Q: Why has my cat stopped grooming?

Mary T.

I thought my cat would never start cleaning herself as a growing kitten, but eventually she did. She was a paragon of cleanliness for years. Why is she now “letting herself go?”

Chosen Answer

Failure to groom might be a sign of feline dementia, obesity, or pain of arthritis.

Most kittens begin self-grooming with tongue and paws around 15 days after birth. (“Mom licks me and it feels good. I think I’ll try myself.’) Your slow-learner cat might have started that early, too, when you weren’t watching. Luckily for you it’s worked all these years, but now you’re starting to see tangled mats in that ill-kempt fur.

Old cats suffering feline dementia sometimes forget helpful habits of a lifetime. Cats of any age can become so obese that they simply can’t reach everywhere — and give up cleaning anywhere. Pain from arthritis also can hinder cats from their bathing ritual.

Consult with your veterinarian (obesity and arthritis are treatable) but don’t be surprised if you get a new assignment: Brush and clean that cat.

Not with your tongue, silly!

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