Problem: My cat doesn't clean herself

by Nancy
(Bloomingdale, IL)

She uses the litter box but doesn't clean herself afterward. I'm having to wash her rear every day or I find little brown poop spots all over my bed, carpeting and the rest of the house.











My Thoughts:

Some cats are more fastidious than others in the grooming area, but if a normally clean cat stops cleaning, that is a red flag.

Is she an older cat? Is this a new problem? Is she having diarrhea? Does she groom herself in other ways, or has she stopped cleaning herself completely?

Older cats may have difficulty cleaning, especially the hard to reach places, possibly due to pain and limited ability to move. Cats who've developed arthritis (at any age) or are injured may experience this as well.

Typically, if a cat stops cleaning and is not old then she's either injured or taking ill.

If the problem is only related to cleaning the butt area, then it very well could be a limited mobility issue due to injury or arthritis.

Now, it could instead be that she's having a bowel problem, such as constipation/diarrhea or impacted anal glands. Some cats will experience a "half-in/half-out" situation with that last bit of fecal matter if it's heavily wrapped in hair. I have, on many occasions, had to grab Frankie and "pull out" what wouldn't come out on its own because of all the hair. If you don't do that, you end up with a mess as you describe.

So, if it's a bowel problem then you'll have to treat for constipation, impacted anal glands, or other bowel problem.

So, new problem? Is she cleaning everywhere OK except the back end? Is she having a bowel issue perhaps?

-Kurt

Comments for Problem: My cat doesn't clean herself

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Apr 21, 2017
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Detanglers and Furminator
by: Kurt (Admin)

A Furminator will remove the lose hairs that tend to get matted, but the manufacturer states it won't cut the undercoat. The undercoat is important for temperature regulation.

You'd have to work on getting the mats out before using a Furminator, though. I'd also be careful because cats have thin skin that tends to be sensitive so I'd go easy.

You could always get help from a local professional groomer, and they may have some suggestions that will help as well.

Some readers have recommended using cream rinse to help get the tangles out. Some have had success with Eqyss brand products, which I mention here in a couple of comments.

To get the mats out, whether or not you use a detangler on the fur, I recommend trying the long end of a rat tail comb to get the majority of the mats out. Then you can use a comb to smooth them out the rest of the way.

I hope that helps.

Apr 21, 2017
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Elderly Cat No Longer Grooms
by: MarkC

I currently live with a 19 year old domestic short hair cat that I adopted when he was 6 months old. He's got a few medical issues that require twice daily medication, but is otherwise healthy (all things considered). However, he has arthritis and can no longer groom himself, and his fur is starting to get matted and oily... I'm starting to experiment with various cleaning/grooming techniques, but his coat is so thick that he needs some major thinning in order to get it under control again. Can you suggest something to purchase that removes both undercoat and loose fur? I don't want to shave him as he has circulation issues and also a very healthy fear of all things water... At 19, my 'Ol Man deserves a little help.

Jan 28, 2017
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my cat doesn't clean herself
by: Anonymous

My cat is now 10 --- a rescue cat. She doesn't clean herself after she poops. She had her pelvis broken as a kitten I was told so I have to give her a laxative which makes her poop runny a bit as we all know. I think it was because she was taken away from her mother too early that she never learned to clean herself. As a result, I use warm ( that is the trick )
rags to clean her off after she poops. I don't yank up her tail I just gently tell her good girl and gently wipe the stuff away. After that, she will clean herself.

It is a huge problem... I really hate it, but I love my cat and that is how I help her.

Sep 17, 2016
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Medical Issue?
by: Kurt (Admin)

Kittens should get the hang of it after a while.

Is this a problem he had at the shelter or rescue where you got him? If so, what do they believe is the reason and what is their advice?

If you didn't get him from a shelter or rescue, has he seen a vet to ensure he has no medical issues (i.e. he is physically able to clean himself, he has no worms, giardia, infections, other parasites, bowel problems, etc.)?

Healthy cat butts aren't usually that messy after a certain age.

Is his stool lose or does he have diarrhea? If so, he may either have a medical issue or he needs a change in diet.

Sep 17, 2016
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Rescue cat doesn't clean after pooping
by: Anonymous

How do I teach him what he needs to do? He isn't real happy with me wiping his butt...lol

Mar 23, 2009
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Kittens Separated From Their Mothers
by: Kurt (Cat Lovers Only Admin)

@Kyle --

Assuming a young cat is in good health, the cleaning issue (especially the butt) may be due to early learning processes being short circuited. Mother cats keep their kittens clean by grooming them often. Eventually, the kitten is old enough to take over the job completely.

If a cat is taken from its mother too early, however, it may be lacking some cleaning skills (and have other emotional/socialization issues). So, as the surrogate mother, it's now our jobs to instill the "I've gotta clean myself" desire into our cats. Some cat owners have been able to correct poor butt cleaning behavior by:

1. Consistently cleaning their cat -- Several times daily, wipe your cat down with a wet cloth. Some people use baby wipes, but make sure that whatever you use is not toxic to cats. I would use a soft rag with plain water. Wipe your cat down from head to toe.

2. Bathing their cat -- Sometimes a bath (or several baths, perhaps once per week or so) will kick start things. You can try this in addition to wiping her down often.

The ASPCA has a step-by-step for bathing your cat which you can follow. I'll just comment here on some points I think are important...

Sinks are better than tubs. It's easier to control your cat. You may also need help to restrain your cat as most object by biting, clawing, and scurrying away.

Get a rubber mat and put it down in the sink so that the cat can get a grip and doesn't slide around. They like to have firm footing and they may get scared and fight more if they don't feel secure.

Some cats may be turned off by using a sprayer. You can fill a bucket (or second sink if you have one) with warm water and use a cup to scoop the water and rinse your cat.

Some groomers and breeders recommend dish washing detergent like Dawn. This is often recommended to degrease Persians. Personally, I would prefer to use a product specifically made for cats so that no allergies or irritation can occur. Your cat's skin can be dried out by some shampoos or cleaners.

Watch out for the face, ears and eyes. Use a wet rag on the face or some diluted shampoo so the eyes don't get irritated.

Have some thick towels nearby so that you can wrap her up quickly and dry her off so she doesn't get chilled.

The younger the cat, the easier it will be to get her used to the bathing process. Remember, though, that a very young cat who gets soaked may get chilled.

One more idea:

You can also shave the back end hair to help with the cleaning. Electric clippers with a comb will work for this. This can be especially helpful for longer haired cats.

Wiping down your cat often and bathing may get your cat started on taking over the cleaning process for herself completely.

I hope that helps.

-Kurt

Mar 23, 2009
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My kitten is having the same problem with cleaning
by: Kyle

I have two kittens. The one is well behaved and cleans herself, the younger kitten has issues with cleaning herself after using the litter box, pooping. She cleans herself other wise. Just her poop that she doesn't clean. How can i get her to clean herself instead of wiping her butt all the time? please email me at ***email removed for spam filters*** for solutions.

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