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While our cats do groom themselves, some, particularly long-haired cats, may need a little extra help. We’ve put together a handy guide for tips on cat grooming.

Our cats usually need very little from us in the way of fur maintenance. They are well known for being very clean and like to groom themselves. However, some cats might find this difficult for lots of reasons so you may need to groom your cat yourself. 


Do I need to groom my cat?

There are some cases where you will need to groom your cat. You may need to groom your cat if:

  • they have long fur
  • they have matted fur
  • they can’t groom themselves as well (for example, if they are older or have mobility issues)
  • they’ve just had an operation which means wearing a cone (and can’t reach themselves to groom)
  • they’ve been outside and have things stuck in their fur – it’s better for you to get these out rather than your cat lick and swallow them

Sometimes, cats just really enjoy being brushed so you may find yourself grooming your cat even if they don’t really need it.

Remember a change in your cat’s grooming habits could be a sign that there is a problem. If you notice your cat suddenly grooming less or more than usual, make an appointment with your vet to be on the safe side.

How to get your cat used to being groomed

If you can, you should try to introduce grooming equipment (such as combs and brushes) to your cat from a young age. This will help them get used to being groomed and see it as a good thing rather than something scary. Watch our video for more information on getting your cat used to grooming:


Ideally, grooming should be carried out with as little restraint as possible. This will make it better for your cat and less stressful for yourself. When first introducing grooming to your cat, don’t try and do it all at once. Doing a little bit at a time and build them up.

If you have taken on a cat that needs grooming but has had bad experiences of grooming in the past, you may want to contact a qualified behaviourist who can work through a desensitisation and counter-conditioning plan with you and your cat to help make them less fearful.

Best tools for grooming your cat

You need to make sure you have the right equipment for grooming your cat. Usually at most you’ll only need to brush them.

A lot of what you use may be down to your cat’s preference and fur length. For example, a long-haired cat might be fine with a comb, but a short-haired cat might prefer a soft brush.

Have a look in your local pet shop or supermarket for:

  • comb – ideal for long-haired cats
  • brush – good for giving your short-haired cat a weekly once over
  • grooming mitt – some cats prefer these as it feels like you are just stroking them. They’re better for short-haired cats

How often you should groom your cat

How often you groom your cat will depend on their fur length and your cat’s individual situation. For example, a short-haired cat may only need a weekly brush, whereas a long-haired cat will need a daily brush particularly if they are an outdoor cat.

Even if your cat only has short fur, you might find you need to brush them twice a week during the spring and autumn when they shed their fur the most.

Why is my cat suddenly overgrooming?

Cats are known to spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves to maintain a clean coat and skin. However, sometimes they may overdo it and excessive grooming can lead to hair loss and sores.

If you notice your cat losing more hair than usual, showing bald patches, or exhibiting behaviours such as chewing on their fur or making their skin sore, those could be the signs of overgrooming.

It can be challenging to determine the exact cause and therefore, we suggest observing your cat to see if they pluck, bite or break their skin. Keep a diary of the times they perform this behaviour, noting down what happened before and after. It can also be beneficial to show video footage of the behaviour to your vet. 

Once medical problems have been ruled out by a vet, it is likely to be a behavioural issue caused by stress, environmental changes, or other pets. In such cases, we recommend seeking the help of a qualified behaviourist who can help assess the causes of stress and make your cat feel more comfortable. They can be found at

In the meantime, you can try using a pheromone product such as FELIWAY® which can be a great support tool for helping stressed cats alongside other environmental measures. You can also check out our guide on managing your cat's behaviour.

Trimming your cat’s claws

Your cat should keep their claws in good condition through scratching. Make sure you provide them with plenty of scratching posts and other ways to keep their claws in good condition.

Sometimes as our cats get older they may become less active and scratch less. This may mean that you need to give their claws a trim to help keep them at the right length for your cat. Make sure you use clippers specifically for your cat’s claws and ask your vet nurse to trim them if you are worried about doing it yourself.

How to trim your cat's claws

Bathing your cat

It is very unlikely that your cat will ever need a bath. It’s no myth that cats don’t like water, and as long as they are grooming themselves they should stay clean. Often, using a soft cloth soaked in warm water will be enough to remove most dirt.

The only time you would need to bathe your cat is if they have something potentially toxic in their fur. It’s best to ring your vet for advice if this happens as it can be a very stressful experience for cats who are not used to water.

If you do need to give your cat a bath, you should try to avoid using more than just water or use a product specifically made for cats.

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