I have been regularly grooming my cat since he was a kitten. He is very comfortable with the whole process and actually seems to really enjoy it. I think he also looks and feels like a million dollars afterwards!
Having my cat professionally groomed is expensive and I much prefer doing it myself. We get to spend some quality one-on-one time together and, even though he is very good at grooming himself, I love to step in every so often and give him some extra pampering.
Ideally, cats should experience grooming from a young age, while they are still kittens. They'll get used to the sensations quickly and come to accept it as a normal activity.
An adult cat that isn't habituated to grooming and develops a mat that needs brushing out can put up a real fuss. I have met cats that become so fearful and aggressive if their owner approaches them with a brush that they need to be tranquillised first. This is an unpleasant trip for that cat to the vet's and an expensive trip for the owner.
The first grooming sessions, whether they are kittens or adults, should be kept short, gentle and fun. You need to build trust and grooming should be a positive and enjoyable experience. While you are brushing them you can even give them a few treats to build up a positive association.
Pick a time to brush your cat when they are relaxed, such as after eating or exercising.
In cat colonies grooming is a mutual activity, so don't be surprised if your cat tries to groom you back!
A Cat's Tongue i.e. A Cat's Brush
A cat's tongue is covered in tiny spines that act like a rubber brush as they lick themselves, removing dirt and hair.
Although most cats will keep themselves clean there are a number of good reasons why owners should also regularly groom them.
The Many Benefits To Grooming Your Cat
A professional groomer is expensive and by doing it yourself you'll save many pennies.
A grooming session provides social interaction and some one-on-one bonding time.
While you're grooming your cat you are more likely to spot health concerns, such as:
- sore spots,
- fleas or
Brushing your cat will remove hair that was going to either end up on the carpet or potentially as a fur-ball. So, less mess and fewer fur-balls.
Cats, particularly those with long-hair, will occasionally need help with removing mats. These dreads that start to form can pull on the skin and actually feel quite sore.
Occasionally your cat might roll in paint or gum, or get skunked, and need some help freshening up.
Cats, particularly those that are kept indoors, will occasionally need a pedicure as their nails begin to get too long or too sharp.
Brushing your cat is like giving them a kitty massage and it helps improve blood circulation.
Brushing helps remove dirt spread the natural oils throughout you cat's coat.
Brushing your cat's coat will leave it looking shiny and sleek.
Pointed cat breeds, such as Siamese and Burmese, have darker colored tips. The darker color on their nose, ears, tail and feet is due to differences in temperature. Wherever the body is cooler - the bodies extremities - the coat is darker.
How to Groom It Properly: 5 Easy Steps
1. Removing Mats
Mats need to be removed as soon as possible. If left they will continue to incorporate the hair around them, and as they do so they will pinch your cats skin and they can be very painful.
If you find that you are unable to remove your cat's mats or you are unsure if you are doing it right, then always seek the help of a professional groomer or a vet.
Remember, your cats skin is thin and can easily be cut or damaged.
You can buy pet detangling spray, which you can use to saturate the mat with first. Next, using your fingers start to tease the mat out and gently pull it apart. There is also a special grooming tool, known as a mat breaker, that helps split mats for easy removal.
You can then use a wide-toothed comb to remove the mat. Hold the mat at the base, near the skin, and comb the mat out starting at the top. If this doesn't work then the mat will need to be cut out.
Before using scissors or clippers to remove a mat ask a vet tech to show exactly how to do it.
You can use clippers to remove mats and these do an excellent job.
However, the noise may scare some cats and in that case you are better off using scissors. Make sure your scissors have blunt ends and be careful.
Slide your comb in between the mat and their skin, which protects their skin from the scissors, and then cut into the mat.
Now, pull the mat apart a bit more and see if you can brush it out. If not, cut into it again and then see if you can remove it with your fingers or a comb. Keep going, slowly, until the mat is removed.
2. Extreme Care
Go slowly and carefully if using scissors or nail clipper. Always use scissors with blunt ends and ask a professional groomer or vet to show you the proper technique first.
All cats will need brushing, but longer haired cats, cats with thick coats or elderly cats will need brushing more often. A shorthaired cat will need brushing once a week, while a long-haired cat, such as Persian, should be brushed every day to prevent tangles.
