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Is Your Cat Not Cleaning Its Bottom? (12 Common Reasons)

Is Your Cat Not Cleaning Its Bottom? (12 Common Reasons)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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One of the many things that we love about cats is that they are fastidiously clean. When they are eating, sleeping, or playing, cats can usually be found perched comfortably, grooming themselves from tip to tail.

But what happens if you have a cat that misses a section, and more importantly, it’s bottom? Our beloved cats enjoy the run of the house and having one that isn’t cleaning its bottom can be a frustrating and messy problem.

These are some of the causes of a cat not cleaning its bottom:

  1. Incorrect diet causing wet poop
  2. Obesity
  3. Injury
  4. Arthritis
  5. Long Fur
  6. Advanced age
  7. Delay in grooming schedule
  8. Medical condition
  9. Premature separation from mother
  10. Stress
  11. Smelly litterbox
  12. Stuck hairball

We love our little feline bundles of fur, and keeping our cats healthy is a top priority for most pet owners. However, having a cat roaming about our clean home with a messy bottom can be distressing, and we want to find a solution as quickly as possible.

There are many possible reasons why a cat isn’t cleaning its bottom. Before trying to find a solution, first, determine whether or not this is a new issue that has developed or if the cat has never managed to keep its bottom clean.

A cat that is neglecting to groom itself is indicating that it has a problem. It may be receiving an incorrect diet, hiding pain, or just not physically able to clean its own bottom.

It is important to remember that no cat wants to have a filthy bottom. Never punish or shun your cat because it is not cleaning itself. There is an explanation for the behavior, and with some patience and a few wet wipes, you can figure out the cause and take steps to remedy the condition.

1 – As a Result of Diet

A healthy and normal cat poop should be pretty solid and almost dry. In most instances, your cat shouldn’t need to do much grooming around its bottom at all because the poop will pass entirely without leaving much mess.

A cat that has diarrhea is less likely to clean itself. The messy liquid poo can get into the cat’s fur, which is not pleasant for you, or your cat.

There are many reasons that a cat can develop loose poo, but the main culprit is usually diet. Cats need high protein diets. In nature, they are known as hypercarnivores because their bodies cannot digest other types of food.

Providing quality, balanced dry cat food and only small amounts of wet food can limit the amount of messy poop that your cat produces. If the consistency of your cat’s poop seems too loose and it is getting into its fur, ask your vet about adding a probiotic to keep your digestive tract healthy.

Cats can develop diarrhea as a result of changes in their diet or food allergies. They may also be on medication for another condition that upsets their stomach.

If your cat also has access to the outdoors, it might have eaten something that has upset its tummy. This change in poo consistency may make a cat reluctant to clean its bottom.

2 – As a Result of Obesity

Many cat owners are guilty of overfeeding their beloved pets. We love them and want them to be well-fed and carefree.

Besides many other health issues, obesity can cause flexibility issues. If your cat is plump and you notice that it is not cleaning its bottom, it might well be that it is no longer physically able to reach its bottom.

And while it may seem adorable to us to have a fat, round cat lazing about, it is not the best thing for your cat. There are weight management cat foods available, or you can invest in a dry food dispenser with a timer to limit the amount of food that the cat can consume at any given time.

Discuss a realistic diet plan with your veterinarian, and don’t suddenly just cut your previously overfed cat down to tiny portions. It will cause stress which may lead to other health issues.

Along with a restricted diet, you can also increase your cat’s amount of activity during the day. Some simple pull-along string toys will encourage your chubby cat to move around more. The extra exercise will not only relieve boredom but will help to stimulate its bowel to empty fully.

3 – As a Result of Injury

There is a common misperception that when cats fall, they always land on their feet. This is simply not true. While cats are generally very athletic, they can get stiff and injured if they fall or overexert themselves.

If your cat has always cleaned its bottom and suddenly seems reluctant to fold its body over to groom its rear end, it may have stiff muscles due to an injury.

If your cat is not elderly or obese but seems to be struggling to twist its body or bend its neck, try to remember if there have been any incidents when the cat might have fallen or sustained another type of injury. If you are in doubt, have a vet take a look.

4 – As a Result of Arthritis

Like humans, cats often develop arthritis in old age. This condition is painful, and one of the tell-tale signs that your elderly cat could have joint pain is that it will spend less time grooming.

There is no cure for arthritis. Your vet can prescribe drugs to control the inflammation and pain so your golden-oldie can get on with life. As soon as the joint pain is managed, the cat should resume its regular grooming habits.

There are also some practical ways to help your cat that has arthritis to keep its bottom clean. Ensure that its diet contains plenty of fiber so that poo passes easily and provide a litter box that has low sides so that kitty can climb in and out easily and will feel relaxed while using the litterbox.

5 – As a Result of Long Fur

Long-haired cats have long hair all over their gorgeous fluffy bodies, and that includes around their butts. Using the litter box without any poo getting onto their fur can be tricky.

