Tips on how to keep your kitty looking gorgeous and feeling fine
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of responsible cat ownership is grooming. We take it for granted that if kitty looks clean to us, then all must be well. Why fix something that doesn’t appear to be broken? Or so we think. You might be surprised at the things you find once you get your fingers down under all of that fur and start poking around – nice and softly of course. Otherwise, your first cat grooming experience might be your last!
What supplies should I have on hand to properly groom my cat?
Your cat grooming tool options are a wonderful mix of items. Choose the supplies that you think will best fit your cat’s needs as well as their tolerance levels. Your choices include, but aren’t limited to:
- Brushes in numerous shapes, sizes, and tine depths
- Combs with combination tine depths and widths
- Conditioner mists
- Dental finger brushes
- Dental wipes
- Ear wipes
- Electric and battery-operated clippers
- Eye wipes
- Flea combs including electric and ultrasonic versions
- Full-body cleaning towelettes and sprays for allergen removal purposes
- Gloves with “nubs” or “fingers” for hair removal
- Mat-removing brushes and combs
- Mat-removing sprays
- Nail trimmers with safety-stop guards
- Plastic brushes with a “magnetic/static” charge to hold the removed hair
- Post-grooming colognes
- Powder, swabs, and liquids to stop nail bleeding
- Self-cleaning brushes
- Tear-stain remover products
- Vacuum cleaner grooming brush attachments
- Vibrating massage and cleaning brush
What should I do when I groom my cat?
Grooming your cat is often a combination of massaging, brushing, combing, removing mats, nail trimming, and examining the body’s overall condition. You might not be comfortable doing all of these procedures and your cat might not even need all of this work done for each grooming session. Trust your instincts and don’t make your cat endure more than he or she can comfortably tolerate. It’s better to do shorter grooming sessions more often than one long one that severely tests the limits of your cat’s patience, not to mention your own frustration level!
And how often, you’re wondering, should you groom your cat? The consensus seems to be that for longhaired cats, the more the better – perhaps even daily or at least a few times a week. Shorthaired cats can obviously be done less often but they should be checked over at least once a week. Overweight cats often have a hard time reaching every part of their body and therefore need grooming more often in those areas. As a cat’s shedding increases in the early spring, their grooming needs also increase. Be especially vigilant during that time-period.
Begin the grooming process by gently rubbing the cat all over with your hands. You might want to spritz lightly your cat (or your hands) with a cat coat conditioner to minimize the amount of static that will potentially build-up during this process. Let your feline friend slowly relax into being touched.
While you’re directly handling the cat, take the time to look him or her over good. Check for any physical conditions that you might not have been aware of – lumps, bumps, cuts, fleas, raw patches, etc. Make a note of which areas seem sensitive to your cat and watch for any additional negative reactions when working in those areas.
You can then proceed to brushing the front of your cat and work your ways backwards. This is a good calm starting point as most cats like their faces rubbed. Brush in the direction of your cat’s fur and only switch to using a comb when and if the cat seems relaxed. Shorthaired cats might not even require being groomed with a comb, but it’s a necessity for longhaired cats.
When using a comb, always start with one that has widely spaced teeth to prevent pulling on any underlying mats. Slowly try to pull the mats apart and only switch to a comb with narrower spaces between the teeth when you have the mats almost all the way untangled. Try not to resort to using scissors or clippers for mat removal unless it’s necessary and then be extremely careful as cat’s skin is extremely sensitive and can easily be cut.
When you’re done brushing and combing kitty, you can do a quick cleaning of their eyes, ears, and teeth and then finish with a nail trim. Trimming a cat’s nails isn’t as horrible as it sounds. Most have white nails that make the process easier. The above-mentioned nail trimmers have a safety guard to prevent you from making too deep of a cut. If your cat really puts up a struggle when having their nails trimmed, “cat bags” can be purchased that securely aid in confining them while leaving their feet exposed. Such cat “sacks” are quite handy – the hardest part is usually getting the bag on your cat, but it can be done. Save this part for last, as your cat will probably get the most flustered during this procedure.
What else should I know about grooming my cat?
If the cat that you’ve recently added to your family is a young kitten, start developing your grooming habit as soon as possible to make this an easily-accepted part of the cat’s life. If your new cat is older and unused to being groomed, start slowly and be patient.
If you’re uncomfortable with any part of the regular cat-grooming process, ask your vet for a few pointers or consider investing in an appointment with a cat groomer so that you can watch and learn. If you attempt to do things on your own, a few good pointers to remember include talking to your cat in a reassuring tone throughout the session and having some of kitty’s favorite treats on hand for an occasional reward. If all else fails, realize that some cats actually need to be sedated to be groomed. Talk with your veterinarian about this option-of-last-resort.
To minimize the amount of grooming that you need to do, there are a number of “self-grooming” cat items available on the market that are worth looking into. They include wall-mounted corner brushes that your cat can rub against, arched brushes mounted to a base for your cat to walk under, and believe it or not, “shed-control gravies” containing fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that can be added to your cat’s food, as well as dental-cleaning liquids that can be added to your cat’s water dish. Anything that makes a cat owner’s life easier and keeps our furry friends in good condition gets our vote of approval.