Is It Bad To Not Groom Your Cat? Cats are independent, self-sufficient animals – or so it would seem. Many cats, especially outdoor cats, seem to need very little maintenance. These cats seem to want almost nothing other than a bowl of food, a bit of water, and a warm place to sleep.
For some cats, however, proper care is a bit more involved. Even though cats seem content to live independently, vets and animal experts think that you should do a bit of extra work to keep your cat happy and healthy. Grooming your cat is an easy extra step that you can take to maintain your cat’s appearance, bond with your cat, and prevent certain medical issues from becoming problematic.
Is it bad to not groom your cat? Sort of. With most cats, you don’t need to go crazy and bathe your cat daily. You should, however, attend to your cat’s fur once or twice a week, trim their nails, and consider bathing them occasionally.
Any cat owner will tell you that cats take care of basic grooming on their own. After all, they’re basically wild. Your cat will lick itself to remove foreign objects, loose hair, and dander. They’ll also attempt to regulate the length of their claws via a scratching post, tree, or your furniture.
Unfortunately, cats don’t have tools. They’re also not particularly smart. Your cat will never think of shaking themselves to remove loose hairs before they begin licking their fur.
Instead, they’ll swallow any hair that their rough tongues pull out. This will inevitably lead to your cat coughing up a hairball, especially if your cat has long hair. Brushing your cat (or petting your cat) will help with this. You might not be able to reduce the frequency of hairballs to zero, but you should notice a substantial improvement if you simply brush your cat’s fur every once in a while.
This general concept applies to more than just hair. If you have an indoor cat, anything that winds up on your cat’s fur will either fall back on your floor or find its way into your cat’s mouth. Keeping dander, dirt, and other foreign objects out of your cat’s mouth can save you from unexpected vet visits.
Cats won’t always develop problems from eating things that get stuck in their fur, but grooming your cat is an easy way to avoid this sort of unwanted complication.
Even though cats are equipped to perform basic grooming on themselves, they’re not always the best at it. Some cats, especially long-haired cats, will develop matts in their fur if you don’t help to groom them. Just like with hairballs, regular brushing and occasional bathing can reduce or eliminate these matts entirely.
If you find that your cat does have matted fur, don’t expect them to solve the issue on their own. Instead, gently try to break up the matts with your fingers or use safety scissors to carefully break up the mass of hair.
Similarly, brushing and the occasional bath can work wonders for your cat’s fur quality. Your cat has access to a limited number of tools, angles, and techniques when it comes to grooming themselves.
You, a human, do not share these same limitations. You’ve got multiple combs, brushes, and other tools to choose from, you can position yourself however you like, you can brush in any direction, and you’re capable of adapting your technique to better fit the situation. You don’t have to entirely take over for your cat and perform all of the grooming.
Instead, do a full-body groom every so often to care for any spots your cat might have missed and remove loose hairs.
Grooming provides a great excuse for you to check out what’s going on with your cat’s skin and fur. Your cat probably won’t tell you if it gets fleas, develops strange lumps, or begins to have skin problems.
As you groom your cat, you’ll check for most of these issues automatically. This can give you a leg up on controlling fleas, getting your cat to the vet, or even separating two pets that you thought were getting along. Without regular grooming, you might not notice these issues for weeks or months, leading to further complications.
Cats aren’t particularly good at keeping their nails trimmed. There’s no type of scratching post that you can buy to make most cats keep their claws short. Even with access to a post, many adult cats will suffer from painful split nails. In order to help combat these issues and keep both you and your cat comfortable, trim your cat’s nails regularly to a healthy length.
For an outdoor cat, this might involve just taking off a little bit of the tips to help keep the nails from splitting. For indoor cats, however, you can trim just past the quick and render your cat’s claws nearly harmless against human flesh. This means no more accidental scratches on you. It’ll also help reduce the purchase that your cat’s claws find on your furniture and upholstery.
If your cat likes baths, giving your cat a quick wash with water every once in a while isn’t a bad idea. Cats can definitely get smelly after certain activities or accidents. Your cat will eventually get most of the scent out with their own grooming habits, but giving them a bath can be a good way to accelerate the process.
Many cats, however, do not like being bathed. Veterinary experts suggest that you mostly shouldn’t bathe your cat at all. Your cat spends a lot of time carefully spreading its scent all around its body as part of its natural grooming process. When you throw your cat in a sink full of water, you reset this scent and force your cat to restart the process.
The typical cat also really, really, really dislikes everything associated with bathing, especially the part where they get wet. Forcing your cat to undergo regular baths can have a negative impact on your relationship with the cat.
If your cat gets skunked, finds something particularly disgusting to roll around in, or otherwise has a scent emergency, bathing is an acceptable solution. It is not, however, recommended as a regular activity. There are a few exceptions to this: elderly and obese cats can struggle to clean themselves properly. Some hairless cats require regular bathing to keep their skin clean. Otherwise, keep baths to a minimum.
Your cat is mostly self-sufficient when it comes to grooming, but it’s still a cat. As a human, you’ve got access to tools, knowledge, and techniques that far surpass anything your cat is capable of. Giving your cat a hand by combing out loose fur, removing mats, trimming their nails, and removing excess earwax every once in a while is a good idea.
These activities will improve the health of your cat, the safety of your skin, and the cleanliness of your home. They’ll also give you a great excuse to check your cat for other medical issues and help you notice problems before it’s too late.