How Much Time Should Your Cat Spend Grooming?
Why do cats groom so often?
Cats spend large portions of their day cleaning because they like to be clean. Most household cats will spend between 30-50% of their average day grooming by licking, rubbing, scratching and more.
The reason your cat grooms so often is to stay clean, but also to:
- regulate their body temperature (keep cool or warm)
- improve their coat with oils
- stimulate blood circulation
- calm their anxious nerves
- keep their mind active and avoid boredom
- remove or mask scent from predators
- soothe pain from injuries or illness
- remove parasites or unwanted guests like fleas
- out of enjoyment or habit
How much time should your cat spend grooming?
How to tell if your cat is grooming too often
Because cats spend nearly half of their day grooming, it can be hard to tell if they are doing it too often. The average time a cat spends grooming can depend on:
- their physical ability or energy
- their environment and time spent outdoors
- age and breed
- current health status
As well as these factors, some cats simply enjoy grooming more than others. Typically, the time your cat spends grooming itself isn’t a concern unless you notice symptoms of overgrooming.
Signs of an over-grooming cat may include:
- patches of balding or thinning fur at groomed sites
- changes of coat colour
- disinterest in other activities when grooming and reluctance to stop
- evidence of skin irritation like redness and rashing
How to tell if your cat isn’t grooming itself enough
While some cats spend 50% of the day grooming, others may groom far less often.
Signs that your cat isn’t grooming enough may include:
- litter or debris stuck to their paws or fur
- unusual, unpleasant smells
- matting of fur
- discolouration of the coat
- an increase in shedding
Causes of cat grooming more or less often
If your cat is grooming more than usual
There are numerous reasons your cat is grooming more often than it usually does.
Usually environmental factors, your cat is probably trying to get clean again. In saying that, a cat may show increased interest in grooming behaviours if it is:
- trying to get rid of fleas, mites, ticks, or other parasites
- experiencing an allergic reaction to its environment, other animals, or chemicals
- affected by a bacterial, yeast, or fungal infection
- in pain caused by cuts, bruising or conditions like arthritis
- uncomfortable or stressed
If your cat isn’t grooming as much as it usually does
A decrease in the grooming habits of a cat isn’t unusual as they age and isn’t often cause for concern. But, if the change in habit is more sudden, it might be time to contact your veterinarian for insight.
The most common reasons a cat may begin to groom itself less frequently include:
- the decrease of energy and joint movement with age
- lethargy or restricted movement caused by illness or health condition
- obesity and associated lethargy and restricted ability to reach areas
- interest in other activities such as new toys or foods
- cautiousness or anxiety caused by a change in environment
What to do if your cat stops grooming or is grooming too frequently?
Like with other sudden changes in your pet’s behaviour, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by making an appointment with your local vet. During your checkup, you can talk through the behaviour your cat has been displaying at home while your pet is getting a physical examination of its coat, and body, and potentially testing for allergies.
You may be advised on ways to increase or decrease your cat’s grooming habits, such as:
creating and maintaining a routine at home with feeding, outside time, and activities
changing the diet of your cat
helping to groom your cat by brushing
ways to stimulate your pet like toys or activities they can enjoy
Because sudden or unusual changes in cat behaviour can be an indication of an underlying illness, it’s important you contact us for help when you start to notice them.