Veterinary Center provide the best veterinary care possible, but also unmatched personal service and of course lots of love! I trust you with my most precious posessions...and refer all my friends and family to Pets First Veterinary Center.

    Thanks so much to all of you!"
    Maya, "Amor & Abrazo"