The Detroit Post
Monday, 29 November, 2021

Why Are Cats Fastidious Groomers

Bob Roberts
• Wednesday, 25 November, 2020
• 12 min read

This may sound obvious, but it is the main reason that cats groom, and they will lick themselves after almost every meal and toilet visit in order to remove the scent of food or feces. This is an instinctive response that domestic cats have retained, but in the wild this served to protect from potential predators.

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Cats largely rely on saliva evaporation on their fur in order to maintain the right body temperature and help cool them down in hot environments. Whilst this may help for an initial clean, owners need to understand that cat’s tongues don’t have antiseptic properties and continued licking can actually make wounds worse so it’s best to get your vet to check them.

For the most part many cats will not require much assistance with their personal beauty regime until they get a bit older where conditions like dental disease and arthritis may make grooming trickier. Long haired cats are slightly different in that they greatly benefit from daily brushing to help prevent matting, even from a young age.

There are a number of scenarios where your cat may start grooming obsessively, or to the point where they have created bald or sore spots. Medical conditions such as skin disorders, parasite infections or allergies can also result in over grooming.

It’s important in these situations to get a vet to investigate the potential causes and to treat the signs. Cats groom themselves to remove debris off the fur and to help regulate their body temperature.

When your cat’s saliva is distributed over his body on a warm day, it helps with thermoregulation in order to keep him cooler! Areas that are most commonly groomed by cats are the face, neck, chest, shoulders and front paws.

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This helps clean up any stray food particles stuck to the face or whiskers. Sometimes, however, excessive grooming behavior in particular areas of the body can be a sign of a medical problem, such as fleas, allergies, infections, anal gland impaction, skin disease, pain, etc.

A visit to the veterinarian is in order to rule these problems out, as in some cases, it can be a tip-off that something is seriously wrong. For example, if a male cat sits on his hindquarters in similar fashion to a bear and directs a lot of licking behavior toward his penis, this may be a sign that he has a urinary blockage, which can be a fatal condition in male cats.

Excessive licking can produce areas of thinning or missing hair in the hair coat, as well as redness and skin irritation. If medical conditions are ruled out, your veterinarian may recommend an evaluation by a veterinary or animal behaviorist, as some cats may groom excessively due to a behavioral disorder.

Cats are fastidious groomers spending 50% of their waking hours attending to their personal hygiene. Their ability to maintain such high standards of personal grooming are due in part to the bristle like barbs on a cat’s tongue and to their flexibility.

The repetitive licking movements release endorphins in the brain which calm the cat similar to what happens when they are pet. Grooming not only removes dead hairs to prevent matting, but it distributes oils along the shaft of the fur to keep it healthy and protects the skin from dampness and heat loss.

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Actually, although there are some cats who never learned to take care of their coat properly, for most, matting is a sign of disease. Loss of flexibility of the spine is the most common cause of matting in the hind end of your cat.

General malaise (not feeling well) will make your cat sleep more and not have enough energy to be bothered about grooming. So matting of the fur may be your first indicator that your pet is anemic, isn’t breathing well, has kidney failure, is diabetic, has heart disease or even cancer.

These cats have severe anxiety and are worried they can’t take time away from surveying their environment to attend to their grooming needs. When fur Matt around your cat’s hind quarters it can obstruct normal urination and defecation and lead to urinary tract infections, constipation, and moist dermatitis.

Bring your cat in for a full physical exam and blood and urine screen. You can also use a damp wash cloth to rub in a massaging pattern over the coat, mimicking the action of the cat’s tongue.

If you encounter a Matt you can’t comb out, bring your cat in to the clinic and have it safely shaved out. The diet needs to address your pet’s health status as well as be very high in Omega 3 fatty acids.

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We have a number of nutritional councillors on staff that can make a diet plan for your cat. Cats that are doing a good job with maintaining their healthy coat may rarely bring up a fur ball.

The first few weeks that a kitten spends with their queen are some of the most important and formative ones in a cat’s entire lives, and it is really important that kittens are not weaned too early, and are allowed to stay with their queen and littermates to learn all about being a cat! If your cat is getting older and becoming quieter, less mobile and less active, it is entirely possible that they might be beginning to suffer from joint stiffness, or the onset of one of the chronic conditions that sometimes come with aging, such as arthritis.

This is something that takes time, and so it may not become apparent that your cat is having problems grooming themselves until this becomes quite pronounced, but this is certainly something to bear in mind. Bad breath, eating delicately or dropping food when eating and a whole range of other things can all indicate that your cat’s teeth are making them miserable, and this is why it is important to have their teeth checked out by the vet regularly and if necessary, have them professionally cleaned and cared for as needed.

Painful teeth or gums can lead to a reluctance or unwillingness to groom in the cat, if their dental problems make things worse-and so this is something to think about and potentially, ask your vet to check out. Cats do not tend to gorge themselves or have problems regulating their own food intake, but as they get older, they can gain weight as they continue to eat as normal while also becoming less active.

But that doesn’t mean cats don't need regular brushing, nail trimming and, in some cases, bathing. She needs your help, so it’s time to get over any nerves you may have about using a hairbrush, nail trimmer or shampoo on your cat.

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To make this easier for you and your kitty, we’ve answered some of your most common questions about grooming cats. In addition to a specialist diet and exercise regime, older cats also need assistance with grooming their fur.

