When Grooming Goes Too Far

Cats Grooming
Cats Grooming

Grooming is a cat’s natural instinct.




What does your cat do when he is not sleeping?  Groom, groom, groom.  Mine seem to enjoy “tasting” their environment and will clean themselves for hours.  Admit it, cats love to lick!  They will groom themselves the entire time they are awake.  This not only keeps them clean but removes dead hair that could become matted and is often used as a means of calming a possible violent interaction.  You will often see cats involved in the typical kitty play that gets a little rough.  Watch closely and you will notice one cat will suddenly stop playing and start grooming himself.  In kitty language that’s like a time-out.  All play ceases until the grooming is complete and all parties are ready to resume the fun.  Sounds really effective to me.  And when your cat gets injured, it is his natural instinct to lick and clean the affected area.  This helps reduce irritation and lessen the pain of injury.  However, excessive licking often leads to infection and can actually slow down the healing process,unless you can limit the amount of licking your cat can do.  There are measures you can take to reduce licking that are simple and non-intrusive.  Some would include the use of lemon juice, Chew Guard, hot sauce or hot pepper flakes.  However, you should always consult your veterinarian before using any of these applications.  There are products that can be used to prevent your cat from reaching the wound such as an E-collar, Elizabethan collar, or an inflatable collar.  The E-collar is effective but takes the cat quite a while to become accustomed to.  Without peripheral vision, your cat may bump into walls or furniture and the disruption in his daily routine may reduce his desire to eat.  The inflatable collars limit the cat’s ability to turn his neck far enough to reach the wound but gives him the ability to eat and drink as normal and will not effect his peripheral vision.  Just be sure you purchase one that is sturdy enough to withstand kitty’s nails.

Suffice it to say that cats use grooming for many different reasons.  Always watch your cat for signs of excessive licking.  If he is not hurt and is not just tired of playing, there could be a deeper meaning that you should look in to.  Your cat may simply be bored or have some kind of behavior disorder.  Have you changed anything in your cat’s environment?  This could include a change of food, a rearrangement of furniture in the home, a new location for the litter box, a new roommate or new pet.  Cats are notorious for becoming stressed following changes in the house and that stress can easily become chronic licking.  Be sensitive to changes in your cat and approach the changes proactively.  Use the suggestions in this article to rule out simple reasons for the chronic licking and when you have exhausted those, it may be time to see the vet.  But always remember that your cat’s grooming is a natural instinct.  So, be sure you are grooming him at regular intervals. Order the following book for tips on grooming and the health of your cat:

Feline Gingivitis or “Poor Sammy”

How ironic can this be that just weeks after posting about pet dental care, one of my kitties is diagnosed with gingivitis?   Sad but true.  Little Sammy came home one day from cavorting around in the woods.  His fur under his neck was all matted and sticky and after grooming him, he was drooling.  The drooling wasn’t so bad, however  the foul odor from his mouth could have knocked over a pro linebacker!!  I was really scared for my fuzzy little friend and decided he needed to see a vet.  I was absolutely sure there was some sort of decaying carcass in there. I was sure he had some mysterious and expensive infection.   My alarm was a bit of an over reaction, much to my husband’s chagrin.  He actually thought this post should be about waiting a few days before seeing the vet when a problem is found.  Men are so silly, that wouldn’t have helped little Sammy at all.  He needed a diagnosis and treatment.  So after spending a good bit of our hard-earned cash, we were armed and ready to battle the gingivitis.

First the obligatory antibiotic treatment.  I love how the vet says “Just tilt your cat’s head back and the jaw will drop right down.  Pop in the pill and your done!”  Not so fast, sister – and not so simple either.  Did you know there are articles written on how to pill a cat?  It’s that tricky.  So little Sammy and I sat down on the comfy bed.  I held his fuzzy little body close to mine in order to keep a close eye on his claws.  With my left hand behind his head, I used my thumb and index finger to apply pressure to the jaw as I tilted his head back.  Sure enough, the jaw dropped down…Cool!!  Now if I could just get him to sit still.  I popped the pill in the back of his throat, closed up the jaw and stroked his neck to encourage him to swallow.  Okay.  That step was done.  Now on to the preventive steps that we will continue for a long time – brushing his teeth.The video from my previous post made it look easy.  And  it is with dogs because they are easier to secure and less likely to slash you with razor sharp claws. Cats are a bit different. The video below will show you how to wrap your cat in a towel, thus disarming him of his lethal weapons – the claws. Before I safely tuck little Sammy in a towel, I wrap my dominant finger with gauze and put a small amount of kitty toothpaste on the gauze. Once secured, Sammy is ready for his dental hygiene routine. I gently lift the front lip and begin rubbing the teeth in a circular pattern. I then move to the back teeth. It is not necessary to clean the inside of the teeth – thank goodness!!  Cats really don’t like to have their mouths opened by anyone but themselves.   When I’m done, I give lots of praise and treats. I like to use the FELINE GREENIES GREEN 6 OZ. treats that are designed for dental health. It has taken several attempts to make this a smooth process and Sammy’s gingivitis is improving.  I trust you will find this post helpful.