Older cats tend to be less meticulous in their self-grooming so you will need to intervene more often. You may also find that your cat sheds more in the spring as they lose their winter coat, and so will need extra brushing sessions.
Short-Haired Cat - Brush your cat, in a head-to-tail direction, with a narrow-toothed comb. Don't forget to roll them over and brush their belly and armpits too. Finally, brush them in the same direction with a slicker brush.
Long-Haired Cat - Use a wide-tooth comb and go against the lay of the fur, towards their head. Make sure you brush their belly and armpits, as these are places prone to dreading.
Then use a bristle or slicker brush and brush their coat in the same direction, against they lay of the hair. Finally, comb them in a head-to-tail direction and smooth their coat back down.
It is not seasonal temperature changes that cause a cat to shed, but rather changes in ambient light.
The more exposure to natural light, the more shedding takes place.
If a cat spends all their time outdoors then the longer hours of sunlight in spring will activate the shedding process.
Cats spend their time partially outdoors will most likely start shedding in early summer.
Cats who are kept indoors, and are exposed to a constant level of light, will shed lightly throughout the year.
4. Nail Trimming
Outdoors cats should not need their claws clipping but it is likely that indoor cats, even though they have a scratching post, will still need their front claws clipped on occasion.
The less active a cat, the more often they will need their nails trimmed. Elderly cats may also need their back claws clipping, so please check them regularly to make sure they have not grown around and into the pad, which can be very painful.
When trimming their claws make sure you only cut the clear part of the nail. Do not cut the pink part, this is the quick and it will be very painful and bleed if you cut through this.
If the nails are dark you can shine a torch light through them so that you can see the quick. Build your confidence up and just concentrate on taking the sharp points off, you don't need to remove huge amounts.
With regular brushing it is unlikely that your cat will need a bath, especially if they are indoor cats. Too many baths can actually cause their coat to lose essential natural oils.
However, there may be situations that arise, such as a muddy coat, they've rolled in something stinky or their coat is looking greasy, where you think to yourself... bath-time!
Sometimes a medicated bath is also necessary due to skin problems or parasite infestations.
Before you give your cat a bath, brush them and trim their nails. Water can make mats harder to brush out, and the nail trimming is more for your safety.
How To Give A Cat A Bath
Your cat should already be brushed and their claws should be trimmed.
Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and a long-sleeved t-shirt. If you think your cat is going to put up a struggle to ask someone to assist you, and make sure they are also wearing protective clothing.
Have everything ready before you bring your cat in:
1. Get some towels and your cat-friendly shampoo.
2. Put a non-slip mat in the bottom of the sink and fill it with warm water to a depth of 4 inches.
3. Get a plastic cup that you can use to scoop water onto your cat, as well as a bucket of warm water that you can use for rinsing the shampoo off.
Now get your cat.
4. You may want to put cotton balls in your cat's ear so that water doesn't run into them.
Hold your cat gently but firmly and place them in the water. Hold them with their back towards you so that pointy teeth and sharp claws are facing away from you, just in case they panic.
Use the plastic cup and gently scoop water over their body. Talk to them softly as you do so.
5. Next, apply the shampoo and take great care not to get it in their eyes or ears.
6. Fully rinse the shampoo off using the plastic cup and the bucket of warm water you had prepared.
Any shampoo left behind may irritate their skin or dull their coat.
7. Remove your cat from the sink and wrap them up in the towel. Don't rub longhaired cats with the towel as this may cause knots to form. Keep your cat in a warm room and they should be dry in an hour or two.
Give them a treat for being so good!
Cat Bath Notes
- 1 quart (1L) 3% hydrogen peroxide,
- 1/4 cup (55 g) baking soda and
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) liquid dish soap.
For de-skunking bathe cat and rub solution into their coat. Rinse off and then discard any remaining solution (a chemical reaction creates oxygen, which could lead to a closed container exploding).
Tar & Paint:
Saturate affected areas with vegetable oil, soak for 24 hours, and then bathe.
Hold ice over the gum and once it's cold see if you can slide if off, otherwise clip the hair.