how to unmat cat fur at home
Cat Health and Wellness

Why Does My Cat’s Fur Look Greasy and Clumpy?

We can tell a lot about a cat’s mental and physical condition by their fur. So, it will become immediately obvious when your cat’s fur looks greasy and clumpy. All will not be well in an indoor or outdoor pet cat that allows their fur to become unclean.

Why does my cat’s fur look greasy and clumpy? A feline failing to groom themselves is usually due to a physical limitation. Overweight or arthritic cats, in particular, struggle to contort themselves sufficiently for grooming. There are other medical conditions that lead to oily fur, however. Feline diabetes and hyperthyroidism are often linked to a listless, clumpy coat. Cat allergies can also result in dandruff-like symptoms.

We will explore the different reasons for greasy and clumpy fur in cats, and how to treat them. Whether the problem is medical or psychological, your pet needs assistance with their problem. A cat will never allow their fur to become unkempt without something being wrong.

Causes of Greasy and Clumpy Fur in Cats

There will always be an explanation for greasy and clumpy fur in cats. No feline will ever choose to be unclean. If they find themselves in such condition, there will be a reason for it.

In many cases, greasy fur is a physical issue. If your cat is unable to groom themselves, their fur will suffer. Human hair becomes greasy and unmanageable if left unwashed, and cat fur is no different.

Remember that we also frequently handle our cats. Every time we pick up or stroke our pets, we leave oils on their fur. If your cat cannot clean these off, they will become visible.

The most common physical ailments that prevent cats from grooming themselves include:

  • Obesity. Fat cats lack the dexterity necessary to clean those difficult-to-reach spots.
  • Arthritis. As your cat grows older, your cat’s joints become increasingly painful.
  • Dental Pain. If your cat is having teeth problems, they’ll be reluctant to use their mouths.

However, there could be a medical explanation for your cat’s greasy fur. It’s worth having your pet checked by a vet if you cannot find a physical reason. Various tests may be necessary.

Some of the medical complaints that lead to greasy and clumpy fur include:

  • Allergies and skin conditions. Allergies can wreak havoc upon a pet’s fur and skin.
  • Hyperthyroidism. Older cats sometimes struggle with an overactive thyroid, and greasy fur is a common symptom.
  • Diabetes. Often linked to obesity, feline diabetes impacts upon a cat’s fur.
  • Poor diet. If your cat is not receiving appropriate nutrition, their fur will suffer.
  • Depression. A depressed cat will be withdrawn and lethargic, losing all interest in grooming.

Let’s take a look at each of these scenarios in more detail.

1) Obesity

An overweight cat will always struggle to reach certain parts of their body. Grooming requires a degree of flexibility. A substantial belly prevents your cat from bending in all necessary directions.

Carrying additional weight will also likely have a severe impact on your cat’s stamina. Grooming, and maintaining a clean coat, can be a real cardio workout for a feline. If your cat is too tubby to do so comfortably, they may give up.

An overweight cat failing to groom can be a serious concern. Greasy and clumpy fur is concerning enough. However, an overweight cat will also struggle to clean their anal glands and urinary tract glands. This can leave them open to aggressive viral infections.

If your cat carries excessive weight, and it’s impacting their ability to groom, see a vet. Getting your pet on a weight-loss regime is vital. They’ll be glad that you did, in the longer term.

2) Arthritis

Like obesity, arthritis can have a severe impact on your cat’s ability to groom. Arthritis makes the process risky. Your cat could inflict severe pain, or even permanent damage, upon themselves.

The problem with this is that some old cats abandon grooming altogether. As arthritis impacts most felines over the age of 12, this could include your pet.

cat pulling clumps of fur out with its teeth

Has your senior cat shown a gradually decreased interest in grooming, as well as moving? If this is the case, they are more than likely have a joint condition, such as stiff back legs.

Although arthritis cannot be cured, the condition can be managed. A combination of lifestyle changes, medication and supplements can control the issue.

As a result, your cat will become more flexible,  and resume grooming. This will improve your cat’s mental disposition no end.

3) Dental Pain

If your cat is living with dental pain, they’ll be reluctant to do anything with their mouths. That will mean that grooming is out of the question, in addition to eating and drinking. Dental issues must be rectified ASAP, as they have a significant impact on quality of life.

If your cat has stopped grooming and you can’t tell why, check their teeth. If your cat doesn’t let you near their mouth, that could be your answer. Other vital signs of dental pain are cats constantly drooling, or pawing at their face.

If your cat has dental problems, their fur will not be the only thing to suffer. Your pet will likely refuse to eat, which is highly dangerous. Of course, they will also be in chronic pain.

Prevention is better than cure what it comes to cat tooth issues. Brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week. Have a dentist give them a once-over at least once a year, too.

4) Allergies

If your cat has an allergy, it will likely affect their skin. Hives and hotspots are very common sights in feline allergic reactions. What is also highly likely, however, is seborrhea.

