What Happens If You Never Groom Your Cat?

Grooming is an essential part of caring for cats. Regular grooming provides many health and hygiene benefits for cats. Grooming helps distribute natural oils throughout the fur, removes loose hair, and prevents tangles and mats. It also gives the opportunity to check for parasites like fleas and ticks, skin irritations, and other potential health issues. Grooming is a social activity for cats and facilitates bonding with other cats and humans. Overall, regular grooming is vital for cats’ physical health, socialization, and emotional wellbeing.

Matted Fur

Matted fur occurs when loose hair gets tangled together. This happens most often in long-haired cats who are not groomed regularly. The fur becomes a dense mass that feels like felt. Matted fur is caused by:

– Normal shedding. All cats shed, and without brushing, the loose hairs cling together.[1]

– Lack of grooming. Cats spend up to 50% of their awake time grooming themselves. Without this, fur easily becomes matted.[2]

– Age and mobility issues. Older cats or those with joint problems may have difficulty grooming, leading to matted fur.[3]

Matted fur can cause skin irritation, infections, parasites, and mobility issues. Prevention involves regularly brushing and combing your cat, especially problem areas like the back, belly, and behind the legs. Keeping your cat’s fur healthy and mat-free is an essential part of grooming.

Skin Irritation

When cats are not groomed regularly, their skin can become irritated for a variety of reasons. Common causes of skin irritation from lack of grooming include:

– Matted fur pulling on the skin – Tight mats caused by lack of grooming can constantly pull and tug on the skin, leading to irritation, sores, and pain (WebMD).

– Accumulation of dirt, dander and oil – Cats groom themselves to remove dirt, dander, debris, and excess oil from their coat. When grooming stops, these substances build up and can cause inflammation and irritation (Purina).

– Bacterial or fungal infections – Lack of grooming allows microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to overgrow, leading to infections that are itchy and irritating for cats (PetMD).

Common symptoms of skin irritation from lack of grooming include redness, inflammation, small bumps or pustules, scabs, dandruff, and scratching or overgrooming of itchy areas. Skin irritation can range from mild to severe based on the underlying cause and duration of ungroomed matting and debris buildup.

Increased Susceptibility to Fleas and Ticks

One of the biggest risks of not grooming your cat is increased susceptibility to fleas, ticks, and other external parasites. According to Is it ok to shave a cat because of fleas? If not, what are …, cats with ungroomed coats and overgrown fur are more vulnerable to flea and tick infestations. Fleas and ticks can easily hide in their thick coats and be harder to spot and remove.

Fleas and ticks feed on your cat’s blood and can cause skin irritation, infections, anemia, and transmit diseases. According to Cat Flea and Tick – The Importance of Managing …, regular grooming helps remove fleas and ticks and their eggs before they can multiply. It’s important to use flea and tick prevention medications as well as groom your cat regularly to manage infestations and protect their health.


All cats shed, but a cat that isn’t groomed regularly will shed excessively. The lack of grooming allows dead hair to accumulate in the coat instead of being removed. This can lead to matted fur, skin irritation, and increased shedding as new hair pushes out the old.

Excessive shedding can cause problems like hairballs if the dead hair is ingested during self-grooming. Hairballs can lead to vomiting and even intestinal blockages that require emergency veterinary treatment. Regular grooming helps remove loose hair and prevent issues caused by excess shedding.

According to Why Cats Shed & What You Can Do to Manage the Mess, steady grooming and dietary changes can help reduce shedding in cats. Brushing helps remove the dead hair so it doesn’t become a problem.


When cats don’t groom themselves, it can lead to a buildup of oils on their skin and coat, causing them to develop an unpleasant odor. This is because regular grooming helps distribute oils evenly across the fur and allows cats to remove dirt and dead hair that can cause bad smells.

Specifically, the odor is often described as musky or urine-like. According to one source, “Cat grooming habits address their own odor. This often means that if you are detecting the smell of cat urine, it is likely that the cat is no longer grooming” (https://www.nomnomnow.com/learn/article/does-your-cat-smell-like-urine).

