While cats notoriously take care of some of their own grooming, help from their humans can go a long way in maintaining the health and beauty of your kitty. Of course, not all cats will tolerate grooming. In these instances, seek out professional help from a groomer or veterinarian, and do not attempt grooming the cat yourself. For the more tolerant felines, however, these ten tips and tricks will help keep them looking and feeling great.
Brushing your kitty is a great way to remove dead hair and dirt, as well as to remove and further prevent tangles. To start, brush your cat for 5-10 minutes when he is already relatively subdued so as to not upset him. Always go with the natural direction of the hair. Be gentle around the chest and underbelly as these are more sensitive areas.
2. Brushing Subtleties
Optimal brushing techniques will vary based on your cat’s hair type and specific needs. Generally, for short-haired cats, start with a fine-toothed metal comb and then move to a bristle or soft rubber brush. For long-haired cats, start with a wide-toothed comb and be careful when untangling any knots. Finally, use a wire or bristle brush to remove dead hair and skin.
3. Bathing Basics
Bathing a cat is something that most owners wouldn’t dare do, and wisely so in some cases. There are some kitties that just won’t tolerate being bathed. Fortunately, cats don’t need bathing often. If their self-grooming is not sufficient and their coat becomes overly sticky and dirty. These tips will help you avoid a disaster if you do need to bathe your cat.
4. Cat Bath Done Right
To reduce the risk of upsetting your cat and injuring him or yourself, follow these basic steps:
- Use WARM water, not cold or hot.
- Only 3-4 inches deep in a tub with a bath mat.
- Use a cat-specific shampoo.
- Gently wet your cat, avoiding his head at all cost. Do not spray your cat down or dump water on him.
- Starting at the head, gently work shampoo through his hair down to his tail.
- Rinse gently, taking care to not spray his head.
5. Nail Care
If your cat will allow you to bathe him, clipping his nails should be a breeze. To start, familiarize your kitty with having his feet handled by massaging and petting them whenever you are handling him. Once he is comfortable with this, use a cat-specific pair of clippers to trim his nails and only clip off the white tip of the nail. Be extremely cautious as to avoid the quick, which generally has a pinkish color and holds blood and nerves.
6. Ear Cleaning
Before cleaning your cat’s ears check them for any indications of infection or sensitivity. Your cat’s ear canals should be pale pink, without excess debris or odor. In addition, earwax should be minimal. Don’t attempt to clean his ears if you see excess debris or smell an odor, and bring him into the veterinarian for an exam immediately. As long as the ears look alright, place a small amount of cat-specific ear cleaning solution on a piece of gauze or a cotton ball and gently remove wax from the ear. Avoid probing into the canal as this can hurt your kitty and cause infection.
7. Kitty Dental
Tolerant cats will allow you to inspect and clean their teeth. Work slowly and be gentle. To begin, face your cat and gently lift his gums on either side. Check for abnormal sensitivity as well as inflamed gums and any excess odor coming from his mouth. Any of these signs are ample reason for a trip to the vet. If your cat will allow it, use a feline-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to gently brush his teeth and gums.
8. 20/20 Feline Eye Care
Performing regular checks on your cat’s eyes is a great way to ensure he is healthy and still has his vision. To check the eyes, gently roll down your kitty’s eyelid with your thumb and take a look at the lining and eyeball. The lining should be pink, not red or white. The eyeball should be white and pupils equal in size. If you see anything abnormal, a trip to the vet is in order.
9 & 10. Patience & Practice
This article saved the most important kitty grooming tips for last. These are: Have patience, and of course Practice Makes Perfect. As you know, cats are feisty animals and 90% of the work in grooming them is getting them to allow you to handle their bodies in the ways you need to. Always remember not to push it if your cat isn’t in the mood and be sure to gradually build up to handling him in these ways. Have fun, and be careful!