When we speak of grooming a cat, most of us think of brushing their fur, and that’s the extent of it. However, cats need more than that to maintain maximum health. Cats also need nail clipping, ear cleaning and teeth brushing. It’s easier than you think. Read on for helpful tips.
Cats should be brushed regularly to remove loose hair and dander. This will help to reduce allergens in the home and keep your cat’s fur looking its best. It can also help to prevent mats and tangles, which can be uncomfortable for cats. On a more serious note, cats that ingest a lot of fur can get sick, and in some cases nutritionally deprived, and in rare cases, require surgery to remove it. If your cat urps up fur logs on a regular basis, it’s time to get-a-groomin’! The good news is, grooming can help to build trust and a bond between cat and owner.
Let’s talk tools! The most effective brush depends on your cat’s coat length. There are many different types of brushes available, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate for your cat’s coat type. See below for our favorites.
To brush your cat’s fur, start by gently petting them. Then, use the brush to brush in the direction of hair growth. Be sure to brush all over your cat’s body, including their stomach and under their legs. It may take several sessions to get to all the parts. Be gentle, though. Never hold your cat too tight if they don’t want to sit still, they can pull away hard enough to get injured. If your cat is resistant to brushing, see below for details on Cooperative Grooming.
If your cat has mats or tangles in their fur, you can use a detangling spray (made for cats) to help loosen them. Be sure to brush the mats out gently to avoid hurting your cat.
Here are my recommendations for various fur types. I have 6 cats of my own, so I have each kind of brush. Using the right brush is more effective and less time consuming.
Cats need their nails trimmed regularly to prevent them from becoming overgrown. Overgrown nails can be uncomfortable for cats and can even cause them to injure themselves. I clip my babies nails every month, because I trim them pretty short. When you’re new at it, you’ll probably cut them a little less due to an abundance of caution, so maybe every 2 weeks. Simply check in a couple of weeks and see if they are sharp again.
To trim your cat’s nails, you will need a pair of cat nail clippers. Be sure to choose a pair that is sharp and has a curved blade.
If you accidentally cut your cat’s quick, apply a styptic powder to the area to stop the bleeding. Chances are that you won’t hit the quick. Most first time parent-groomers only cut the very tippy tips. As you groom more, you’ll learn to do it faster and just close enough, so it doesn’t hurt them, and it’s short enough to not need to do it again too soon.
To trim your cat’s nails, start by lightly holding the cat’s paw, then gently squeeze the pad. The claws move forward and are easy to see. Then, use the nail clippers to trim the tip of the nail. Be careful not to cut too close to the quick, which is the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves.
Great clippers, great price. I bought 4 pairs so I can have them ready in various areas of the house. They are more relaxed if they come to you.
Often overlooked, kitty ears need cleaning from time to time.
A very important note: Human toothpaste is DANGEROUS to cats. Most toothpastes contain xylitol, which is toxic to animals. Never use any amount of human toothpaste on any pets. In fact, clean up your bathroom sink after you brush so your cat doesn’t step in it, and then lick it off their paws.
*Some articles claim differing opinions about xylitol, but the risk of death is too real to gamble when it’s so easy to avoid having any products containing xylitol. Just say no!
Cats should have their teeth brushed regularly to prevent dental disease. Dental disease can cause pain, bad breath, heart disease and even tooth loss, and will shorten a cat’s life. I recommend doing it once a week or at least twice a month. If you start while they are a young age, they may come to enjoy it, then it’s good to do it more often. A little disclaimer here; Really, everyone should brush their teeth daily, but in my experience, it breaks the bond if every time you approach your cat, you come at it every day with some event they really don’t like. That said, I also recommend an annual teeth cleaning, until they reach an age that anesthesia is not advised.
If your cat is older, and never had a tooth brushing, I recommend a vet visit first, to advise if a professional teeth cleaning is necessary. Sometimes after many years of no dental hygiene, the plaque is built up very thick and a simple brushing won’t do the trick.
To brush your cat’s teeth, you will need a finger cot and toothpaste that is made for cats. There are many different brands of cat toothpaste available, so be sure to choose one that your cat will like the taste of. Most videos and how-to articles show an actual toothbrush, which is fine, but for me, I find that a finger cot is easier to maneuver around the mouth, and less likely to cause harm due to slippage, and less likely be seen as a play thing to attack.
To brush your cat’s teeth, start by gently opening their mouth. Then, use the finger cot to brush their teeth in a circular motion. Be sure to brush all of their teeth, including the back teeth. The back teeth especially, since that’s where more gunk gets stuck.
If your cat is not used to having their teeth brushed, you may need to start by brushing them for a few seconds at a time. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing their teeth each day.
Some cats may not enjoy grooming. They may be afraid of the tools used or they may not like being touched in certain areas. This can make grooming a stressful experience for both the cat and the owner. This is where “Cooperative Grooming” comes in. It’s simply a more comforting technique to get your cat used to grooming and not break the bond between you two.
