One of the first signs a cat isn’t feeling well is often his coat quality. Whether he isn’t grooming because of arthritis, his diet is not complete and balanced, or he is suffering from any of a variety of diseases—including allergies, hyperthyroidism, or primary seborrhea (a rare inherited skin condition)—coat quality can be an important indicator of health.

Coat length can make it more difficult for the cat to groom away excessive grease. If this happens, a veterinary visit is in order. In some cases, referral to a veterinary dermatologist will be necessary. If the greasiness is due to a specific disease that is identified, treatment will usually be focused on addressing that disease. In the interim, you may have to assist the cat with grooming duties until the problem is resolved. n