Grooming your Cat
Grooming your Cat
Although cats spend a large portion of their waking hours licking themselves grooming your cat is essential to keep her happy, healthy and clean. Some senior cats and long haired breeds can not keep their coats in good condition by themselves and need grooming to stay in good shape. Grooming is also one of the best ways to bond with your cat. It builds trust and affection and if you have a kitten grooming can be the ideal way to get her used to being touched and handled.
Why is grooming good for my cat?
Grooming your cat includes brushing, bathing, clipping her coat, cleaning her ears, brushing her teeth and clipping her claws. Regular brushing gives your cat a healthy skin and coat as it controls shedding (moulting), stimulates the circulation, prevents hairballs and distributes natural oils. Grooming also allows you to monitor your cat's health by checking for cuts, swelling, lameness, lumps and parasites like fleas and ticks.
How often should I groom my cat?
How often you groom your cat depends on her breed, age and health. If you have a senior cat or a cat with a medical condition she may not be up to grooming herself and will rely on you to keep her coat clean and tidy. Long haired cats that enjoy hunting and playing outside will need additional grooming to clear caked on mud and bits of twig.
Different breeds, different needs
All cats shed (moult) – even hairless cat breeds like the Sphynx shed dander (dandruff/dried skin) and need regular maintenance to feel their best.
- Double Coated Cats – Cats such as the Russian Blue and Manx shed seasonally (or year-round) as they have double coats: a top coat and an undercoat. The top coat protects the cat by repelling water, sun, and thorns. The undercoat is composed of downy hair. Double coated cats benefit from regular brushing.
- Single Coated Cats - Singled coated cats, like the Siamese and Korat shed very little and have fine, short, smooth hair. However gentle brushing is necessary when they are shedding (moulting).
- Hypo-allergenic Cats - Shedding can cause problems for some owners with allergies and certain breeds that shed very little are the hairless Sphynx and Donskoy and the curly coated Cornish Rex and Devon Rex which have very short and fine hair.
- Long Haired Cats - Long haired cats (such as the Persian and Angora) need grooming on a daily basis. Their long, thick, luxurious coats can grow up to 6 inches in length and they have an extremely dense soft undercoat that mats easily. We highly recommend professional grooming for long haired cats. If their coat becomes tangled and matted it can harm your cat's health. Water trapped underneath the mats can cause infection and hot spots. Cats can also pull off clumps and mats, tearing their own skin. Severe matting (sometimes called felting) needs to be treated by a professional groomer as you could cut your cat's skin whilst trying to remove it.
- Short Haired Cats – Cats with short hair (such as the British Shorthair and Abyssinian) may not grooming as often as their long haired cousins they need regular brushing to stay sleek and dirt free.
How do I groom my cat?
Cats enjoy being groomed so don't be surprised if your cat begins to purr whilst you are brushing her coat! Firstly prepare a grooming area. This should be a table with a non-slip surface at a height that is comfortable for you both. Some owners prefer to groom their cats on their laps. Assemble all the grooming equipment you will need so that it is easy to hand.
Grooming Check List
- Combs, brushes, grooming glove, clippers and scissors
- Cat shampoo, sprays and grooming powders
- Claw clippers
- Cat toothpaste and toothbrush
- Cat towel
- Cat treats
If your cat is not used to being groomed keep the first sessions short and keep her as relaxed as possible. Praise, stroke and reassure her to build her confidence and reward her with a treat once grooming is done.
Brush her very gently in the direction that her coat grows. As you brush examine her for burrs, seeds and thorns and remove any that you find as they can irritate and cause infections. If her coat is matted always hold the base of the mat as you comb it through to avoid pulling at her skin. If you need to cut the mat out, avoid cutting your cat by keeping your hand between the scissors and the skin.
If you notice tiny black specks on your cat's skin whilst you are grooming her this is a sign that she has fleas.
If your cat has sore spots, itchy skin, or a notably dull coat check with your vet in case this is a sign of an underlying illness. If your cat has a clean bill of health you could consider changing her diet. There are several cat foods available that improve your cat's skin and coat and if these symptoms are due to an allergy you can also find cat foods for 'sensitive' cats.
How do I bath my cat?
Generally it's not necessary to bath your cat unless she is very dirty or she is a show cat. Many cats do not like water and find a bath a frightening and traumatic experience.
- Always close the bathroom door when you are bathing your cat to prevent her escaping if she does decide to take off. Prepare the bathroom by removing all items that could be damaged by water or knocked on to the floor. Before you bath your cat brush her thoroughly to remove mats and tangles. Talk to your cat with a relaxed voice to keep her as calm as possible and do not make any quick movements.
- Fill the bath or sink with a couple of inches of luke warm water. Lift your cat into the water and wet her coat with a spray (if she does not like the noise use a jug). Hold your cat firmly because she will probably protest and struggle. Once your cat is wet apply cat shampoo and gently massage. Depending on her coat's condition you can use shampoos that are designed to improve shine or cure dandruff. Rinse thoroughly to remove all residues.
- After her bath you can squeeze excess water from her coat and blot her dry with a towel. If you prefer to use a hair dryer make sure you accustom her to it before using. Don't let her go outside in cool or cold weather until she is completely dry.
Checking my cat's ears, teeth and claws
Checking your cat's ears, teeth and claws should be part of your regular grooming routine.
Tooth Brushing – It is possible with a little patience to train your cat to have their teeth brushed. An estimated 70% of cats over 3 years of age develop dental problems. Brushing your cat's teeth stops bad breath, removes plaque and tartar, prevents gum disease and stimulates blood flow to the gums. Only use cat toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Ear Cleaning– Your cat's ears are very delicate and sensitive but they must be cleaned to prevent the build-up of wax and the growth of bacteria, fungus, and yeast, as these can lead to infection and itching. Never use cotton buds to clean your cat's ears. Cleansers, drops and wipes are the safest method.
Claw Clipping – If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors her claws will naturally be worn down however if your cat is an indoor-only cat or a senior cat you may need to have their claws trimmed every few weeks. A cat's claws are living tissue with a blood filled vein (a quick). If you clip your cat's claws too close to the quick this can hurt them and cause bleeding. Understandably owners can be nervous of clipping their own cat's claws. If you have not clipped your cat's claws before we recommend that you contact a professional groomer who can either clip them for you or show you how.
Benefits of Professional Cat Grooming
Professional Groomers are skilled experts who have the experience and equipment to safely groom cats of all sizes, ages and breeds. They are also trained to spot potential health risks before they become major complications, giving you peace of mind that your cat is in the best hands.
Their services can include:
- Trouble free claw clipping – invaluable for cats who hate having their feet touched and claws trimmed. Professional Groomers have the equipment needed to ensure safe and comfortable claw clipping for your cat.
- Coat clipping, trimming, scissoring and brushing – long haired cats in particular benefit from a professional groomer's specialist training and knowledge.
- Bathing - a professional groomer will be able to apply the most suitable products for your cat's coat and protect your cat's skin.
- Coat and skin examination – inspection of your cat for cuts, thorns and punctures. When detecting these they will apply antiseptic solutions to avoid an infection.
- Skin condition analysis - a professional groomer will be able to apply the most suitable products to protect your cat's skin.
- Detection of parasites - a professional cat groomer will also be able to easily tell if your cat has fleas or mites.
- Detection of health issues - professional groomers are familiar with cat anatomy and will notify you of abnormalities such as lumps, skin discolouration, rashes, skin lesions, bald patches, gum discolouration or bleeding.
- Other services - ear cleaning and tooth brushing.