Cats may be very efficient self-groomers but no matter how young or old they are, they also need a little help with their beauty routine to keep their fur fabulous and their toenails trimmed. Grooming should never be considered a chore; consider it quality time with additional benefits as cats that enjoy being brushed and petted are more likely to be sociable and enjoy interacting with everyone in the household.
Getting a Routine Going
You can never start too young! While young kittens do not shed, they will still enjoy being brushed with a very soft brush (even a baby’s brush) and benefit from the interaction. It’s also a really good idea to play with them by touching their paws and splaying their toes and gently massaging their paw pads. All this will stand you in good stead for when they are older and need regular manicures. The same can be said for petting their ears and gently touching their lips and tickling them under the chin. You are simply paving the way for when you may have to administer medication.
Even if you have adopted an older cat, the same touch-and feel routine applies. Older cats that may not have experienced much hands-on attention may take a little longer to come around. But ultimately all cats enjoy a brushing with a massage-type brush known as a curry brush. It’s a good idea to dispense treats when you start and also when you end the session so that your favorite feline learns to associate these sessions with a yummy bonus!
The Right Grooming Spot
Ideally, it’s a good idea to place a towel on a flat surface like a kitchen counter for your regular grooming sessions. The towel will give your cat a grip on the situation instead of sliding around on a tiled or granite surface. However, the best place to groom will be the place your cat selects! That could be in her favorite pet bed, on the carpet, even on your lap. You will have more success in what you can get done if your cat is in charge of the location.
Similarly, its important to let you cat dictate what happens in a grooming session. They will leave when they have had enough. So, take it slow. Instead of trying to clean her ears, trim her nails and brush her all in one session, break it up and handle different elements on different days. Simply consider it quality time you spend together.
Getting a Routine Going
How often you brush your cat will depend a lot on whether she has long or short hair. Ideally, a longhaired cat should be brushed daily to ensure the hair doesn’t mat, which it can do quickly.
The secret to successful grooming is to ensure that you have the right grooming tools. It’s worth investing in good quality products.
Feline groomer Adrienne Kawamura who owns City Kitty, all-feline grooming spa in Edmond, Washington likes to recommend a seven-inch stainless steel comb for longhaired cats.
“Brushes tend to split and break long hair,” she says. “When brushing, place your hand just in front of the area you’re working on and use short, quick upward strokes, so that you are lifting and not pulling.”
A rubber comb with long teeth also known as a curry brush is great for removing loose hair and giving a nice massage at the same time. It works well on all feline fur.
Dealing with Matted Fur
If you are going to attempt to cut out a clump of fur, it’s important to use blunt-nosed scissors and do it in stages starting from the top of the matt. Never try and attempt to cut close to the skin. Cats have very delicate skin and with a bad matt, it’s easily to accidentally slice into the skin and cause serious bleeding. In fact, it’s a good idea to seek professional help with matted fur. Once the situation has been remedied, regular grooming at home can prevent it from happening again.
It’s important to invest in a pair of good stainless steel pet nail trimmers. Human nail cutters can split the nail and cause more issues. Be sure to cut only the end of the nail and not the “pink part”, which is the blood supply. Rather trim a little at a time and more often. And again, if you cannot manage all four paws in one session, don’t worry. The best way to trim nails is to wrap you cat in a towel exposing only one paw at a time. This technique known as the Kitty Burrito will give you control over the situation!
To Bath or Not To Bath
Most cats that do not aspire to being show cats are not keen on being bathed. In fact, many get really stressed when put in the tub and it can cause their blood pressure to spike. But there are alternatives such as waterless shampoos and especially formulated feline wipes, which will remove any dust and dander from the fur effectively and without fuss.
A dental cleaning is considered part of a normal grooming routine at a professional cat groomer. Again, this is not something that most cats will tolerate. There are finger gloves and special tuna-flavored pastes that make the job easier.
However, according to Dr. Jan Bellows, a board certified veterinary dentist with a practice in Weston, Florida, dipping a Q-tip in tuna juice and rubbing is across the teeth and gums is equally effective as it’s the movement along the teeth that helps to prevent a tartar build-up. There are also additives that can be added to the water bowl if regular brushing is too stressful. That’s why an annual professional cleaning at the vet’s office is a good idea too.
Whatever part of the grooming routine you are doing, be sure to have your feline’s favorite treats close at hand and reward before and after. Such bribery will ensure you get the job done!
TOOL BOX BASICS
A cheap and inexpensive slicker brush for removing tangles, dead hair and debris while distributing healthy coat oils.
A selection of brushes with nylon bristles to give coat a smooth silky look.
A fine short-tooth comb to gently remove any matted hair and for removing hair from the slicker brush.
De-shedding tool to help keep the undercoat thinned without cutting the hair.
Fine flea comb for removing both fleas and eggs and for gently grooming facial areas.
Hair-grabbing mitt – removes loose hair and gives a nice massage at the same time
Rubber comb with large teeth also known as a curry brush that magnetically lifts loose fur and massages the natural oils through the coat.
Nail cutters – pet specific ones are best for cutting efficiently and not tearing the nail.
Even if you prefer to shop on line, it’s a good idea to get the feel of a particular grooming tool and see if its right for you and your cat by handling it in a store environment.
A Quick Guide
For shorthaired cats, your basic tool kit should include a nylon bristle brush to give the coat a smooth silky look; a rubber curry brush that looks like a comb with large rubber teeth that magnetically lifts fur and massages and a flea comb. Also consider a fine short-toothed comb to gently remove any matted hair and for removing hair from the slicker brush.
For longhaired breeds, double-sided wire and bristle brushes are useful for general grooming. Consider a slicker brush for removing tangles, dead hair and debris. They also help to distribute healthy coat oils all over the body. A wide-toothed comb helps long hair to remain matt-and tangle-free and a de-shedding comb will keep the undercoat thinned without cutting the hair.