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Home > Cats > My Cat Stopped Grooming: 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & Solutions

My Cat Stopped Grooming: 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & Solutions

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Dr. Amanda Charles

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Cats are self-grooming animals, and when they stop cleaning themselves, it can be a sign that something is amiss. They require assistance from their owners to maintain healthy coats, especially if long-haired, but the felines do most of the work. Although cats are experts at hiding illnesses and injuries, they cannot disguise a ragged coat from their owners. Below, we’ll discuss what to do when your cat has an unhealthy coat and the reasons behind it.


The 3 Reasons Why Your Cat Has Stopped Grooming

If your cat has been more unkempt than usual, a few things could be causing such a drastic behavior change: age, weight, and health.

1, Age

old gray tabby cat lying on bed
Image By: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

As your cat ages, you will likely see him resting more and experiencing physical challenges. You may even notice that his coat has lost some of its shine. That can be in part due to a lack of grooming. Your senior cat may be grooming himself less often due to his physical challenges.

If your cat has trouble moving, twisting, or positioning himself for grooming, he cannot remove dirt, debris, and loose hair. This can result in tangles or painful mats, so getting ahead of your senior cat’s reduced grooming habits is important.

How to Help

The best way that you can help your senior cat with grooming is to do what he cannot. For example, if your cat’s mobility issues prevent him from grooming his back, you must pay special attention to that area when grooming him. Brush his fur and clip his nails regularly, being especially gentle. As your cat gets older, his body will be more fragile and thus susceptible to more injuries.

Another way you can help is to pinpoint the causes of his mobility issues. His difficulty moving may be simply a natural side-effect of aging, but there is also a chance of arthritis or other issues.1 By consulting your vet, you can narrow down the possibilities of your cat’s movement difficulties.

2, Obesity

fat British cat is lying on the floor and peeping with one eye
Image By: OlegDoroshin, Shutterstock

Weight can be a significant factor in determining how well your cat grooms himself. If your cat is overweight, he may be unable to reach certain parts of his body. He may also be more likely to develop arthritis, which would further contribute to his lack of grooming.

If you want to know whether your cat is obese, consult your vet. If your cat weighs 10–20% more than he should, he is considered overweight. If his weight exceeds 20% of what it should be, he is obese. Feline obesity is so common that it occurs in 63% of all cats in developed countries.2

Obesity brings significant health risks to your cat, including endocrine disorders, metabolic dysfunction, and cardiovascular issues. Beyond the grooming aspect, obesity presents serious problems.

How to Help

To help your cat overcome his obesity, talk to your vet. Before your vet appointment, take inventory of the food your cat eats, how much activity he gets, and any other information that you think is relevant. With this information, your vet can help you create an effective diet plan for your cat.

Your vet may present different solutions depending on your cat’s needs, such as calorie-reduced foods or veterinarian formulas. You may also want to reduce your cat’s bowl size or switch him over to timed feeding if you have not already done so.

Altering your cat’s activity levels will also help. Incorporating puzzle feeders, interactive toys, and other stimulating items into your cat’s life may help him become more active.

3. Illness or Pain

sick cat
Image By: one photo, Shutterstock

Sickness and pain may cause your cat to quit grooming himself. Cats are excellent at masking their pain, and poor grooming habits are one of the signs that something is amiss.

If your cat is unwell, you may notice other signs, such as increased sleeping, decreased eating, and changes in litter box behavior. Your cat’s illness may cause different signs to appear, so pay close attention to how your cat behaves and note anything out of the ordinary.

How to Help

You must take your cat to the vet if you suspect that he is sick or in pain. If you have notes of questionable behaviors you’ve seen your cat display, you can present them to your vet to help further the diagnosis. Once your vet diagnoses your cat, you will receive a treatment plan specific to your cat’s condition.



It’s worrisome to see our cats behaving strangely, especially when that strange behavior leads to tangles and mats in their fur. If you can pinpoint the cause of your cat’s poor grooming, you will be better equipped to help them overcome it. Consult your vet as soon as you notice your cat has stopped grooming, and keep track of any abnormal behaviors. With your vet’s guidance, you can help your cat continue living a comfortable and happy life.

Featured Image Credit: YuryKara, Shutterstock

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