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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:
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:
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.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition: How Your Cat Uses Its Tongue for Grooming
Cornell Feline Health: Cats That Lick Too Much
Animal Planet: Why Is Your Cat Not Grooming Himself