Cat Not Cleaning Bum Properly – What Should I Do?

If your cat is unable or unwilling to clean its bum, clear any lingering feces immediately. Ignoring a dirty bottom increases the risk of toxoplasmosis.

Wipe away any fresh poop from your cat’s bum with wet wipes. Trim dry, clinging feces from the fur with scissors. Once done, you’ll need to work out why your cat isn’t cleaning its bottom. Chronic diarrhea, arthritis, obesity, dirty/unsuitable cat litter, and issues with the anal glands are the most likely causes.

Cleanliness is essential to cats. Whatever the reason for your cat’s unclean bottom, it needs to be resolved. Monitor your pet’s behavior closely to understand why your cat’s no longer cleaning its bottom.

How To Clean A Cat’s Bottom

If your cat has a dirty bum, the first thing to do is clean any hanging poop from the area.

Feline waste can contain Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is shed through a cat’s feces, introducing the risk of toxoplasmosis. There is a possibility of zoonotic (animal-to-human) transmission, so wash your hands when done.

To assist a cat that’s not able to clean its bum properly, do the following:

Cleaning Wet Feces

As discussed, wet, fresh fecal matter is a risk to feline and human health due to Toxoplasma gondii parasites. It’ll also stain the fur/home furnishings, smell bad, and look unsightly.

Wet Wipes And Cloths

You’ll need a damp cloth or wet wipes to tackle the stained area. However, you may find it easier to spray a pet-safe dry shampoo on the area before getting started.

If you’re using wet wipes, ensure that they’re unscented to avoid harming your cat’s skin. Cats have a different pH level than humans. Pet stores sell cat-specific wet wipes, and baby wipes from a pharmacy are usually safe.

Just avoid anything scented or that contains perfumes.

Shampoo And Wash

In the event of a particularly messy cat’s bottom, a more thorough wash will be required.

If so, fill the sink with warm water and mix in some cat shampoo. Gently lower your cat into the shallow water.

Dry Feces Removal

You may notice small clumps of dry poop clinging to your cat’s bum.

You either missed a spot when cleaning up wet feces, the poop was hard to remove, or the cat has sat in its dirty litter. Regardless, your cat isn’t cleaning or cannot clean its bottom properly.

Spray your cat’s bottom with warm water or let it sit in the water. Next, take a fine-toothed comb and run it through the fur, as this will pick out the stubborn waste. Sterilize the comb once the task has been completed.

The rest of the feces will need to be trimmed out using scissors. Once you’re done, consider shaving an area around your cat’s bum, especially if you have a long-haired cat.

Why Is My Cat Not Cleaning Its Bum?

Cats dislike feeling unclean just as much as you dislike them being dirty.

So, you’ll need to identify the cause of the problem to prevent its reoccurrence:

cat stopped cleaning bum

Limited Mobility

The most common reason for a cat failing to clean its bum is that it’s physically incapable of doing so. It takes flexibility for a cat to reach its bottom, and an arthritic senior cat may find doing so too painful.

If your cat can maneuver its body sufficiently to groom, it’ll do so. This is also dependent on that cat’s weight remaining manageable. Overweight cats will struggle to maneuver their bodies sufficiently to clean their bums.

Failure to clean the bottom in obese cats is common. The cat cannot reach the area to groom or lacks the energy to do so. Fat cats tire faster and will soon give up on cleaning any hard-to-reach areas.

Long Fur

Sometimes, a cat will get feces trapped because it has too much fur. Long-haired cats, in particular, are likely to experience this issue. Cats shed fur, but the natural process sometimes struggles to keep up.

Long-haired cats can get knots and mats in their fur, making grooming difficult and painful. So, a senior cat may eventually decide that grooming is more trouble as reaching the bottom will already be difficult.

Your cat won’t need an all-over groom too often. Just perform regular hygiene trims around the bottom area.

You can do this yourself, as pet clippers are available from various retailers. However, you need to be careful not to nick a cat’s delicate skin while trimming the area.


If your cat’s dirty bottom happens immediately, check if it has a stomach upset.

Your cat may be attempting to stay clean but struggling to do so. Diarrhea can be messy, trapping feces in the fur. Your cat may run out of energy before it has completed a full groom.

A one-off bout of diarrhea isn’t necessarily a concern as cats can experience stomach upsets for various reasons. Just clean your cat up and monitor it for a while. If the cat is acting normally, it was an isolated incident.

If diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, your cat won’t be getting the nutrients it needs from food. It’s also at risk of dehydration, so you need to ensure that your cat drinks water.

Dirty or Wrong Litter

If your cat has lost interest in cleaning its bum, check its litter box for issues.

Look for signs that the tray is dirty. Litter boxes should be cleaned at least once a day. Most cats will reject a soiled litter box as it makes them vulnerable to predators in the wild. This instinctual behavior applies to house cats.

If your cat is reluctant to use its litter box, consider whether the litter is appropriate. If you’ve recently changed the brand or type, the new scent or texture may be to blame as cats dislike change.

Your cat will be keen to get in and out quickly, so it’ll be reluctant to groom afterward.

do cats clean themselves after pooping?

Swollen Anal Glands

Problems with a cat’s anal glands can cause issues with cleaning. A bacterial infection or an abscess can cause swollen glands. This creates a blockage, making it difficult for a cat to pass waste.

Consequently, feces will become trapped in the fur. As the cat’s already in pain, it’ll be reluctant to clean itself. The problem will continue, and your cat’s bottom will remain dirty until the anal glands are expressed.

The longer the issue lasts, the more reluctant your cat will be to clean its bum. It’ll associate the anus with physical discomfort, avoiding it entirely. A cat’s anal glands can be expressed at home or by a vet.

Intestinal Worms

Worms are common in cats, affecting up to 45% of the feline population. Worms will leave the cat with an itchy anus, and it may be unable to clean its bottom properly.

Signs that your cat has intestinal worms include:

  • Scooting on the ground to relieve itching
  • Inexplicable weight loss, especially if the cat’s appetite has grown
  • Stomach bloating
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Small, rice-like white flecks in the stool

Sometimes, you may even see a worm hanging out of a cat’s bottom. Don’t pull on the worm as it may be wrapped around a vital organ and could cause damage.

Feline Cognitive Dysfunction

Senior cats may start to experience cognitive decline.

According to Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, many cats aged 11+ will start to show symptoms of feline cognitive dysfunction. By the age of 15, the condition becomes ever more likely.

One of the warning signs of cognitive decline in cats is a lack of grooming. The cat will stop taking care of its fur, leaving it looking greasy and clumpy, including the fur around the bottom. The cat may also start to eliminate outside the litter box because it can’t make it in time or forgets where to go.

You can’t cure cognitive decline in cats. Instead, you’ll need to make certain lifestyle modifications and clean up your cat’s bum regularly.

If your cat’s not cleaning its bottom, don’t ignore the behavior or assume the cat is lazy. Clean up your cat’s dirty bottom and discuss the best way to proceed with a veterinarian.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

3 thoughts on “Cat Not Cleaning Bum Properly – What Should I Do?”

  1. How to clean cats butt. She is to fat to do it. I try to keep it clean but impossible because she is mean. Sometimes she will let hold a warm wet cloth on butt for a minute but than leaves or bites. She is so sore I am sure it hurts. What can I do.

  2. My cat is in the same situation. It’s very hard to hold him in the bathroom sink to clean him so I’m going to buy a pet shaver and try that. You have to be very careful because their skin is very sensitive to nicks.


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