You might have noticed that your cat spends a lot of time grooming yourself. Maybe you’ve even worried that she’s grooming too much. But how do you know?

First, it’s normal for cats to groom often. In fact, adult cats spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming! No, your cat isn’t vain. Grooming has a number of important benefits. For one thing, it helps them keep cool when it’s hot outside. It also serves as a way to self-medicate if your cat has a cut; their saliva contains a natural antibiotic. Plus, grooming is a source of stress relief. It feels good. Not to mention that there’s an instinctual component. By removing traces of food or other scented matter from their fur, cats can ward of predators in the wild. That instinct hasn’t died in house cats! When cats groom each other, it’s also a sign of friendship and bonding. So it makes sense that your cat invests a lot into his appearance!

If your cat is grooming too much, you’ll notice fur falling out, especially in patches. This isn’t normal shedding; there will be bald spots. Cats can overgroom for a number of reasons. Stress is a big one. There could also be a medical issue such as a thyroid problem. If you notice your cat is overgrooming you should see your vet right away. Thyroid issues in particular can be extremely dangerous for your cat’s long-term health.

Undergrooming is also a problem that requires vet attention. If your cat’s coat is getting too thick, or it’s dull, they’re not grooming enough. Contrary to popular belief, hairballs aren’t normal. If your cat has more than two a year, it might be the sign of a larger problem. Like overgrooming, undergrooming can have emotional or physical causes. It’s best to get your cat checked out right away!

Want more information? Check out these great resources!

Cats that Lick Too Much” by Susan Easterly

An Inside Look at Cat Grooming” by Jennifer Viegas

What is Normal Cat Grooming?” by Jennifer Viegas