Cat Grooming Tips and What Grooming Issues Might Indicate
Cats are generally fastidious groomers, but if your faithful feline is having some issues in this arena, you’ve perhaps turned to the internet for answers. Here at GeniusVets, we understand that you might be trying to learn more about your cat’s grooming habits and when to seek veterinary care for your feline friend. That’s why we decided to send some of the most frequently asked questions about cat grooming to veterinarians and compile their responses to provide you with helpful information you can trust.
Though we sourced the cat grooming information below from leading veterinarians, we encourage you to speak with your veterinarian — especially if you have any reason to suspect this change in habits might be indicative of a health issue. If you don’t currently have a veterinarian, use the GeniusVets Directory to find a trusted vet near you.
How do cats groom themselves?
Cats use their mouths and tongue to groom themselves. Those are their go-to grooming tools. Sometimes they'll even use their feet or things like that to assist them in areas where their mouth can't reach. And as you’ve likely seen, cats are incredibly flexible. They can get just about anywhere on their body to groom. Much of it comes down to them using their scratchy tongue, kind of like a tiny hairbrush to brush through their coat and groom themselves.
How does proper grooming impact the health and wellbeing of my cat?
Cats’ grooming helps things like matting, keeps them clean, keeps the coat healthy, and it helps to release natural oils. And it's a good indicator of the overall health of your cat too. We want to make sure that cats have a nice, shiny, healthy, well-groomed hair coat. Sometimes when their hair coat is a little unkempt, or it's starting to get matted or overly greasy feeling, then we begin to look for some other health concerns that might be affecting your pet's grooming.
What are some signs and symptoms that your cat is no longer grooming themselves properly?
Much of what shows us that the cat isn’t grooming themselves well comes down to the healthiness of their hair coat.
Signs and symptoms of a cat that’s no longer grooming themselves properly are:
- When they develop hair mats, where the hair gets kind of clumped together
- A greasy or a tacky feel to the hair coat
- Clumpy hair coat
- Excessive grooming that results in the cat removing bits, clumps, or tufts of hair
- Sores on your cat's skin
Any of the above signs are well worth a phone call to your veterinarian to ensure there’s not a more significant health issue causing your cat’s grooming issues.
Why is it important to consult a veterinarian if my cat has grooming problems?
Sometimes something as simple as an older cat that’s having trouble grooming can be undiagnosed arthritis, and we need to manage the arthritis. Maybe they're losing clumps of hair because they have fleas, or perhaps they have a skin infection, or there's a whole host of issues that can take on the symptom of an ill-groomed hair coat.
What are the benefits of professional cat grooming?
There are groomers out there, bless their souls, that will groom cats. And sometimes your cat may need it, such as with older arthritic pets that have a difficult time grooming themselves and need a bit of assistance there. Many veterinarians will also recommend the FURminator comb, as it helps to pull out the undercoat and has a release on it that pushes the hair out once it gets caught in the tines. Slicker brushes also work well, and you can brush it down the cat's back, and it'll catch a lot of hair. But some people have long-haired cats, and they deal with constant hairballs or things like that, and their cats do better when they're shaved down professionally by a groomer.
The ASPCA also has a comprehensive list of cat grooming tips. If you have further questions about cat grooming - particularly if you’ve noticed some recent issues - reach out to your vet. If you don’t already have one, we are here to help you find a trusted local veterinarian.