Often cats will fight tooth and claw to avoid the things that are good for them, like their grooming routine. Yes, cats are fantastic self-groomers but even the best of us need a helping hand sometimes and thought your cat won't openly admit it to you, yes, helping them out with grooming can be very important.
Hopefully, this isn't an issue for you or your cat but it's always best to be prepared, just in case.
As a pet owner, you could also send your cat to the groomers to take care of this for you, but this can become costly and become stressful for your cat if they aren't familiar with the person they're with or the act of grooming.
If you can, it's always best to introduce your cat to grooming slowly, making sure they are happy and comfortable, and possibly offering them treats as a reward for their good behavior.
Let's look at the benefits of grooming a cat, not only do you get to spend quality time with your feline and increase the bond of trust between you, simple acts like brushing your kitty help keep their fur healthy by spreading their natural oils, keeping away tangles and mats, and increasing their blood circulation.
They will also need you to keep an eye on the health of their ears, eyes, and teeth, all extremely important body parts for any cat (or human). Cleaning their eyes and ears helps them stay clean and lowers the chance of them getting infections or things like clogged tear ducts or ear mites.
And though a lot of people don't know cats need their teeth cleaned just like we do! They get a build up of plaque or tartar on their teeth and need a little more help getting rid of it than just giving them something to chew on. Frequent brushing helps improve general mouth health, and keeps away infections or irritation, as well as giving them nicer, fresher breath!
And of course, there's nail trimming too, though unless your cat has a condition that causes over-growth of their nails this part of the routine is mostly a cosmetic touch for indoor cats. It can help stop them scratching your furniture (or your guests) and over-all keeps the nail healthy.
The last step you should look at when grooming your cat is often the most important, but also the least favorite. Bathing. Now, this should be done rarely as part of treating your cat for fleas, but if your pet is depressed or sick it could become a normal part of your life because if they can't keep themselves clean it's your job as their owner to help them do it.
Bathing isn't always fun, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare if you know how to make it easy and stressfree for everyone involved.
But hold on, before you go diving in head first it's important to know the "don'ts" portion of grooming your cat. Going in full force with all your new ideas could just ruin the experience for your cat completely, they will lose their trust in you or you could potentially even hurt them.
Most of the don't are fairly simple and seem like common sense because if you think of taking cat of your cat as if you were taking care of yourself, you'd agree that all of these don'ts wouldn't be on your list of super-fun activities either.
Bathing: Bathing can be stressful for cats, especially ones that dislike water. It's important to introduce your cat to the bath slowly, letting them investigate the area and become more comfortable in the situation before you just pick them up and throw them in.
Make sure the water is around a temperature you'd bathe in, and don't get water in their sensitive ears or eyes - if you need to wash their face it's better to do this with a warm, damp washcloth rather than in the bathtub.
Nails: Like with all grooming practices it's important you take this slowly with your cat, don't force them into having their claws trimmed or make the situation scary, otherwise they'll never let you do it again.
Don't hold onto their paws with force, you only need a slight pressure to extend their claws, and never cut the pink colored portion of the nail (otherwise known as the "quick") this is where all their nerves and blood vessels are, it is dangerous and you will hurt them.
Ears and Eyes: Don't think you need to do these tasks every day, these only need to be done very rarely, when you actively notice dirt or build-up around them.
Be very gentle and never make your tools more than just damp as water in their sensitive ears or eyes is irritable for cats.
Teeth: Let's be blunt here. Cat's don't like their teeth being touched, can you blame them?
You're likely to get a finger full of teeth if you take this on too quickly. Work up slowly and gain their trust in their mouth otherwise, you could end up on the receiving end of all of their pointy bits, or you could seriously hurt them.
Now onto the "how to" of cat grooming. It's better to start your grooming regime as young as possible, however, all cats can get used to being groomed if you make it part of their daily routine, however small you start.
Make sure your cat is calm and relaxed (usually after eating is a good time to start) and begin slowly with brushing to allow them to get used to your touch, the attention, and the feel of the brush on their skin.
For Short-haired Cats: Start with running a fine-toothed metal comb over your cat from head to tail, this is a great opportunity for you to look for fleas or injuries you might not otherwise see. Then use a rubber or soft bristles brush to remove dirt from their coat and add some shine.
