Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

When You Need a Grooming Appointment for Your Cat

Learn the signs that your cat needs to go to a groomer.

Cats are often thought of as "self-cleaning," and, to a large extent, many of them are. However, some cats aren't able to groom themselves as well as others, some have breed-specific characteristics that lend themselves to requiring grooming intervention, and sometimes extending circumstances cause a need for a cat to visit a groomer.

What Routine Grooming Do All Cats Need?

All cats, regardless of their breed, age, and other circumstances, need certain basic grooming done by us. This includes:

The majority of cats can have these basic grooming requirements performed at home. However, some cats are averse to having some of them done, so those cats might require grooming appointments even for this basic care.

As cats get older, they often groom themselves less or aren't as efficient at it, so they may need more frequent brushing and claw trimming as they age.

What Are Some Signs Your Cat Needs a Special Grooming Appointment?

Here are some things to watch for that indicate your cat needs an appointment with a professional groomer:

  • Mats in the fur. If your cat has knots or mats in the fur that you are unable to brush out, a grooming appointment needs to be made. Never attempt to cut mats out yourself because it is surprisingly easy to lacerate a cat's skin that way. A qualified groomer trained to remove mats should be consulted. Veterinary clinics can usually perform mat removal, as well.
  • Leakage from the anal glands. You might notice this as a foul odor left on surfaces that your cat lies on. Some anal gland issues are medical, so a visit to the veterinarian before the groomer is a good idea. If it's determined that your cat needs regular anal gland expression, some groomers can perform it.
  • Ingrown claws. Cats' claws curve as they grow, and sometimes they can curl around and grow into the paw pad. This is painful and needs to be addressed. A veterinarian should look at your cat and determine if the paw pad wound needs medicine, but an ingrown claw is an indication that your cat needs to visit the groomer or have more frequent home claw trims.
  • Your cat has gotten into something yucky. If your cat has gotten something repulsive on her skin or fur, make an immediate appointment with the groomer for a bath. Otherwise, your cat will ingest the yucky substance trying to remove it herself. If your cat has had a chemical spill on her or some type of topical medication not meant for cats was put on her, it is an emergency situation, so if you can't bathe her yourself, get her to a groomer or vet immediately and keep her from licking herself in the meantime.

If your cat develops a strong odor, is losing fur in patches, is scratching excessively or licking at particular spots, or has unusual eye, nose, or ear drainage, your first stop should be the veterinarian, not the groomer.

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