Ever tried to groom your finicky feline pal? It’s not easy. Cats have always been self-cleaning machines, and it’s something they’re happy to do without human intervention. But times have changed––in today’s world of pampered pets, more and more kitties are finding themselves being bathed, brushed, and clipped to the hilt by their human companions.
If the word “feisty” comes to mind when you think of your cat, do not despair—here are some tips for getting the job done:
Regular brushing minimizes shedding, stimulates skin, and promotes a healthy coat for your cat; it’s also the best way to prevent the formation of dangerous hair mats. As you brush, check your cat’s eyes, ears, skin, and teeth–cats are stoic when it comes to pain, so doing a quick and routine body inspection will alert you to any poor health issues your cat may be experiencing.
For many, brushing a cat is easier said than done. Arden Moore, author of 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Cat, suggests coaxing a dubious kitty by calling him invitingly and rewarding him with a treat when he approaches. Next, stroke and brush him gently, using a soft-bristled brush. Start at the tip of the fur and work deeper into the coat. Comb in the direction the fur grows, as going against the grain may irritate sensitive skin.
If your cat is fearful start with gentle rubs or a scratch behind the ear, and always remember to reward your kitty for his patience. In extenuating circumstances a cat may need his fur trimmed, otherwise a weekly brushing should do it (long-haired cats do best with daily brushing).
Should you bathe your cat? Not necessarily. Felines are very good self-groomers and rarely need baths; however, there are exceptions (such as with older cats and ones with medical problems who may not be adept at keeping themselves clean, or if your cat gets into something sticky or gross).
Bathing does not have to be uncomfortable or stressful. Make the job easier by using a rubber mat and sprayer–the mat will keep kitty from slipping, and the sprayer is quieter than a normal faucet and allows for better control of the water. Hold your cat by the scruff (the skin behind the neck) to maintain control while you wash. With warm water, gently work the shampoo into the fur. Rinse thoroughly–leftover shampoo can cause skin irritation.
“You can desensitize an animal to the experience by taking your time and by being thoughtful to what the cat is experiencing,” says Jay Andors, a professional groomer and owner of HydroSurge in New York City.
A cat that’s older, anxious, or has severe mats in their fur may benefit from professional grooming. Look for a facility that is clean and well-lit, and that has a knowledgeable staff with experience in feline hygiene.
When it comes to cats, long nails are not a fashion statement. Overgrown claws make walking difficult and pose a hazard as they can easily get caught on curtains, blankets, or carpet. Trim your cat’s nails every four to six weeks, distracting her with talk or treats while you do so. If you are unsure about the best way to trim, ask your veterinarian to show you how before trying it yourself.
We don’t recommend declawing, which removes the first bone in the paw and is very painful for your cat. A scratching post is a kinder alternative, and cats can be trained to use them.
Have any cat grooming tips you want to add? Share them in the comments!