Yes–you can groom your cat! Though the idea may seem crazy and an uphill battle for some, all pets deserve to be pampered to look and feel like the beloved member of the family they are. Most cats naturally groom themselves frequently, but as tidy as they may keep themselves, they may need a little help now and then. Here are a few grooming tips and suggestions to help you keep your cat looking its best.
If possible, begin grooming your cat when they are young as it may feel more natural for kittens to be handled and groomed. If you have an older cat, take time to get them used to being touched and held so that they can be more relaxed during grooming sessions. It is important to be mindful of your cat’s mood. We recommend grooming your pet when they are calm and sleepy as a grooming session can cause them to get grumpy or stressed.
At first, your cat may be impatient and dislike all the attention. Keep your first sessions short, maybe for just a few minutes of holding their paws, rubbing their ears, or lightly brushing their coat. You can gradually lengthen the time in later sessions. Praise your pet with love and treats if they behave well during grooming.
If you notice your pet becoming upset, take a break and try again later. We also recommend asking someone to help you with bath time and nail trimmings.
Carefully Examine Your Cat’s Coat
A healthy coat has naturally glossy hair. Short-haired cats should be brushed weekly, while long-haired cats may need at least 2-3 brushing sessions throughout the week to avoid matting and the possibility of hairballs. If your cat is agitated during the process, take a break.
The brush should be designed for cat fur and removing excess hair from the coat. Always be careful around your cat’s face, belly, and chest.
While you are brushing, pay attention to the quality of the coat. Check their skin for areas of redness, dryness, scabs, fleas, and ticks. Many health conditions such as allergies also manifest on the skin. The gentlest way to groom your cat is to start at the feet, part the hair down the middle and brush each side carefully.
Check the Ears
Inspect the ears and ear canals for any signs of discharge and redness as you groom your cat. If you wish to clean your pet’s ears, you will need cotton pads or balls, a veterinary-approved ear cleaner, and a towel.
Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based cleaners as they can dry out the ear canal and cause irritation. Do not use Q-Tips or anything with a pointed tip to clean your pet’s ears as you may damage the ear canal and cause other health problems for your pet.
It is generally easier for you to position your pet with his or her backside facing you. Gently pull on the ear flap and fill the canal with an approved-veterinarian ear cleaning solution. Do not stick the applicator into the ear canal or allow it to touch your pet’s ear as it may spread bacteria. Massage the base of the ear for at least 30 seconds to help the solution work its way in. You will hear a squishing sound as the product dislodges debris and buildup.
Allow your pet to shake his or her head and expel the solution. Use the cotton ball or towel to absorb any remaining solution on the outer part of the ear canal. Repeat until the cotton pad is clean.
Not all pets need their ears cleaned, be sure to check with your veterinarian before cleaning their ears.
Trimming Your Cat’s Nails
Unless your cat is outdoors or a serial scratcher, most cats will have overgrown nails that may catch onto clothing, rugs, or fabric and lead to injury. Perhaps the trickiest part of cat grooming is nail care and trimming. Most cats will run at the mere sight of clippers. It is important to get your pet used to you holding their paws, this may take a few weeks before you are able to clip their nails.
Once you are ready, use a cat nail clipper and gently push down and extend each paw to keep the claws from retracting.
Cut or file the nail straight across in small increments. Your goal is to trim the bottom end of the claw only. Don’t go beyond the natural curve of the nail. Go slowly and take breaks between each paw or nail, especially if your pet is restless. We recommend giving treats and praise after each nail, so your pet associates the action with positive energy.
Bathing Your Cat
This may not be necessary and in some cases can be a daunting task as cats and water do not typically mix well. However, it can be done, and if your cat is in need of a bath, we are here to help.
Fill the sink or tub with shallow warm water, using a cup, slowly pour water over your cat avoiding the face and head. Using a cat-safe shampoo, start at the neck and begin to lather the body. Pour the clean water over the suds and make sure the residue is removed. Dry your cat thoroughly once done.
Some cats may not tolerate water, so dry shampoo may be a good alternative.
Remember throughout the grooming process to reward constantly with treats, catnip, and toys to make the experience more pleasant so they associate grooming as a positive experience. For more information on cat grooming and how we can help or to schedule an appointment, contact New Hope Animal Hospital today.