Cat Grooming Habits
Why do cats groom so often?
Unlike many animals, cats love to be clean. Household cats can spend up to 30-50% of their day cleaning by licking, scratching, and rubbing up against objects throughout the house.
As well as to keep clean, there are many reasons why cats spend time grooming, like to:
- keep cool in hotter months
- keep their coat soft and clean
- stimulate blood flow or circulation
- remove fleas, ticks, or other parasites
- stay calm or distract themselves when they’re nervous or anxious
- enjoy themselves or keep from being bored
- satisfy their routines and habits
- to remove or mask smells to hide from predators
How much time should your cat spend grooming?
There are a few factors that could increase or decrease the amount of time a cat might spend grooming itself, such as:
the breed of cat
the age of the cat
how active the cat is day-to-day
the health status of the cat
the amount of time the cat spends outdoors, or where it spends its time
And, like many feline behaviours, a lot of cats groom out of habit or routine. A cat that has learned to groom often from an early age may find pleasure in maintaining its cleaning routine.
But, if your cat is suddenly grooming more often or at particular places, it might be caused by something like stress from being itchy, pain, injury, or illness.
Does your cat groom too much?
As mentioned above, cats can spend up to half their day grooming, so it can be difficult to tell whether they’re grooming excessively.
Signs your cat might be grooming too often will be indications of agitation to their skin and coat.
Signs a cat is grooming excessively include:
redness and rashing of their skin
coat discolouration or a change in feel
patches of thin hair or balding
a preference for grooming over other activities like eating or playing
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, you can make a booking with a member of our veterinary team for a consultation. Excessive grooming is often caused by pain, parasites (like fleas or ticks), illness, or stress.
Does your cat groom enough?
If your cat is on the opposite end of the range and doesn’t spend much time grooming, you may be wondering if they’re grooming enough. Cats are typically very clean animals, and unhygienic behaviours can be an indicator of stress or negative health statuses.
Signs a cat isn’t grooming enough include:
a thick, discoloured coat (usually prone to matting or knotting)
unusual or unpleasant odours
urine and droppings attached to your cat (usually at the hind legs or around their tail)
debris and litter attached to the paws
If your cat has always been a little bit lazy with grooming and these habits aren’t unnatural, it may not be cause for concern. In this case, you can help your cat along with its grooming by giving its coat a brush every now and then to encourage positive behaviours.
But, if your cat was previously a groomer and has become less interested in it, this might be because:
it’s getting older and pain in joints is preventing flexibility
health conditions are causing restriction and lethargy
it’s overweight, less energetic, or unable to reach the areas it needs to clean
it’s stressed or anxious about its environment
Helping to regulate your cat’s grooming habits
Every cat is an individual and will have different grooming needs and habits. To help your cat keep a regular routine, you can:
maintain a consistent routine at home to give it grooming times outside of activities (feeding, outside time, when you’re out of the house)
help encourage grooming habits with occasional brushing and patting
providing activities that might encourage movement or activity at home
book a consultation with your veterinarian to get a better understanding of your pet’s grooming habits
Pets can be very good at hiding stress and pain. Simple changes in behaviour like grooming noticeably more or less often can indicate underlying problems.