Cats are often regarded as fairly low maintenance pets, with their independent personality and reputation as fastidious groomers. Many require little day-to-day input from their owners to lead a healthy, happy lifestyle.
But believe it or not, there are actually many benefits to adopting a regular grooming a regime for your feline, from a healthier, shinier coat and improved muscle tone to a reduced chance of developing hairballs. What’s more, getting to know your cat better through regular grooming will help you to stay on top of any health problems, which is particularly important as your cat gets older.
While some cats will inevitably be more willing to indulge in weekly pampering sessions than others, introducing a regime from a young age will ensure grooming becomes an enjoyable, stress-free experience for both you and your pet. With this in mind, here’s our complete guide to caring for your cat’s coat and claws.
Cat Fur Care
Despite their natural talent for grooming fur, all cats, even short-haired breeds, could use a helping hand when it comes to keeping their coat in top condition. Matted fur and hairballs can easily be avoided with regular brushing, and as most cats tend to shed fur throughout the year, by helping remove any excess hair, you’ll improve the health of your feline and hopefully cut down on the amount of time spent vacuuming floors and furniture.
How to groom short-haired cats
How often: Once a week
Recommended tools: A fine-toothed comb, bristle brush or soft rubber brush
Run a fine-toothed comb through your cat’s coat from head to tail, being sure to always brush in the direction of the fur to avoid any discomfort. Concentrate on one section at a time to remove any dead hair, dirt and debris, and take extra caution when brushing around the face and belly as the skin is particularly delicate. Remove any additional loose fur with a bristle brush or soft rubber brush to finish.
How to groom long-haired cats
How often: Every 1-3 days, depending on the length and condition of coat
Recommended tools: A wide-toothed comb, mat-splitter, bristle brush or wire brush
Starting with the legs and abdomen and working your way up to the face, use a wide-toothed comb to remove any debris which may have become tangled in your cats fur and separate any knots. Part the tail down the middle and gently comb through the fur on each side. Any mats in the fur can often be separated by hand with the help of a little talcum powder, however if you’re struggling to untangle stubborn knots, try separating the fur using a mat-splitter. Finally, brush through the fur with a wire brush or bristle brush to remove any loose hairs.
How to bathe your cat
Can you give a cat a bath? Cats shouldn’t need bathing regularly, especially cats with short hair, unless they require medicated baths to treat allergies or are particularly dirty. However, the occasional bath can prove beneficial for long-haired cat breeds and can help keep their coat in good condition.
- When it comes to bath time, it pays to be prepared. Run a shallow, lukewarm bath in your bath tub or washbasin and have a towel and your cat-friendly shampoo at the ready.
- It’s also a good idea to brush your cat’s coat thoroughly to get rid of any knots before bathing, as they may become more tangled as you lather up your feline’s fur.
- Gently lower your cat into the water and wet the fur with a hand-held hose or jug, taking care not to pour water over the face.
- Starting with the neck and working back to the tail, gently massage the shampoo into the fur before rinsing thoroughly.
- Finally, wipe over your cat’s face with a washcloth or damp cotton wool before wrapping them in a towel and drying them off in a warm place.
Things to look out for while grooming your cat
Fleas, ticks and other parasites
A healthy coat should have a natural shine and bounce, and there shouldn’t be any bald patches. Thinning hair and black specks of dried blood could indicate a flea problem, while red and irritated patches of skin could be a sign of ticks, so be sure to visit your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Visit the Trupanion parasite page for more information on common parasites and how to protect your pet.
Signs of allergies
Excessive scratching, licking and chewing of the skin, redness and inflammation, or dry, flaky skin could all be signs of a skin allergy. Reactions are commonly caused by certain foods, seasonal changes, or by allergens such as mold, grass or pollen. If you believe your cat may be suffering from an allergy, it’s important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the cause.
Abnormal lumps or swellings
Cats can develop a variety of benign and malignant skin growths, particularly as they get older. If you come across any unusual lumps, it’s important to pay a visit to your veterinarian so they can conduct all necessary tests to quickly rule out if they are anything sinister.
Cat Claw Care
Overgrown claws can prove be a real problem for cats, particularly older felines who may be less active and therefore less likely to wear down their claws naturally. Longer, sharper claws can also be prone to catch on soft furnishings around the home, and in more severe cases, can even grow into paw pads if left untreated.
How to clip your cat’s claws
How often: Every 2 weeks
Recommended tools: Cat-friendly clippers or scissors
Before diving straight in with the clippers, it’s important to get your feline accustomed to having their paws handled. Spend some time massaging your cat’s feet each day and pressing the pads on each paw so the claws extend. Your cat may pull their paw away from you to begin with, but start slow and gradually repeat until your cat is comfortable with being handled.
Once you feel your cat is comfortable enough to introduce the clippers, place your feline on your lap, facing away from you. Take one of their paws and press their pad so that their claw extends and trim the hooked white tip of the claw. Take care to avoid the quick – the pink part of the cat’s claw which contains nerves and blood vessels – as this is particularly sensitive and will be painful if damaged.
Repeat for each toe until all the claws are clipped. Remember, you can always clip the claws one at a time over a period of several hours or days if you need to. It’s better to go slowly if your cat becomes nervous or irritable – you don’t want to put them off claw clipping for life!
It’s important to make grooming sessions as enjoyable for your feline as possible, so providing lots of praise and treats for good behavior is a must. If you find your cat is reluctant to take part in regular grooming or claw clipping, or has a coat which is particularly unmanageable, it may be worth making an appointment with your veterinarian or a professional groomer to help minimize any unnecessary stress for your pet and injuries to yourself!