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6 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Fur Looks Separated

6 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Fur Looks Separated

My cat’s fur looks separated. What’s going on? Is there something wrong with my cat?

Noticing this change in a cat’s fur can be stressful for its owners. I believe you instantly thought how something bad is happening since your cat usually grooms herself so well.

Yes, this occurrence can happen due to a cat’s decreased ability to groom herself. But, it can also happen because of some environmental factors, and even some things you, perhaps unconsciously, did.

Let’s see some detailed information on the main causes of your cat’s fur looking separated.

1. Excessive Bathing

owner bathing his cat

Cats shouldn’t be bathed often, especially those who live indoors exclusively. You might think that you’re doing your cat a favor, but, if you bathe her too often, you’re actually just making her fur look dull and separated.

PetMD explains how frequent baths are a mistake many owners make with their felines. If your cat is young and healthy, she’s perfectly capable of grooming herself.

You should bathe her only if she has some health problems, for example, if she’s struggling with a flea allergy.

In these situations, you should wash her with a medicated shampoo, prescribed by your veterinarian.

Bear in mind that frequent bathing can strip away the natural oil from your cat’s fur and cause skin irritation and her fur to look bad.

2. Weather Conditions

Gray Scottish cat looks out the window at the rain

You know that feeling when you leave the salon with a fresh haircut, and it’s just started to rain outside? Within a few minutes, your beautiful hairstyle is ruined and looks like you didn’t put any effort into it, and not like you just spent a few hours at a great hairdresser!

Much like the weather can affect our hair, the same thing can happen to a cat’s fur. Humid or chilly weather can influence the way your cat’s coat looks.

Her coat might lose its original shine and become dull and sticky. This doesn’t mean that something is wrong with it; It just looks separated due to bad weather.

3. Obesity

calico maine coon cat lying on carpet in room looking up

Obesity is a big problem with the feline population nowadays. VCA Animal Hospitals points out how almost 60% of domestic cats in North America are overweight.

Malin Öhlund and his associates [1] explain how a cat’s greedy eating behavior and her inactivity are the major factors associated with obesity. 

Of course, not having a healthy body weight is bad for cats in all ways possible. This will also affect their ability of grooming.

A cat that’s overweight will not easily bend down or lean over to reach all parts of her body. This can lead her fur to look separated, unhealthy, and weak.

4. Advanced Age

Cute British short hair cat with light brown fur sitting on a back yard porch.

You’ll notice many changes in your cat’s behavior as she gets older. Her energy level will decrease, she will require fewer play sessions, and might even prefer to be alone most of the time.

Some older cats will also suffer from Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as cat dementia. 

This condition leads to changes in the cat’s ability to learn, remember, and respond to stimuli. Some cats won’t even remember things they encounter every day, like the place of their water bowl or litter box.

An advanced age can also cause a decreased ability for a cat to groom herself. Most felines will also be less flexible and will have problems with mobility. 

This can all lead to their fur looking separated.

5. Stressful Situations

scared gray cat walks on a leash

There are many stress triggers for cats in their environment. Sometimes your cat might seem to be scared of something you can’t even see.

Marta Amat and her associates [2] explain how many things that seem harmless to us can cause our cats to be extremely stressed and anxious, such as some changes in the environment or an inter-cat conflict.

Stressful situations can make cats constantly be on watch, and defend themselves from danger.

This means they will neglect grooming since they’ll feel like they have far more important things to do.

6. Health Problems

Grumpy Maine Coon cat closeup lying on living room red couch in home

Certain health problems can cause your cat’s look to seem different than usual.

These health problems can appear in all breeds, and cats of all ages. If you suspect your cat could have any of the following issues, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Dental Problems

If your cat feels pain in her teeth and mouth, she won’t be able to groom herself as usual, causing her fur to look bad.

The best way to prevent dental issues in felines is to brush their teeth regularly and use cat toothpaste.

It’s also recommended that you take your cat to professional teeth cleaning once a year.

Skin Infections

Cats can also suffer from skin infections that can cause them to lose some of their fur and for it to look separated.

According to PetMD, there are several types of skin infections in cats, such as bacterial and fungal infections, and skin parasites.

Since these issues can cause a cat to excessively lick, chew, and scratch her fur, this can result in fur loss. Additional symptoms that might appear are skin odor, red bumps, and even swelling.

If you notice these changes on your cat’s skin, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Cat allergies might also cause changes in their fur.

The most common allergens for felines are fleas, food allergies, mold, pollen, and dust. Skin symptoms, such as itchiness, hair loss, coughing, and sneezing, are some of the allergy symptoms in cats.

The only way to confirm your cat has an allergy is to take her for allergy testing at the vet clinic. The treatment will most probably include corticosteroids.


If a cat is in a lot of pain, this will also affect her grooming habits. One of the diseases that can make your cat moving around very uncomfortable is arthritis.

This is a common disease in older cats and happens when a cat’s joint surfaces that are normally smooth become uneven and rough. This causes inflammation and pain, and disables a cat from doing her everyday activities. 

Some common signs of arthritis are lethargy, difficulty jumping up to high places, sleeping more, overgrown claws, since the cat will use the scratching post less, and separated fur – since the cat won’t groom herself as she used to do.

Arthritis cannot be cured, but cats with this condition can still live a long life with the help of pain medications, weight management, and joint supplements.


Ginger cat alone at home

I hope you have found your answer to the question: Why my cat’s fur looks separated?

Perhaps you have been overbathing her, or it’s just the bad weather outside. Still, your cat might also be obese, under stress, or even struggling with a health problem that’s preventing her from performing her standard grooming routine.

A separated fur in felines doesn’t sound like a serious problem, and many cat parents might even ignore it.

However, as we have seen, this can be a sign of various health problems in cats. So, I recommend that you still contact your veterinarian, just in case. 

The best idea is always to consult a professional if you have any questions or concerns related to your cat’s health.


[1] Öhlund M, Palmgren M, Holst BS. Overweight in adult cats: a cross-sectional study. Acta Vet Scand. 2018 Jan 19;60(1):5. DOI, Retrieved May 30, 2023.

[2] Amat M, Camps T, Manteca X. Stress in owned cats: behavioural changes and welfare implications. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2016;18(8):577-586. DOI, Retrieved May 30, 2023.

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