This condition often manifests itself as a reaction to an unwelcome food of substance. The result will be clumpy, matted fur and what looks like dandruff on your cat’s skin.

Seborrhea should not be allowed to take hold. Once it does so, it can difficult to shake off and will dry out your pet’s skin. This, in turn, leads to listless and clumpy fur.

If you suspect that your cat has a skin issue, see a vet. It may be related to an even more severe medical complaint, or a parasitic infection.

Even if your cat is ‘only’ living with seborrhea, treatment will still be necessary. This will most likely take the form of a prescription shampoo, and a renewed grooming routine.

5) Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid is a complaint that tends to affect senior cats. As International Cat Care explains, this condition has very distinct symptoms.

In addition to a greasy, unsightly coat, your cat will eat constantly but somehow lose weight. Your pet will also likely drink more water, and pace erratically.

Hyperthyroid is caused by one the cat’s two thyroid glands becoming enlarged. If the condition is captured early, it can be reversed. Your cat will go onto live a normal, happy life. If left untreated, however, hyperthyroidism can have serious implications.

Hyperthyroidism sees your cat burning energy faster than it can be replaced. This is why they’ll eat to excess, but still drop weight. As you can imagine, this will eventually take its toll on their body.

Your cat’s heart will not be able to keep up. It’s essential that your cat receives professional treatment for their condition.

6) Diabetes

Loss of interest in grooming, alongside refusing to eat, is an early sign of feline diabetes. Of course, these symptoms could easily be attributed to other ailments too. If your cat is also drinking excessively, diabetes immediately becomes more likely.

There is no hard and fast rule as to how feline diabetes can be avoided. Although it’s commonly linked with obesity, not all overweight cats will become diabetic.

Likewise, not all diabetic cats are overweight. Sometimes, the condition is genetic. In other instances, it’s just misfortune that befalls a particular pet.

A formal diagnosis is essential, and requires various tests. Once these have been completed, your vet will advise the next steps. Most cats with diabetes still enjoy a fine prognosis and quality of life.

Capturing the disease early helps with this though, so pay attention to greasy fur. If your cat’s unkempt look is matched with other symptoms, professional advice is highly advisable.

7) Poor Diet

Another reason to watch your cat’s diet, and food intake, is their nutrition. It is essential that a cat receives all the nutrients and protein they need from their food. This means that a high-quality diet, tailored to your cat’s time of life, is essential.

Cats can be notoriously fussy about food. A professional will draw you up a feeding plan, and recommend particular brands of food. Senior cats have very different nutritional needs to juniors, so it always helps to receive advice.

Above all, however, check the ingredients of whatever you feed your cat. The food should contain quality protein, and very little filler. The correct diet goes a long way to keeping cats happy and healthy. A shabby fur coat that lacks gloss is the first warning sign of low-quality nutrition.

Why is my cat's fur greasy looking?

8) Depression

A change in routine can spark this reaction, especially if a cat feels ignored or neglected. One of the most common explanations, however, is a death in the family. As Petful explains, cats mourn the loss of feline companions and cherished humans alike.

Feline depression does not involve the same chemical imbalance as the human condition. It does, however, manifest in many of the same ways. A depressed feline will withdraw from all interaction, and lose interest in basic activities. This could include eating, interacting, and grooming.

If your cat has lost interest in keeping themselves clean, they need help. Interact with your pet, and ensure they have plenty of stimulation. Get them into a strict routine, too. If this doesn’t help, see a vet. A depressed cat that refuses to groom

How to Clean a Cat’s Greasy Fur

Greasy fur is not an ailment in itself. It will always be a result, or side effect or medical condition. This means that you’ll need to treat the cause and not the symptom.

You should treat your cat’s fur any way that you can. If your cat is struggling to groom themselves, lend a hand. Spend at least thirty minutes every day brushing their fur with a wide-toothed comb. Give your cat clean with baby wipes at least once a day.

If necessary, get them into the kitchen sink for a bath. Speak to your vet as to whether a specialist feline shampoo is required. If your cat’s poor quality coat is a result of skin damage, this may be the case. You could use dry shampoo if your pet is entirely water-averse.

Check your cat’s lifestyle. Get them into a strict exercise routine, if necessary. Check their food, and ensure that they are obtaining enough nutrition. Consider supplements, or even massage, to ease any aching and arthritic joints.

If your cat has greasy, clumpy fur, it’s not a red-alert emergency. It happens. It does, however, suggest that something isn’t quite right in your pet’s world.

No happy, healthy cat that’s able to groom themselves will neglect to do so. If your cat has lost pride in their appearance, there will be a reason.

Watch your cat in the first instance. If they’re attempting to groom, but are unable to due to logistical issues, take action. This could mean a diet and enhanced exercise, or arthritis treatment – it depends upon the circumstances.

If your cat seems otherwise healthy, however, speak to a vet. Something will be amiss in your pet’s world, and tests will be required. Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin treatment. From there, you can restore your cat’s health – and by extension, vitality to their fur.