5 Grooming Tips for Cat Owners

If you think about the things your cat spends the most time doing, you're likely to come up with at least a couple of things - and grooming is probably one of them!

In fact, you may think of cats as "self-cleaning pets." You wouldn't be wrong, either. But "self-cleaning" doesn't mean they couldn't use your help sometimes, particularly with their teeth and nails.

Helping Kitty with grooming has many benefits, including strengthening your bond with each other and getting used to what's normal for him/her. Here are some ways you can help Kitty with his/her grooming:


1- Fur Coat -- You already know cats shed, though not all cats shed at the same rate or at the same time. It's even possible for indoor cats to shed year-round. In fact, did you know that some short haired cats can shed even more than some long-haired ones? It's true - length of fur doesn't necessarily dictate the amount of fur that can be shed. Help prevent drifts of cat fur accumulating in your home's corners and keep Kitty from becoming a matted mess by brushing him/her regularly.

Brushing is probably the easiest and most common grooming help cat owners give their pets. Brushing helps Kitty get rid of loose fur and helps prevent longer fur from matting. Some cats only need to be brushed every week or so, while others need to be brushed daily - you'll discover where on the scale your cat falls as you get to know one another. In addition to removing loose fur, brushing also removes dead skin and dirt, and it stimulates your cat’s blood circulation and distributes healthy oils through Kitty's fur.

Of course, brushing out tangles to prevent mats also helps prevent skin infections that can be common underneath matted fur. All of these things help your cat feel better. Additionally, regular brushing leaves less fur for Kitty to ingest during his/her self-cleaning sessions. Less ingested fur equals fewer hairballs - and everyone likes fewer hairballs! Plus, a good brushing session gives you a chance to make sure Kitty hasn't developed any skin problems or lumps/bumps that a veterinarian might need to see.


2- Paws -- Your kitty's paws spend a lot of time on various surfaces, and they catch him/her while performing acrobatic feats like leaping to (the forbidden) tall tables and countertops. It's important to keep them in top shape.

You can help Kitty put his/her best paw forward by keeping the nails trimmed (see below) and making sure there's no dirt or debris trapped between his/her toes. If you have a long-haired cat, you may need to trim the fur between the toes on a regular basis because it can get tangled, trap dirt, and irritate the sensitive skin between the toes. 

If Kitty got into something and hasn't cleaned his/her own toes, then you can use a damp cloth to wipe them down. Just be sure to use only water or pet-safe soaps. If Kitty will tolerate it, try wiping his/her paw pads every day to keep them clean and get Kitty used to having his/her feet touched regularly.


3 - Claws -- Some cats love a scratching post while others prefer your furniture. No matter which camp yours falls into, your cat probably needs a regular nail trim. 

Be careful, though. If you don't acclimate Kitty both to having her paws manipulated as well as to the sound of the clippers, it's unlikely you'll be successful. This isn't a grooming activity you want to rush into - for either of your sakes.

Instead, wait until Kitty is relaxed. Then, start petting and massaging Kitty's paws. Don't do it for too long - just a few seconds at a time if Kitty is unhappy with the activity. You can build up to longer over time.

At a different time while Kitty is near you (and relaxed), play with the nail clippers in an offhand way. Let the clippers make their “snapping” sound. Don’t do anything with them with your cat. If you're watching tv with one hand on the clippers idly fidgeting with them, you've got the right idea. You’re letting your cat get used to the sound and the object.

Over time, Kitty should become more accustomed to both activities and allow you to combine the two. When you do, you may need to have treats on hand to reward Kitty for good behavior! It's important to remember, though, that this process may take some time and that you may not be able to do more than a couple of claws at a time! Be patient, though. With time and training, you'll be able to trim Kitty's claws.


4- Ears -- Whether Kitty has sleek, short-furred ears or fluffy, tufted ears, some things should be the same for everyone. Healthy kitty ears have a light layer of fur across the back with no bald spots and a pale, pink interior. There should also be no odor, discharge, redness or swelling! 

You can easily help keep them clean with a quick wipe of a damp washcloth or cotton ball. Put some water or liquid ear cleaner (pet friendly!) on the cloth or cotton ball and then gently wipe away any dirt or debris from Kitty's ears - but NOT from the ear canal (leave that part to the professionals). Be careful, though - don't ever insert your finger or any objects into Kitty's ears. They're delicate little radar dishes, and foreign objects could harm them.

Cats can get both ear mites and ear infections which require a veterinary visit for treatment. If your cat has red, inflamed ears, paws at them a lot, doesn’t want you to touch them, or otherwise seems like the ears are a concern, you should make an appointment with his doctor


5- Teeth -- If you've only ever seen your cat's teeth when s/he opens his/her mouth to yawn, you're not alone. However, it's important to check Kitty's teeth periodically to make sure they're staying healthy and clean. After all (as you've probably read in other blogs), healthy teeth and gums are essential for a healthy pet, and there are two things you can do: (1) check Kitty's teeth and gums for problems and (2) brush Kitty's teeth regularly.

First thing's first. During your regular grooming sessions with Kitty, try to work in a check of his/her teeth and gums. If Kitty is already relaxed and happy from a good brushing session, s/he should be more inclined to let you take a peek in his/her mouth. There are a few things you should look for:

  • Does your cat’s breath stink? (A foul odor is a sign that something could be wrong.)
  • Are your cat’s gums a healthy pink color? Or are they an angry red? (If red - or white/gray - there's a problem.)
  • Does your cat drool a lot? (S/he should not.)
  • Are there brown stains or build-up on Kitty's teeth? (These are tartar and plaque and need to be cleaned away professionally.)

If you notice problems, you'll definitely want to bring your cat in for an exam and, possibly, a dental cleaning. On the other hand, if everything looks good and Kitty's teeth are healthy and white, you can help keep them that way by brushing them regularly. Follow this link to our blog on brushing Kitty's teeth (and how to get him/her used to it). 


Now that you have these grooming tips for cats, which ones do you already do? Do you have any additions or tips for making things easier or more fun? The bottom line is this: do what your cat will allow you to do without stressing either of you out too much or making Kitty afraid of your attention. If Kitty still needs help grooming and won't let you do it, we're happy to help!

We offer full-service pet grooming - just call to make your cat's appointment or fill out our online request form!

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