Keep the brush handy at a time when you know the cat might be coming around for lovies or nap time. When the cat is relaxed and getting comforting pets, use one hand to brush followed by the other hand with soft pets. Ignore the mats and tangles until she gets used to the brush.
Cooperative grooming is a training method that can help to make grooming a more positive experience for both you and your cat. It is based on the idea of positive reinforcement, which means rewarding the cat for desired behaviors. This can be done with treats, praise, or petting.
Here are some tips for cooperative grooming:
- Start with short sessions and gradually increase the length of time as your cat becomes more comfortable.
- Use positive reinforcement to reward your cat for good behavior.
- Make grooming a positive experience by being gentle and talking to your cat in a soothing voice.
- If your cat becomes agitated, stop grooming and try again later.
- Choose a quiet, comfortable place to groom your cat.
- Gather all of the supplies you will need, such as a brush, comb, nail clippers, and treats.
- Start by gently petting your cat and talking to them in a soothing voice. Once your cat is relaxed, you can begin to groom them.
- If your cat has long hair, start by brushing it out with a wide-toothed comb. This will help to remove any mats or tangles.
- Once the hair is brushed out, you can use a fine-toothed comb to remove any loose hair.
- Be sure to praise your cat throughout the grooming process. This will help them to associate grooming with positive experiences.
- With patience and consistency, you can teach your cat to enjoy grooming and even look forward to it. Cooperative grooming is a great way to keep your cat healthy and happy.
When Does Kitty Need a Bath?
The truth is, much less often than you might think.
Generally, cats do not need to be bathed. They are very good at grooming themselves and keeping themselves clean.
However, there are some times when it may be necessary to bathe a cat, such as:
Most cats hate baths.
Only give them a bath when truly needed.
- If the cat has gotten into something that has coated its fur and cannot be removed by brushing.
- If the cat has a skin condition that requires medicated shampoo.
- If the cat is elderly or overweight and cannot groom itself as well as it used to.
- If the cat is a long-haired breed and its fur has become matted.
- To remove fleas – but I must urge you to take her/him to the vet for this, and while he’s there, you go home and wash all your bedding.
If you do need to bathe your cat, it is important to do so gently and carefully. Use a mild shampoo that is designed for cats and avoid getting water in the cat’s ears, eyes, or nose. Be sure to rinse the shampoo thoroughly and dry the cat completely afterwards.
Here are some tips for bathing a cat:
- Choose a mild, unscented shampoo that is specifically designed for cats.
- Fill a sink or bathtub with warm water.
- Place a towel on the bottom of the sink or bathtub to prevent the cat from slipping.
- Wet the cat’s fur with warm water.
- Apply a small amount of shampoo to the cat’s fur.
- Work the shampoo into the fur with your hands.
- Rinse the shampoo thoroughly from the cat’s fur.
- Dry the cat with a towel.
If your cat is very stressed or anxious about being bathed, you may want to try using a spray bottle to wet the cat’s fur instead of filling a sink or bathtub. You can also try using a damp washcloth to apply the shampoo and rinse it off.
How to know when he needs professional help
When your fur baby is extra matted, or has fleas or ticks, it’s time for a vet visit. They will shave him in just the trouble spots, or give him a nice all over buzz cut as you request and/or as they recommend. I have 2 long haired cats that get a full body shave at the end of May. One is so unhappy about it, they give her a little anesthesia to get through it. It saves her from grooming herself, which would be tons of urped up furballs, and from me and the dreaded brush. The rest of my cats aren’t so opposed to being regularly brushed.
Many benefits to using a professional groomer for your cat, including:
- Expert grooming skills. Professional groomers have the skills and experience to properly groom your cat, even if they have a long or difficult-to-groom coat. They can also identify and address any potential health problems, such as mats, skin conditions, or ear infections.
- Convenience. Taking your cat to a professional groomer can be a lot more convenient than grooming them yourself, especially if you have a busy schedule. You can drop your cat off and pick them up when they’re finished, and you don’t have to worry about the mess or stress of grooming them yourself.
- Peace of mind. Knowing that your cat is being groomed by a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable can give you peace of mind. You can be sure that your cat is getting the best possible care, and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt or stressed.
- Early detection of health problems. A professional groomer will be able to check your cat for any potential health problems, such as mats, skin conditions, or ear infections. They may also be able to detect other health problems that you may not be able to see, such as heartworms or diabetes.
- Reduced stress for your cat. Some cats do not enjoy being groomed, and they may become stressed or anxious during the process. A professional groomer is experienced in handling cats and can help to make the experience as stress-free as possible.
- A cleaner, healthier cat. Professional groomers use high-quality shampoos and conditioners that will leave your cat’s coat clean, soft, and shiny. They will also trim your cat’s nails and clean their ears, which can help to prevent infections.
If you’re considering using a professional groomer for your cat, be sure to do your research and find a reputable groomer who is experienced in grooming cats. You should also ask about the groomer’s policies on health checks and nail trimming. If you’re not sure whether or not you should use a professional groomer for your cat, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you decide what’s best for your individual cat, and may recommend a groomer.