The smell may be caused by a buildup of oils on the skin, dead hair trapped in the coat, dried saliva, or even feces stuck to the fur around the rear. Solutions include regularly brushing and bathing the cat to remove debris and distribute oils. Check for underlying health issues that may prevent grooming. And use pet-safe odor neutralizers on the coat.

Digestive Issues

Failure to groom your cat consistently and thoroughly can lead to significant digestive issues. Cats are prolific self-groomers and ingest a lot of fur while cleaning themselves. Most of this fur will pass easily through the digestive tract. However, without regular brushing and combing, a cat’s fur can become severely matted. This leads to the cat ingesting more fur than usual when grooming herself.

The excess fur can cause the formation of hairballs in the stomach and intestinal tract. Hairballs are clusters of fur and other indigestible material that collect in the digestive system. As Purina notes, hairballs cause issues such as vomiting and constipation when they obstruct or block parts of the digestive tract like the intestines. Cats will vomit up hairballs periodically as a natural process, but frequent hairball vomiting is not normal or healthy.

Constipation from hairballs is also dangerous, as noted by Animal Wellness Magazine. When a hairball fully obstructs the intestines, it can cut off the ability to defecate. This is extremely dangerous and requires immediate veterinary treatment. The blocked digestive tract can rapidly lead to toxic poisoning and a potentially fatal condition called enteritis.

Regular brushing helps mitigate hairball problems by removing loose fur before the cat can ingest it during grooming. Brushing also helps stimulate the digestive tract to keep hair and food moving through normally. For cats prone to hairballs, there are special diets and supplements that can help lubricate the digestive tract and ease the passage of hairballs. But preventing excessive fur ingestion through regular, gentle brushing is the best first line of defense, as advocated by Purina experts.


Grooming is an important part of socialization and bonding between cats and their owners. Regular brushing and grooming helps cats become comfortable being handled and touched. Cats that don’t get groomed often can become more fearful, anxious, and aggressive when handled. According to Maddie’s Fund, cats that are not used to being groomed may exhibit signs of fear and defense when brushed, such as dilated pupils, ears turning back, twitching tail, growling, hissing or swatting. Neglecting grooming can lead to poor social skills and greater aggression in cats.

Overall Health

Grooming plays an important role in maintaining a cat’s overall health. Cats who are not groomed regularly are at an increased risk for various health problems and diseases. Matted fur and shedding can allow dander, dirt, and other irritants to build up on a cat’s skin. This not only causes skin irritation and infections, but these irritants can also be ingested when the cat grooms itself leading to internal issues.

Fleas, ticks and other parasites can more easily infest a cat with unkempt fur. Parasites can transmit dangerous diseases like bartonellosis, rickettsiosis, and lyme disease. Unpleasant odor and shedding hairs can also attract more fleas looking for a host.

Poor coat care has also been linked to increased dental disease. Matted fur around the mouth traps bacteria and makes it difficult for cats to properly groom themselves and keep their teeth clean. Dental infections can spread to other parts of the body.

Lack of grooming can take both a physical and mental toll on cats. Regular brushing stimulates blood flow to the skin, conditions the coat, and distributes natural oils. Groomed cats tend to be more active and social. Unkept fur and constant itching can cause chronic stress, irritability and anti-social behavior.

In summary, grooming plays a vital role in feline health. Cats who are not properly groomed face increased risks of skin disease, parasite infestation, dental infections, and stress that can compromise their overall wellbeing.


Regular grooming and maintaining a grooming routine for your cat is extremely important for their health and wellbeing. Cats that are not properly groomed can develop a number of issues, including matted fur, skin irritation, fleas, shedding, odor, and poor health overall.

Grooming helps remove loose hair, dirt, and debris from a cat’s coat. It also allows you to inspect their skin for any potential issues or parasites. Maintaining a regular schedule helps build trust and the human-animal bond. Proper grooming is an essential part of caring for a cat. It should be an ongoing routine throughout their lifetime to promote good hygiene, reduce health risks, and strengthen your relationship with your feline companion.

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