Cat Grooming

Cat Grooming 101 – The Basics of Grooming Your Cat

 

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by Lorie Huston, DVM on August 24, 2013

Today, we’re going to talk about grooming your cat. All cats need grooming on a regular basis although I will admit that some cats do take care of some (but not all) of their grooming needs themselves.

We’ve talked about the basics of grooming your dog previously. However, grooming your cat will be a bit different than grooming your dog. So here’s what you need to know about grooming your cat.

*Most cats need to be brushed on a regular basis. Brushing removes dead hair from the hair coat. It also prevents your cat’s hair from becoming clumped and matted, especially for those cats with long fur. Matting and clumping of the fur may be more of a problem for some cats than for others but it’s something you always want to avoid. Brushing also helps distribute the natural oils produced by the skin throughout the haircoat and keeps your cat’s skin and haircoat healthy and shiny. More importantly, brushing/deshedding is one of the best ways to manage hairballs in cats. If your cat isn’t swallowing as much hair, there won’t be as many hairballs. One of my favorite tools for brushing/deshedding is the Furminator Deshedding Tool.

*Your cat may be bathed, if necessary. Many cats never need to be bathed. Most are fastidious about cleaning themselves. However, there may be situations where bathing becomes necessary. If your cat’s fur becomes dirty or your pet suffers a skin disorder, bathing may be required.

*Cats do not need to be shaved. However, shaving the hair coat can make it easier to care for your cat if you have limited time. You won’t need to spend as much time brushing, deshedding, and dematting your cat. In addition, some people believe that shaving can make your cat more comfortable during warm weather. Others believe that the haircoat acts to trap the cooler hair next to the skin and keep your cat cooler. I’m not sure we have sufficient evidence at this time to support one view or another. My best advice is to do what works best for your cat. If your cat seems more comfortable during the summer when shaved, I see nothing wrong with doing so. Be aware though that there may some relatively uncommon situations where the haircoat does not grow back quickly or it may not grow back normally after shaving.

*Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed to an appropriate length is mandatory. Failing to do so risks the nails becoming ingrown and causing pain and infection for your cat. Check your cat’s nails at least once weekly to see if they need trimming. This is important for all cats but particularly for cats with extra toes (polydactyl cats). Teaching your cat to allow you to handle his feet from an early age will make nail care easier for all parties concerned.

*Your cat’s ears need regular attention too. Just as people tend to accumulate waxy debris in their ears, your cat can develop the same type of debris. Clean the ear canals as needed with a mild ear cleansing solution and cotton balls. Do not use Q-tips or other cotton-tipped applicators to clean the depths of your cat’s ear canals. You can damage the ear drum with these tools. You can purchase a safe ear cleansing solution from your local pet store or check with your veterinarian for a specific recommendation. Check your cat’s ears for redness, discharge, odor, or any other abnormalities regularly as well. Consult your veterinarian if you notice these things.

*Clean your cat’s eyes as needed. Many cats have a minor discharge from their eyes which may accumulate in the corner of the eyes and even stain the fur. This is more common in some breeds than in others and is particularly prevalent in the short-nosed breeds. Clean your cat’s eyes with warm water and cotton as needed. For those cats with tear stains under their eyes, there are various remedies to help remove the stains and keep the fur clean. Check with your veterinarian for a recommendation. You should also check with your veterinarian if your cat’s eyes seem red and inflamed or if your cat is squinting, rubbing at the eyes, has a particularly heavy discharge from the eyes, or if the discharge is thick and mucous-like.

*Finally, your cat’s teeth need to be addressed as part of your regular grooming procedures also. Oral care is important in keeping your cat healthy. Daily tooth brushing is the gold standard. If your cat will not allow brushing, other alternatives include oral treats such as Greenies Dental Chews. Consult your veterinarian for more advice about oral health care for your cat.

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About Lorie Huston, DVM Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.

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