Frequency: Once a week.
For Long-haired Cats: Start with a wide-toothed comb to remove debris or loosen any knots in their fur, use must work very carefully when removing mats or knots on your cat, and if you don't feel comfortable removing them, always go to a groomer for help.
It's better to pay up for a groomer than risk hurting your cat or yourself trying to cut out a mat from a stubborn cat.
Next, take a wire or bristle brush or remove loose hair, and add shine. You can also consider using a soft toothbrush around your cats face if they are comfortable with you being near their eyes or mouth.
Always brush with the grain of you cats hair, never against, as this can be uncomfortable for them, for humans it would feel like someone forcing your hair up into a too-tight ponytail.
If you want to work against the grain try using a blower to remove loose hair before brushing it back down into place.
This isn't as difficult as it seems, though it can take some time for you and your feline to get used to. A great way to start is to spend time every day massaging your cat's feet and legs so that they get used to the feeling of being touched.
You can gently push on the pads of each toe to make their claws extend, and get them used to that as well.
Once you're ready to start, make sure your kitty is comfortable and relaxed, you can even give them treats to make the routine more enjoyable for them.
Simply press gently on the pad of their toe until the claw extends and use a sharp, quality trimmer made for cats nails to trim off some of the white parts of the claw.Always trim parallel to the flat of the claw and as said above never cut the pink quick.
It's okay if you only get one claw done a day, progress is progress and the most important thing is that your cat stays happy and stressfree.
Frequency: Every 2 weeks
This one is one of the easiest of the lot, once your cat agrees to let you into their mouth. Gaining their trust in this area can be difficult because no one really likes people shoving things in their mouth, right?
Right. Start teaching your cat to love teeth brushing but simply rubbing your finger around their face, nose, and mouth area, over time beginning to tough their teeth and gums.
You can add a cat-friendly toothpaste (NOT human toothpaste) onto your finger so that they get used to the flavor paired with the action of touching.
Slowly introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush into the mix, brushing their front teeth in small, gentle circles and moving towards the back of the mouth.
Frequency: Every day would be ideal but as often as possible works just fine.
This act isn't pleasant for cats, and should only be done if their ears are visibly dirty, however, if they become dirty again quickly after you've cleaned them please take your cat for a visit to the vet to rule out any ear infections or other problems.
Simply take a cotton ball and lightly dampen it with a solution made for cleaning cat's ears (not just water). Gently hold your cat with their ear flipped backward and wipe away any dirt in their ear by turning the cotton ball.
Do NOT push the cotton ball into their ears or attempt to clean any part of the ear that is not easily touched by the turning cotton ball.
Frequency: Very Rarely (Only if their ears are visibly dirty.)
Make sure your cat is held comfortably (you may need someone else to hold them) but securely. Simply dampen a washcloth with clean water and gently wipe away the build up in their eyes, starting from the inner corner and moving outwards.
Reinforce the cat's good behavior with treats and love, for any activity where you are near a cats face can be stressful for them, especially touching their eyes.
Frequency: Rarely (If you notice dirt or any buildup in the corners.)
Unfortunately, it's time to bathe your cat, trust me they're not happy about it either, but bath time can be a happy time if you make sure your cat is comfortable in the room you're using and is comforted with lots of treats and positive reassurance.
The actual method of bathing is super simple, it's much like bathing yourself. Make sure your water is warm and around 3-4 inches deep, and your tub has a rubber or non-slip bath mat in the bottom (cat's are control freaks and don't like the feeling of floating in too much water, or unstable footing on a slippery bath.).
Gently wet your cat using a spray hose or jug, but do not pour water directly over your cats head, you can wet the top of their head with your hands if needed, but you should never get water in their ears, eyes, or nose.
Use a shampoo made specifically for cats working it thoroughly through from head to tail (NOT the face). Rinse well and pat your cat dry with a large towel.
Frequency: Very Rarely (only in cases of Flea Treatment or if your cat is too sick to clean themselves.)
Grooming your cat doesn't have to be difficult or scary and your cat will love you for it! It's the perfect reason to spend even more time with your furry companion (a great excuses for not attending that office party you were invited to) and one of the best ways to solidify your bond with your cat.
A clean cat is a healthy cat, and a healthy cat is a happy cat!
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