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Does My Cat Need a Grooming Appointment?

Learn when a cat needs to visit a groomer.

Many people believe that cats are self-grooming pets and, for the most part, they're right. When you compare a cat to a dog, you'll find that most cats keep their fur and skin much cleaner than most dogs. In fact, a cat can spend several hours a day working on self-grooming tasks.

Still, there are some situations when a cat needs the help of a professional groomer, so it's important that cat owners know how to recognize those moments.

Routine Grooming All Cats Need

There are three grooming tasks that all cats need help with routinely:

Of course, some cats need to be brushed more often than others. Long-haired cats with easily-tangled fur and short-faced cats that have more trouble keeping up with self-grooming might need brushing several times a week. Other cats may only need a brush run over them weekly. Additionally, some individual cats might have certain areas of their body they tend to neglect, leaving them to get knots, so you'll need to observe your cat to see if there's a spot like that she needs routine help with.

All cats need routine tooth brushing done at home. Daily is best, but at least weekly tooth brushing should be attempted using a soft children's brush or finger brush and feline-specific toothpaste.

Trimming the hooks off the ends of your cat's claws once a week can decrease damage down to carpets and furniture and decrease the chances that they'll grow too long, curving around to puncture the paw pad (which is more common in cats with extra toes and elderly cats).

Most of this time, these three care items can be done by the owner at home, but some cats aren't cooperative enough for it. Those cats need regular grooming appointments to have the tasks attended to.

Signs Your Cat Needs Non-Routine Grooming

Sometimes, a cat needs more than routine brushing and claw trimming. Keep an eye out for these signs that your cat needs an appointment with a professional groomer.

  • Mats in the fur. You can try brushing them out, but if they are tight, severe, or painful, you will need help. Never try to cut mats out of your cat's fur with scissors. It is extremely easy to lacerate a cat's skin while using scissors.

Some cats need sedation for grooming appointments, and those cats might need to have the work done at a veterinary clinic.

  • Anal sac issues. The anal sacs are located just inside the rectum, and they contain material used by the cat to communicate with other cats. Sometimes, the sacs get overly full or infected. If there is foul-smelling material on your cat's tail or rear end or you notice it left where your cat is lying down, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended. If it's determined that your cat's anal sacs aren't emptying normally on their own, she might need to visit a groom routinely to have them expressed.
  • Your cat has rolled in something yucky. If your cat has something icky like a dead animal, you will want to give her a bath or have a groomer do so right away. Otherwise, your cat will clean it off and ingest the repulsive substance. Of course, if the substance is a chemical or something toxic, you should go to the vet, not the groomer.

If your cat has patches of missing fur, redness, selling, or oozing of the skin, or discharge from the eyes or nose, you need a veterinary appointment before seeing the groomer.

  • Claws have grown into the pad.
  • If your cat's claws or a claw has grown all the way around in a circle or is poking into a paw pad, you should see a veterinarian. After that, be aware that your cat will need routine claw trimmings at home or by a groomer to keep the problem from occurring again.
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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.