Cats certainly know their own minds when it comes to their eating, sleeping and grooming schedules.
They are fastidious groomers and can often be found cleaning and preening themselves. But don’t be fooled into thinking that there is nothing you can do to help your cat stay in tip-top condition. There’s plenty they need our help with.
Grooming is a great way of giving your cat some of that attention we all know they love and crave (and which, let’s be honest, we love too), whilst monitoring their health and condition at the same time.
Grooming your cat can help prevent health issues such as digestive problems caused by hairballs from the self grooming process and can also help to prevent matting of their fur. It could also help you to catch any skin conditions or parasites (ticks or fleas) early on in their development and nip the problem in the bud, as well as any eye or ear ailments. Spotting them early means you can have them treated early, and prevent more serious problems developing.
How often you need to groom your cat is dependent on, firstly, their fur type and, secondly, the time of year it is. It can be a difficult task to start with, especially if you have not groomed your cat before, but this shouldn’t put you off starting. Take it slow and steady to begin with, by taking five to ten minutes to show your cat some attention, and slowly integrate the various tools you may need (dependent on your cat’s fur type), into the routine.
If your cat has short hair, it may only require fur maintenance once a week. A long-haired cat, on the other hand, may require brushing or combing two or three times a week if they are indoor cats, and every day if they are allowed outside. This will change when it comes time for your cat to shed its fur in Spring and Autumn. You will need to increase your efforts and brush or comb your cat daily to ensure that they do not have matted fur or a buildup of hairballs.
Beyond the basics of brushing your cat’s fur, it is recommended by vets that you thoroughly check over your cat’s body, looking for lumps or sensitive areas roughly twice weekly. Also, carefully clean your cat’s ears with cotton wool and a small amount of olive oil to remove any dirt or debris that will likely have built up, every couple of weeks or so. Remove any discharge from your cat’s eyes with cotton wool lightly dipped in water as and when required.
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Getting started with Brushing
If you have a short-haired cat, you will require the following;
- A fine-toothed metal comb
- Natural bristle or rubber brush
Moving from head to tail, and ensuring you follow the direction in which the hair grows, run the fine toothed comb through your cats fur. All the while, you should be looking for fine black flecks that may appear, as this could indicate the early stages of fleas. To finish, you should do the same with the natural bristle or rubber brush to remove any loose hair.
If you have a long haired cat you will require the following;
- A wide-toothed metal comb
- Wire bristle brush
- Fine-toothed metal comb
- Small flea comb or a toothbrush
Start by running your fingers through your cats hair, as this will give you a good indication of whether there are any tangles or any other problems. Then, take a wide-toothed comb and carefully untangle any knotted fur, remembering to take extra care over your cat’s sensitive areas under the legs, across their stomach and under their tail. Next, you should take the wire bristle brush and go over your cat’s fur to remove any loose fur, always remembering to work from head to tail, and follow this with the fine-toothed metal comb. To finish, you can gently brush the hair on your cat’s face with a small flea comb or a toothbrush, avoiding the cat’s eyes.
If your cat’s fur is starting to matt, it is recommended that you don’t try to cut it out yourself, but take your cat to your vet, as they will be able to remove the matts in a safer manner.
Cats are notorious for not being fond of water at all, but in some circumstances it may be necessary for you to bathe your cat. These may include if your cat is covered in more dirt than usual, its coat has come into contact with a harmful substance or substances, your cat is unwell and unable to groom itself as it normally would, to help remove the allergens your cat sheds or if you are taking your cat to a show.
Be gentle and only use a shallow sink or tub of water with a non slip rubber mat under your cat, ensuring you do not wet your cats head directly, with a hose or a jug of water. Slowly lather the cat with cat shampoo, designed specifically for their skin and fur, and rinse thoroughly ensuring you remove all of the product from their fur.
It can take some time to prepare your cat for pedicures. Start by slowly running your fingers down your cats legs and pressing your thumb into the pad of your cat’s foot to get them used to having a daily foot massage. Once they are comfortable with this you can use some cat clippers to remove the white tip of the claw parallel with the flat of the claw, ensuring you don’t cut the quick (the pink part you can see through the translucent claw).
Grooming your cat is a lovely perk of cat ownership and can improve your bond with your cat. Even though they are very independent animals your cat still needs your help to ensure they are healthy and happy. Regular grooming will reduce the chances of your cat needing the attention of a vet, and give them a long and happy life.