Short-haired cats don’t often have this problem, so if you have a cat with long hair, ensure that the area around its bottom is trimmed regularly. Most groomers can provide an inexpensive maintenance trim intended to keep the area around the hindquarters neat and manageable for your cat to keep clean.

If you decide to trim the cat’s hair yourself, be sure to use blunt tip scissors and wait until both you and the cat are relaxed. While snipping, always keep a comb between the cat’s skin and the fur.

Comb the hair regularly so that it is not tangled or become matted around your cat’s bottom. You can even run in a tiny amount of raw coconut oil to keep the comb moving smoothly to untangle knots.

It is vital to maintain the hair around the bottom of your long-haired cat. If you notice that the cat has poop stuck in its long fur, it may not be able to remove it, and it can build up over time and become a more serious condition known as a fecal mat.

6 – As a Result of Old Age

When cats become very elderly, they may also start lacking energy and become frail. If your elderly cat occasionally has traces of poop on its bottom, it may be because it is resting while in the litter box.

It is worth remembering that all creatures slow down with age. You may just have to keep some cat-safe wet wipes handy to assist your elderly fur-baby if it sometimes drifts off while pooping and sits back in its own poo.

Keep your old cat’s diet as healthy as possible so that the consistency of the poop doesn’t become runny. More than that, keep the cat litter clean and shower your cat with the same love and affection it has given you while it was in its prime.

7 – Because of Timing

If you notice your cat using its litterbox and emerging with a dirty bottom, don’t distract it from settling down to groom.

Try not to provide any exciting activities that it wants to rush over to join while it is using the litter tray. As you know, the sound of a tin of cat food opening is a magnet for cats, and your cat may rush off the litter box without finishing its job just to be first at the wet food.

If you see that your cat is not cleaning its bottom, of course, you don’t want a mess all over your house, but before you reach for the wet wipes to clean up, give it a chance to settle down and groom.

8 – As a Result of Illness

A common and smelly condition that affects the bottom end of cats is anal sac disease. The cat’s anal glands that usually expel fluids that it uses to mark territory swell up and become painful.

If your cat usually grooms itself perfectly suddenly has a smelly bottom, or you notice that it is struggling to poop, take it to a veterinarian to check out. Besides just draining the glands, the cat may require an antibiotic to relieve the infection.

9 – Because of Early Separation

Kittens learn how to groom themselves from their mothers. When infants are separated from their mothers prematurely, they may lack basic cat grooming knowledge.

Raising tiny orphan kittens can be hard work. Like all baby animals, they need constant care. One of the reasons mother cats lick their babies is to encourage them to urinate and poop. Grooming them also teaches them to keep themselves clean, and kittens start grooming themselves from around four weeks of age.

If your cat was orphaned or taken away from its mother at a very young age, it might never have learned proper grooming habits. Help it along by keeping wipes handy, so you can help it to clean off its bottom.

Try to mimic the sensation of a mother cat licking as often as possible by gently stroking your cat using a soft toothbrush. Patience is the name of this game, and in time your cat will hopefully get the hang of grooming itself thoroughly.

10 – As a Result of Stress

When cats are stressed, they often over or under groom. When they overgroom, they frequently lick out entire patches of fur.

And while some cats groom themselves too much when stressed, some let themselves go. A stressed cat may huddle in a corner and become less active.

If you suspect your cat is not cleaning itself due to something new in the home that might be distressing it, like a new pet or you have moved to a new house, there are some herbal remedies that you can give it to help it settle.

When you introduce a new cat to your home, it may take a bit of time for it to relax and start grooming itself thoroughly. Provide it with a clean litterbox in a quiet area where it feels safe.

11 – Because of Smelly Litterbox

If your cat is not cleaning its bottom regularly, check that it is not perhaps trying to rush its toilet routine because the litterbox is an unpleasant place to be.

The litterbox area should be scooped after each poop, and litter must be topped-up and replaced regularly. Your cat needs to be able to relax while it is relieving itself so that the entire poop passes out entirely and it does not feel like it needs to rush to get off a smelly layer of cat litter.

12 – Because a Hairball Is Stuck

If you notice a fairly dry piece of poop dangling out of your cat’s bottom, it might just be an occasional hairball causing the messy problem. It sounds gross, but a cat cannot remove a piece of stringy poop from its bottom on its own, and licking it is not an option for such clean animals.

If you do spot an occasional bit of partially dried poop hanging from your cat’s bottom, the solution is very easy. Help your cat to remove the poop by gently helping it out with a wet wipe. If this is a frequent issue, it might be worth looking into a hairball treatment.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why a cat might not be cleaning its bottom. Failure to groom thoroughly is a clear signal that something is wrong. It may be a health concern, long fur, or because of something in its environment.

Our kitties can soon revert to being their usual fastidious feline selves with some detective work and patience.