We all know that cats like to keep themselves clean. They have special barbs on their tongues that act as combs to keep their coats clean and tangle free, grooming is a huge source of comfort to cats as well as a way to keep their coats in perfect condition. We vets tend to see cats with coat problems when they either over or under groom.

Cats will tend to over-groom when they are itchy or stressed. In the vast majority of cases itchy cats are itchy because they have fleas but there are other allergies and skin issues that can cause itchiness. Stress that causes over-grooming can stem from all sorts of issues from a new family member to builders in the house to a new cat in the neighbourhood. When cats over groom we see a thinning of the coat and then ultimately damage to the skin underneath – we try and treat over-grooming by treating the underlying cause – be it parasites, allergens or stress. These cases can be frustrating as there is often not a quick fix and even once the underlying cause is treated hair can take time to re-grow.

At the other end of the spectrum cats can get problems with their coats when they do not groom properly. This is often an issue of the long-haired cat; long-haired breeds will often need brushing by their owners as their coats are just too much to manage themselves. Problems arise when owners cannot brush their cats or when cats get older and self grooming becomes an issue. More about his next week.