Cats and grooming: Helping your cat look and feel her best

by Sojos | April 04, 2013

Cats have a reputation for being low- or even no-maintenance when it comes to keeping clean. It’s true that they’re a fastidious species, but grooming is something that most cat owners will have to think about at some point in their pets’ lives.  As an added benefit, grooming can help keep your cat’s shedding under control, cutting down on the amount of cat hair you need to deal with in your home.

How often and what kind of grooming you need to do will depend on a number of factors, from age to the type of coat she has. Elderly cats might be more careless about grooming themselves, so it’s important to lend a gentle helping hand. But long before that, it’s a good idea to get your cat used to grooming – that means touching her ears, nails, tummy, legs and paws often enough that she becomes comfortable with it. Don’t use force or make the cat feel trapped – the more positive the experience, the better your future grooming sessions will go.

* Brush up: Feeding a high-quality raw cat food like Sojos will go a long way in fostering a healthy coat, but brushing will also help. A long-haired cat will logically need more brushing than the average shorthair. Make sure you brush out tangles and knots gently and brush in the direction of your cat’s coat to make sure you don’t irritate her skin. A brush with metal teeth will get through just about anything, and for shorthaired cats, a rubber curry brush will help sweep away any hairs that are loose. Keep brushing sessions gentle and brief to keep your cat happy - some cats even come to enjoy being brushed!

* Bath time: Cats frequently “bathe” themselves by licking, but sometimes they’ll get into a mess and need a bath. There’s no doubt that bathing a cat can be quite a handful, so enlisting help from a second person can be a good idea, when possible. You might also want to dress in clothing that will protect you from scratches. Make sure you have everything you need – shampoo, a hand sprayer or a plastic cup or pitcher for rinsing and towel out, and ready to go so that it’s as short a process as possible. Avoid getting water in your cat’s eyes, ears and nose.

* Nail care: Owners who choose not to declaw their cats are doing their pets a big favor, but with that choice often comes the need to maintain a cat’s claws. Some owners choose soft silicone claw covers, while others choose to trim the cat’s claws. In either case, regular maintenance is a necessity. Getting your cat used to the feeling of you touching her paws is important. Before you attempt trimming or any other nail care, touch her paws casually from time to time, squeezing very gently to expose the claw. At first she might only let you do this with one claw, but if you do it regularly, it can make an enormous difference in the cat’s comfort level. Once she lets you handle her paws, trim carefully, avoiding the pink quick – the blood supply – that’s visible when the claw is exposed, or follow the directions that come with claw covers.

Grooming sessions are a great time to take stock of your cat’s outward indications of health – check for lumps, fleas, hot spots and ear mites as your brush, bathe and trim. After it’s all done, give your cat a reward for her patience (and to hopefully leave her with a happy memory) with a little catnip.

Setting the stage for successful grooming is important. Take it slow with each cat in your household right from the start and you’ll make the task easier for years to come.