Some the things cats are known for are their relaxed demeanor, their unpredictable nature, and their obsession for grooming. If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably seen first-hand how much time they spend cleaning themselves—primarily by licking!
Adult cats spend about 50 percent of their waking hours grooming their furry bodies. Yep, cats are neat freaks!
As much as it may seem that cats have it all figured out in the cleanliness department, they can still benefit from a little help from their human friends. How, you ask? Read on as we discuss why grooming your cat is important and give you a rundown of the tools you’ll need to get started.
How Do I Start Grooming My Cat?
Cats love grooming themselves, but many hate it when somebody else does it for them! If you’ve groomed them since they were kittens, then they probably tolerate it fine. But grooming older cats that aren’t used to it is a different story.
When you groom your cat, don’t just grab him and start brushing or trimming away, especially if his their first time. The experience can be traumatic for him and you may walk away with battle scars from the struggle! Start slow and get him accustomed to the process.
Keep his first grooming session short. Five to ten minutes should be enough to give him a positive and pleasant experience. Also, it’s best to do it when he’s relaxed; maybe after he’s exercised or eaten so that you reduce the chance that he’ll run away or scratch you.
The Five Essential Tools
Now that your cat is well-adjusted to the grooming process, let’s talk about the tools you’ll need to actually do it. Before we get into details, remember that investing in high-quality products that are made from durable and safe materials will serve you best in the long run.
- Brush and Comb
When you think about grooming, brushing is probably the first thing that comes to mind. It’s the most fundamental aspect of grooming. With cats, brushing keeps their hair neat and clean. Brushing also gives you the chance to inspect them for any injury or abnormality; it also helps to keep them from forming hairballs.
Additionally, brushing is a great way to bond with your cat. Start by slowly massaging them, going from the neck all the way down to the tail. Follow this up with a gentle stroke of the brush down their whole coat.
Generally, you should brush your cat one to three times a week. Longhair cats like Persians require more grooming than shorthair varieties like British Shorthair cats, of course. Very old cats also need extra grooming help, as they can’t twist around as easily to self-groom.
When it comes to choosing the right brush, get the type most appropriate to your cat’s particular coat. For long-haired cats, we recommend a brush with long plastic bristles and beaded tips. For short-haired cats, the same type of brush applies, except with shorter bristles.
Among the brushes and combs that you need are a slicker brush, a flea comb, a mat splitter, de-shedding tools, and rubber grooming gloves. Be sure to add them all to your shopping list!
Teeth brushing can sometimes be an overlooked grooming routine for cats. As funny as it may seem, brushing your cat’s teeth is crucial when it comes to her overall health. Just like with humans, your cat’s teeth accumulate plaque that can turn into tartar if not taken care of.
Your cat’s breath isn’t always going to smell like a bouquet of gardenias. However, if it smells different than the common slightly fishy odor, your cat is probably suffering from dental problems. You shouldn’t ignore this symptom, especially if you haven’t gone to the vet to check the condition of her teeth.
To start the teeth brushing routine, you should begin by conditioning your cat to having her mouth touched. Try to include this as a part of your normal training regimen and give her treats and other rewards as encouragement.
If you have a kitten, it’s best to start with a rubber finger brush instead of bare fingers to get into its teeth and remove plaque buildup.
For adult cats, look for a toothbrush with a bent handle for easier gripping and a three-sided superfine bristle to get into and in between their teeth.
- Claw Clippers
Your cat’s claws are an integral tool they use to navigate the world. Cats are digitigrade walkers, meaning they walk on their tiptoes instead of the heels and balls of their feet. Their claws are there to support their weight at all times, whether they’re walking, jumping, or just standing around.
With that in mind, you should never declaw your cat. Your cat’s claws can be annoying and destructive and even painful sometimes. However, instead of thinking about declawing her, you should consider clipping or trimming her claws instead.
Clipping shouldn’t be too stressful. Start by holding her toes. Then, apply slight pressure to unsheathe her claws. While doing this, give your cat treats so she associates this with a reward.
It’s vital to start slow. To understand what a safe length to clip her claws down to is, consult your vet for the best way to cut your cat’s claws.
You’ll be able to find the right kind of clippers at your local pet store. They’re the ones that look like scissors or pliers but are shaped so they can be inserted into the claws of your cat. As an alternative, you can use normal nail clippers. Just make sure they’re clean and sharp so that the process is painless and smooth.
- Bathing tools
One way cats clean themselves is by licking their fur. However, licking isn’t always about grooming. They use their tongues to scrape off dirt, comb their hair, and lick their kittens and humans to show comfort and affection.
Your pet should be familiar with the grooming tools and routines above before you get to bathing. The first time isn’t always going to go smoothly; it’s best if his claws are clipped and his fur brushed before you splash him with water.
In choosing the right shampoo, consult with your vet to find out what formula and ingredients are right for your cat. Coat types vary for every cat breed, which is something you’ll need to consider when buying shampoo.
Never use human shampoo as it can dry out and irritate your cat’s skin. The same goes for dog shampoo as well because they contain ingredients only suitable for dogs. Finally, don’t forget to use a blow dryer after bath time!
Cats are meticulous creatures when it comes to grooming. However, they can’t reach everything! That’s why sometimes they need their humans to help fix things for them. After brushing and clipping, use pet wipes to help clean your cat. Pet wipes are great for getting in between toes and ears and all over their faces and bottoms.
Pet wipes are a lifesaver when it comes to grooming your cats. They don’t replace bathing entirely, but they can be a great alternative. They wipe off the dirt from their fur, making them cleaner and more elegant-looking.
Make sure to get pet wipes that are hypoallergenic. Check that the brand you’re buying doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients such as parabens and chlorine.
Why is Cat Grooming Important?
You probably know where hairballs come from, but do you know how harmful they can be?
Your cat’s tongue has tiny serrations that act as a natural comb that cleans and evens out their fur. These serrations also catch loose hair that they end up swallowing, which was what causes the formation of hairballs. Brushing can help prevent this problem and also saves your feline friend some trouble in keeping her beloved fur clean and tidy.
Every routine we’ve discussed should be approached carefully and with caution. Groom different things at different times; don’t try to cram it all in at once. Start slowly, keep it comfortable, and gradually increase the time and frequency of each grooming routine.
While cats are dextrous creatures, factors such as health, weight, and age may complicate their ability to groom themselves. That’s why you’re there—the responsible, loving human that helps them stay clean, healthy, and classy!