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Why did my cat cease self-grooming?

Why did my cat cease self-grooming?

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Cats are known for their impeccable cleanliness, spending about half of their waking hours grooming themselves. However, if your cat has suddenly stopped self-grooming, it could be a sign that something is wrong and a visit to the vet is necessary. In this article, we will explore the reasons why your cat may not be grooming properly, the signs to look out for, and how to address the issue. Let’s dive in!

Signs That Your Cat Isn’t Grooming Properly

There are several telltale signs that indicate your cat isn’t grooming as it should. These signs include matted fur, a greasier or harsher coat, food residue on their cheeks, litter stuck to their paws, and an unpleasant smell due to inadequate cleaning. As a pet owner, you are familiar with your cat’s regular behaviors, so it is crucial to take notice when something seems off. Any noticeable decrease in grooming could indicate an underlying problem.

Pain Can Cause Cats To Stop Grooming

Pain is one of the main reasons why cats may stop grooming themselves. Whether it’s due to arthritis, a sprained joint, or a broken bone, pain can limit their movements and make it challenging for them to indulge in self-grooming. As cats age, they may start showing signs of pain from around seven to ten years old, and many develop senior cat issues by the age of twelve. If your cat is displaying signs of discomfort, it is essential to schedule a vet appointment. A veterinarian can prescribe medication or suggest lifestyle changes to alleviate your cat’s pain and encourage grooming behavior once again.

Dental Problems Can Be an Issue

Dental problems can significantly impact a cat’s grooming ability. If your cat is experiencing jaw pain, they will likely refrain from licking their fur to self-groom. Additionally, you may notice drooling or a decreased appetite alongside the lack of grooming. If these symptoms occur simultaneously, it is crucial to have your cat’s teeth checked by a veterinarian. Your vet may recommend professional teeth cleaning, dietary adjustments, or provide guidance on how to brush your cat’s teeth at home.

Obese or Overweight Cats Might Have a Tougher Time Grooming

Overweight cats may struggle with grooming themselves due to their size. They may not be able to reach certain parts of their body that require cleaning. In such cases, it becomes your responsibility as a pet owner to assist in grooming until your cat is able to shed the excess weight. Specialty wipes designed for cats can be found in some pet stores to aid in keeping them clean. Consult your vet to rule out any underlying medical condition causing the weight gain. If there isn’t an underlying cause, your vet can guide you through dietary changes and exercise routines to help your cat lose weight.

The Special Case of a Matted Backside

Sometimes, a cat may stop grooming the fur around their backside, leading to matting and potential health issues. Overweight cats or those with long fur are particularly prone to this problem. It may be challenging for them to reach their backside or undo matted fur on their own. If you notice matting, avoid using scissors to address the issue as it may result in accidental injuries. Instead, make an appointment with your vet or groomer to safely shave the fur. Delaying treatment can lead to infections, infestations, and skin conditions.


If your cat has stopped self-grooming, it is crucial to address the issue promptly. Lack of grooming can be a sign of underlying health problems, and a veterinarian should assess your feline companion. Once the source of the problem is identified, your vet may recommend regular brushing to encourage grooming behavior. This can also strengthen the bond between you and your cat, as many cats enjoy being brushed.


**Q: What are the signs that my cat isn’t grooming properly?**
A: Signs include matted fur, a greasier or harsher coat, food residue on cheeks, litter stuck to paws, and an unpleasant odor.

**Q: Can pain cause my cat to stop grooming?**
A: Yes, pain can limit a cat’s movements and make self-grooming difficult. If you notice signs of discomfort, consult a vet.

**Q: How do dental problems affect grooming?**
A: Cats experiencing dental issues may have jaw pain, leading them to avoid licking their fur. This can result in decreased grooming.

**Q: Do overweight cats have trouble grooming?**
A: Yes, overweight cats may find it challenging to reach certain areas of their body. Assisting in grooming and consulting a vet for weight loss strategies are recommended.

**Q: What should I do about matting around my cat’s backside?**
A: Avoid using scissors and instead consult a vet or groomer to safely shave the matted fur to prevent potential health issues.


1. Pay attention to changes in grooming behavior: If you notice a decrease in self-grooming, it could indicate an underlying problem.
2. Seek veterinary advice: If your cat exhibits signs of pain, dental issues, or obesity, consult a vet for professional guidance.
3. Regular brushing: Once the source of the problem is addressed, regular brushing can help reestablish grooming habits and enhance the bond between you and your cat.

If your cat has stopped self-grooming, it’s important not to overlook this change in behavior. By taking the necessary steps to identify the cause and seeking veterinary guidance, you can help your feline companion restore their grooming routine and overall well-being.