What happens when the cat doesn’t clean himself after a litter box break? Why isn't he taking care of his backside?
Sometimes, Kitty has gained weight and, until she loses a couple of pounds, isn’t as limber as she once was. Of course, a diet is called for, but in the meantime, Kitty will need help. Another cause might be arthritis. Kitty just can’t contort herself into a pretzel like she used to. Ask the vet about glucosamine or another remedy.
Kitty can also need a helping hand if she’s been ill and had diarrhea. That will leave a mess in all the fur, not to mention, mat up and trap subsequent output if it’s not taken care of promptly.
All in all, Kitty can be a smelly mess.
It’s Mama Cat’s job to keep the kittens clean until they are old enough to do the job themselves. In the absence of motivation, ability or good health, humans have to help out as needed. Prevention starts with a good quality food. Cheap food with uncertain ingredients like meal or by-products can upset a cat’s digestive system. Check the ingredients list on any diet or low calorie foods Kitty’s eating. Low calorie foods often use fillers that make Kitty feel full but produce more waste. Don’t let Kitty outdoors to hunt. A mouse or bird is not part of his usual diet, and can cause all kinds of stomach upsets that you don’t want to deal with.
A damp paper towel can clean up simple messes. Be sure to use a good quality towel. Cheap paper towels will leave “lint” which only adds to the problem. After wiping with a damp towel, do a follow-up clean with another and dry with a final towel. KKH, a TCS forum member, tried a cat bath wipe but her cat didn't like it. The scent may have been the problem. AlphaCat, another TCS member, used butter in an emergency. She softened the butter, let it melt on her fingers and then smeared it on Sam’s butt. To make sure sure he didn't smear butter on the furniture, Sam was sequestered in the laundry room for about half an hour. “I remembered the old wives' tale about putting butter on a cat’s paws after you move into a new house. Once Kitty has licked it off, he’ll remember the next time. I thought it might work for grooming himself and it did.”
For more difficult messes, try sitting Kitty in warm water to loosen any clogged areas. He will not like this part so expect some (a lot) resistance. If you can remove the worst of the mess, then it’s time for a haircut.
If Kitty is long-haired, clip Kitty’s hair on his butt to give waste a clean exit. For dark-haired cats, a closer cut might be needed. Use blunt nosed scissors to start. Most cats won’t want the vibration of clippers on their behinds.
You might find red splotches where the hair matted and pulled, leaving irritation. To keep Kitty from scooting on the carpet—it will itch as the area heals—or from inappropriate licking, an anti-biotic cream from the vet will help. Kitty may have to wear the dreaded cone so he’ll stay away from the area until it’s healed. Don’t use human medication since Kitty may find a way to lick and ingest it.
Once everything is back to normal, periodically check Kitty’s backside to make sure there’s no problem. When his hair starts to grow out again, clip it short and keep it that way. A few of Kitty’s favorite treats after the hair cut will keep you in his good graces. His clean behind will keep him in yours.