How Much Time Should Your Cat Groom Each Day?
Why your cat grooms
Most household cats will spend time grooming by licking, scratching, and rubbing at their paws, ears, joints, and just about everywhere else to stay clean.
And, more than that, when your cat is grooming, it may also be:
- regulating body temperature
- keeping their coat soft and clean with oils
- stimulating circulation
- removing unwanted guests and parasites
- soothing their anxious nerves
- keeping occupied and avoiding boredom
- trying to clean injuries or soothe pain
- acting out of instinct or habit
- acting out of enjoyment
- trying to remove or hide scent from potential predators
How Often Should Your Cat be Grooming?
Most household cats can spend between 30-50% of their day grooming and cleaning themselves, which is completely normal because they might be grooming for reasons other than cleaning, as mentioned above.
And, every cat is an individual. The amount of time spent grooming can depend on things like:
how active they are
how much time they spend outdoors
And, some cats simply like to groom more than others. The amount of time a cat spends grooming isn’t normally cause for concern unless you notice large changes in frequency or areas of interest (such as at wounds or joints).
In this case, you can check for additional symptoms of injury or illness, and contact us.
How to know if your cat grooms too often
A cat that is grooming itself too often will show symptoms like:
skin agitation (redness, rashes)
patches of thinning or missing fur
disinterest in other enjoyable activities, focusing on grooming instead
scratching at often groomed areas, or rubbing against objects in your home
Signs your cat isn’t grooming enough
A cat that isn’t grooming itself often enough may show noticeable changes in fur colour and feel. Typical signs of an under-grooming cat include:
A thick, dull coat of fur (usually more prone to matting)
Urine or droppings on the skin/fur surrounding your pet’s tail
Litter and debris stuck to the paws
Unusual or unpleasant smells
Why cats groom more or less often
Reasons your cat could be grooming more often
If your cat is suddenly grooming more often than it usually does, it may be affected by:
Parasites: like fleas, mites, lice
Allergies: foods, the environment, cleaning equipment, or other animals
Infection: bacterial, fungal, or yeast
Pain: cuts, bruising, or underlying conditions like arthritis
Stress/anxiety: often caused by changes in routine or environment
Reasons your cat may be grooming less often
The most common reasons a cat will groom less often than usual include:
Age: Their joints may be restricting movement and energy levels are lower
Illness: health conditions causing lethargy or restriction
Obesity: restricted movement and energy levels
How to help your cat with its grooming habits
Much of your cat’s grooming habit is built on routine and habit. Some ways to help your cat regulate its time spent grooming include:
maintaining routines at home (feeding, outside time, and when you’re home)
providing stimulation or activities for it to enjoy at home
helping it groom with occasional brushing
Sudden changes in behaviour are often caused by changes at home or underlying illness. If your cat’s grooming habits have noticeably changed suddenly, contact us for a veterinary checkup and assessment of your cat’s health.