Some people may ask why cat owners would bother grooming a cat. Since all cats ever do is groom themselves and lay in the sun, what else could be left to do? Actually there is a lot that a cat owner can do to take care of their furry friend that will keep him clean and protect his health, while strengthening the bond between cat and owner.
What’s Involved in Grooming a Cat?
There are a few aspects of general cleanliness that have to be covered. The chances are your cat is already cleaning his fur and doesn’t look as though he was just pulled out of a garbage pile. If your cat does look like he lives in the trash, or if you actually rescued him from the dumpster, you have a little more work ahead of you than you would normally. When it comes to grooming there are a few areas you need to cover:
- Combing/brushing his fur
- Eye care
- Nail care
- Dental care
- Ear care
Why do I have to comb or brush my cat?
Combing and brushing your cat is important for a few reasons. Perhaps the most important reason for combing and brushing your cat’s fur is to bond with your cat. The attention you are giving your cat is a great way to strengthen the bond between owner and pet.
Your cat’s health is another important reason to comb and brush its coat. As you brush away the loose dirt, dead skin, dust and excess fur and remove it with the brush, fewer hairs are left to cause hairballs for your cat. This also reduces the amount of hair you will find on your furniture and floors.
If you brush through your cat’s coat daily the chances of matted fur being a problem for your cat is practically nonexistent. Most short haired cats are able to keep their hair from matting, but long hair cats can have issues with their hair matting and causing fur balls that are dirty and uncomfortable for your pet. Rolling around on something sticky can cause matted areas to hold on to crud, making it difficult to comb your cat. If you do run into areas that are matted start combing at the bottom and work your way toward the skin. Cutting out the matted area can cause injuries to your cat’s skin if you aren’t careful so combing is the best solution.
What eye care could cats require?
Most often the problem is seen in flatter faced breeds, such as Persian, but all cats can have eye matter build up and dark stains in their fur around their eyes. This matter needs to be cleaned up or it can cause brownish stains that look like tear stains running from the eye area to the nostrils.
Taking a warm, damp washcloth and gently wiping dirt or build-up from the corners of your pet’s eyes will quickly remove the matter and reduce staining. If your cat has any redness, puffiness or pus coming from the eye area you should consult your veterinarian.
Do cats require nail care?
Since it’s not recommended that you de-claw your cat (think how you’d feel if you had your fingertips removed!), you are going to have to take care of his nails. Staying indoors all of the time makes it difficult for your cat to sand his nails and keep them from growing into his foot pads. It can be quite painful for your cat if his nails grow until they puncture the padded areas of his feet. Cats scratch things to sharpen their claws and grind off excess length. Giving your cat something to grind off excess nail length is helpful. Some cats use scratching posts or your sofa to help in this area – the scratching post is the better option, though!
For other cats a simple nail trimming session once a month is enough to keep their nails healthy and keep them from having to claw up your favorite leather recliner to protect their feet. When you trim your cat’s nails only trim the very tip off. If the nail is clear you can see the pale pink vein in the nail. Do not trim to that depth. If your cat has black nails you may want to have a vet or groomer trim the nails the first time so you don’t overdo it. Cutting into the quick (the vein area in the nail) just once is painful enough it will make your cat wary of getting near nail trimmers again.
What about dental care; how am I supposed to get my cat to brush his teeth?
Well, your cat isn’t going to brush his teeth! You can help out in this area though. Some experts say brush your cat’s teeth daily, I haven’t met a cat that liked having his teeth brushed. My suggestion is to routinely check your cat’s mouth and brush when you can. If you want to brush your cat’s teeth daily then you should try it early in the day, before you have fed him. Offer him a treat right afterward. This might get him to stick around long enough for you to finish.
If you brush his teeth carefully with a special brush to get the debris off remember not to use toothpaste; it’s made for humans and is not good for your cat. A plain brush will do fine; you just want to make sure there isn’t anything left in your cat’s mouth for long periods. Regularly offering crunchy foods can help remove build up and strengthen gum tissue (and usually don’t end up getting you bit or scratched up).
Do cats need special ear care?
Actually, it is better to leave your cat’s ears alone for the most part. It is important to try to keep your cat’s ear dry. If you are cleaning the cat and get water in its ear, clean and dry it immediately. Ear infections are one of the most common issues for pets and moisture in the ears can cause an ear infection.
If your cat has a smelly substance or any pus coming from the ear area it can be a sign of an ear infection. If your cat has these signs of infection or problems with the ear area being reddened, abnormal balance or any other issues or symptoms of ear problems you should take your cat to the vet.
Is bathing a part of routine grooming for cats?
While bathing is something that dogs need on a routine basis, bathing isn’t the same with cats. When it comes to grooming a cat you are better off to leave bathing to emergencies. If you are brushing your shorthaired cat weekly or your longhaired cat daily then you really don’t have to bathe them. Monthly visits to a groomer or a monthly ‘kitty grooming day’ at home is all you need to keep your cat beautiful.