Why is My Cat Behaving Weird After Grooming?

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  • Post last modified:December 8, 2021
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Your cat’s behavior has changed following their grooming appointment, whether that was a haircut, bath, or nail trimming.

This behavioral change could be for many reasons. They could be scared, relieved, or simply sensitive in the areas where their hair was cut. Why your cat’s behaviors changed depends on what type of grooming your cat received, their grooming environment, and what kind of cat you have. 

Read on to learn what may be affecting your cat’s behavior and how you can help them in the future. 

Why Your Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Haircut

If your cat is acting strangely after its haircut, there could be a few different reasons for that. Monitor your cat’s behavior and document any symptoms or unusual behavior to narrow down the root cause. 

Of course, if your cat’s behavior persists, always consult with your vet to make sure your pet is healthy and safe. 

Here are 3 reasons your cat’s behavior may have changed after their recent haircut.

Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Haircut

Your Long-Haired Cat Received a Drastic Haircut and Feels Relieved

Not all behavior changes are negative. There’s a good chance that your cat is acting differently because they’ve just received a fantastic haircut, and they’re feeling light and free. 

Long-haired cats often get matted fur that can weigh them down. After a haircut, getting used to that weight being lifted off them takes some time. 

If your cat seems to have more energy than usual or be craving more playtime, this is probably why. 

The Haircut Revealed Sensitive Areas of Your Cat’s Skin

Long, matted fur can lead to eczema or other sensitive skin issues if the hair is left ungroomed for too long. Itchy, irritated skin makes your cat scratch and over-groom the area, which leads to raw, damaged areas on the skin. 

After a haircut, these inflamed areas on their skin are revealed, which can irritate these areas more in the short term. If your cat is scratching or seems sore in certain red areas, this is a possible cause.

Your Cat Was Stressed or Scared by The Groomer

In some unfortunate situations, cats can have traumatic experiences with their groomers. If your cat is showing trauma responses like hiding or losing appetite since they’ve gotten home from their appointment, this could be the case.

Changes in your cat’s environment, loud noises, or painful experiences can create trauma in your cat. If this is the case, you’ll need to work with your cat, your vet, and potentially a cat behavioral expert to help desensitize your cat to the groomer and keep them calm and happy. 

Common symptoms of trauma in cats include:

  • Hiding for seemingly no reason
  • Aggressiveness
  • Increased neediness
  • Increased fearfulness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Destructive behavior

Why Your Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Nail Trimming Appointment

If you’ve ever tried to clip your cat’s nails, you know it doesn’t always go as planned. If your cat’s behavior has changed recently after getting a nail trimming, here are 3 possible reasons. 

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Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Nail Trimming
Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Nail Trimming

Your Cat’s Nails Were Cut Too Short

Just like with humans, nails that have been cut too short are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. 

If your cat is walking strangely or seems to have discomfort in one of its paws, check for remnants of blood or discoloration. When a cat’s nail is cut too short, called cutting the quick, the cat will bleed. 

Fortunately, this isn’t a dangerous or life-threatening problem for your cat, and they will be fine in a few days. 

It’s important to remember that accidents do happen, especially with unpredictable animals, and it’s likely not the groomer’s fault. Consult them or your vet if you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior.

Your Cat Isn’t Used to Nail Trimmings

If this is the first time your cat has had their nails trimmed, or it’s been a long time since their last appointment, it can be a stressful experience for them. 

From the car ride to the loud grooming salon to being held by strangers, all of these are scary experiences for a cat new to grooming. 

If your cat seems stressed after their first appointment, they will get better over time, as long as you actively work to make the experience as pleasant as possible for them.

Your Cat Isn’t Used to Short Nails

Is your cat slipping off of furniture or falling off their cat perches? 

Cats use their claws to grip and scratch. When the length changes, they need time to get used to the way they need to grip with their shortened claws. After all, cats have been using their claws to cat preys.

After a little trial and error, they’ll be pros in no time! 


Why Your Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Bath

Cats have a stereotype for hating water for a reason. Baths can be one of the most stressful experiences for cats, especially if baths are a new experience for them. 

If your cat is behaving differently after a bath, here are 3 things that might be the culprit.

Your Cat is Cold

If you’ve ever gotten out of the shower in winter, you know how cold you can get from being wet. Cats are small, and even though they have fur coats, they can get very cold after a bath. This is especially true in kittens who aren’t developed enough to regulate their body temperature yet. 

If your cat is shivering after its bath, make sure to quickly wrap them in a towel to speed up the drying process. Try a blow dryer or heating pad if you want to warm them even quicker. 

Your Cat isn’t Used to Baths

If your cat has never had a bath before, the act of being shampooed and drenched in water can be very scary. 

Before you dive straight into a bath, try to warm your cat up to the idea slowly and only bathe them when they’re at their calmest. 

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Cat’s Behavior Changed After a Bath

The Bath Covered Up Your Cat’s Natural Scent

If you’ve used an especially fragrant shampoo, there’s a chance that your cat doesn’t like the smell, or you’ve disrupted their natural smell. 

Cats use smells to communicate with other cats, especially when they’re claiming their territory. If you’ve ever seen cats run their bodies on your leg or the arm of the couch, it’s one way that they leave their scent.

After a bath, their scent may feel off to your cat, which can cause stress until the fragrance wears off. 


Five Tips to Make Your Cat Comfortable with Grooming

To prevent stress and behavior issues in the future, the best thing is to make your cat comfortable with the grooming process. Here are 5 easy ways to make grooming your cat a breeze.

Start Your Cat Early

The earlier your cat can start grooming appointments, the better. If you can start your cat on regular nail clippings and grooming when they’re young, the appointments will be less stressful as they get older. 

Groom Regularly

Once you’ve started to take your cat to the groomers, you need to keep up with a regular grooming schedule. Not only does grooming have many health benefits for your cat, but grooming will become part of their natural routine. 

Pick a Groomer That You (and Your Cat) Trusts

Your cat groomer will have a major effect on whether or not the situation is stressful for your cat. Speak with your groomer before you drop your cat off to get to know them, their experience, and their personalities

If you’re not comfortable with them, speak with other groomers until you find one that’s the right fit for you and your furry friend. 

Groom Your Cat at Home

Between grooming appointments, trimming your cat’s nails, and brushing their fur regularly can help desensitize your cat to the process.

Dedicate time every week to brush your cat. Not only does this help keep their fur clean, but it prevents knots and matted fur, which make grooming appointments even more stressful for your cat. 

Keep Your Cat Calm

If your cat already seems distressed before the grooming appointment, it’s a good idea to speak with your vet. They can help you figure out where their fear stems from and create a plan to help your cat overcome this fear.

In some cases, your vet can also prescribe medications that will help keep your cat calm and make the grooming process less traumatizing for them. 


Should You Be Worried About Your Cat’s Behavior After Grooming?

If your cat’s behavior has changed after their grooming appointment, there’s no need to worry. Cats are natural groomers, so being groomed by other people, especially strangers who aren’t their beloved owners, can be a scary change.

If your cat’s behavior changes persist, there may be a different underlying health issue. If that’s the case, consult your vet immediately.