Aging joints and limited energy leave senior felines unable to clean their fur as often as they’d like. Groom a senior cat daily to distribute oils around the fur and keep it clean.

Senior cats have thinner skin, so you’ll need to use a soft brush. Older cats can be belligerent and impatient, but feeling unclean will cause distress.

If you are gentle and consistent, most senior cats will come to welcome your assistance with cleaning. As fastidiously clean animals, it can be worrying when a cat stops grooming.

The causes of this vary from dental pain to internal disease or viral infection. Do not worry unduly unless your cat has also stopped eating and drinking or is acting particularly strangely.


It’s likelier that your senior cat has ceased grooming through inability, not unwillingness. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice links osteoarthritis to geriatric cats.

If your cat is arthritic, it will lack the mobility to clean itself appropriately. Watch a younger cat groom and you will notice that many body contortions are required.

These twists and turns are beyond the physical capability of a senior cat. Excessive use of shampoo, even a cat-safe brand, can dry out feline skin.

Older cats already have thin and delicate skin, which is easily damaged. Your intention should be to replicate your cat’s previous grooming routine.

This will keep your cat happy and ensure that its fur does not grow matted and greasy. Most felines find grooming relaxing, while it also doubles as a defense mechanism.

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Cats like to retain a clean and unscented presence to avoid detection by predators. When a cat grooms itself, it redistributes natural oils throughout its fur.

Whenever you pet your cat, you also rub oils from your own skin onto the fur. Longer fur will grow greasy and dirty faster than short hair.

The ideal time to groom a cat is after play and food. A younger cat will typically follow up a meal with grooming and a nap.

You should never groom an agitated cat, as it will resist by biting and clawing. As explained by Pas, a cat’s tongue contains hollow papillae top collect and distribute saliva.

Such a brush will replicate the sensation of self-grooming and help keep the cat calm. Your cat should view grooming as a pleasurable experience, not an ordeal to be tolerated.

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Get your grooming apparatus ready and invite your cat to sit in your lap. Gently pet your cat a little to keep it content and begin the process.

Start grooming at the tip of the head, brushing the fur in the direction of growth. Older cats take longer to heal cuts and are more prone to infection.

Sometimes, older cats are unable to detect parasitic infestations. Water from spray bottle will achieve this, if your cat accepts such treatment.

Lift the matted fur, being careful not to pinch your cat’s skin. Use a pair of scissors to score the length of the tangle and cut it open.

Once the matted fur has been separated with scissors, brush the area with fine-toothed comb. Grooming and brushing several times a day will reduce the risk of them arising, though.

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Just grooming a cat will be insufficient to keep its fur completely clean. Your cat uses saliva to neutralize scents and remove oils.

It will also release additional water, potentially upsetting the cat. This is not just a marketing ploy, designed to trick animal lovers into spending more.

If you are unable to purchase specialist wet wipes, use those designed for human babies. Relax your cat and apply these wipes to its fur while stroking.

Older cats struggle to reach these parts of their anatomy for cleaning. Mother cats lick the anus of their young to encourage elimination.

This is a condition in which flies are attracted to matted waste on a cat’s fur. Cats are naturally disinclined to eliminate in a dirty environment, but sometimes needs to overtake preferences.

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Do not leave your cat to lounge in soiled litter, or it will cling to their fur. Your cat may have stained its fur by rolling in liquid or mud.

You’ll need to work slowly and gently to avoid hurting the cat. Do not allow your cat’s body temperature to drop below 100 degrees Fahrenheit during or after bathing.

This will lead to flaking skin, which is often mistaken for dandruff on feline fur. Dry shampoo will create a foam that can be massaged into a cat’s fur during petting.

This will improve the appearance of your cat’s fur and mask any unpleasant scents. It is no substitute for regular maintenance of a senior cat’s fur.

Cleaning a senior cat’s fur is not drastically different from aiding a younger feline with grooming. Older cats need more assistance with keeping their fur clean.

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Providing this help will enhance your bond, and your cat’s quality of life. Cats have a reputation as vain animals due to the amount of time they spend grooming.

Every day, your cat uses its litter box, kills vermin/prey, and walks on filthy surfaces. A healthy cat will have a soft, clean, and shiny coat.

Since Lyme disease is so prevalent among dogs it is important to know the clinical signs associated with infection such as fever, lethargy, painful joints and very rarely acute kidney failure. Although many dogs test positive for Lyme disease on yearly screening blood work only an estimated 5-10% develop these clinical signs.

Cytauxzoonosis is a parasitic disease transmitted by ticks and can rapidly cause severe illness and death even with aggressive treatment. The best way to protect your cat from these diseases is to keep them indoors and every month, year round, apply a preventive to kill fleas and ticks that hitch a ride inside on you or your dog.

As with most medicine, prevention is the key to protecting your cat and eliminating several nasty parasitic diseases. Read on to discover the surprising reasons your cat spends so much of its time licking.

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Cats sweat a little from their paws, but they mostly rely on saliva evaporation on their fur to maintain normal body temperature. By licking itself, a cat helps distribute its natural oils evenly around its coat.

Cat saliva is thought to contain enzymes that turn it into a natural antibiotic. Similar to how a hairbrush promotes blood flow on the scalp, your cat’s tongue-which is covered in tiny, bristle-like hairs-improves circulation.

Visit your veterinarian twice a year to stay ahead of common problems, and establish a daily brushing routine with your cat. To review this information or withdraw your consent please consult the Privacy Policy.

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