To keep your cat happy, healthy and clean it is essential to properly groom your cat. By reading this section you will learn how and when to groom your cat and also what equipment to use. You will learn how to brush your cat, bath your cat, how to clean your cats ears and how to look after your cats teeth.
Brushing and Combing
Cats spend 10 percent of their waking hours grooming themselves by licking dirt and excess fur of their coat but this is not enough to properly keep them clean and some cats do not clean themselves properly. You should brush and comb your cat on a regular basis. Short-hair cats are much easier to groom than long-hair cats. If you are unsure of what your cat is, visit the breeds section. When you are grooming your cat you should be alert and checking for fleas, scars, wounds and lumps.
The first thing you need to know is the difference between a cat comb and a cat brush. A cat comb is used to remove excess hair, remove knots and to remove dirt. A cat brush is to fluff up the fur and make it smooth and look good. If you own long-hair cat I would recommend buying both a comb and a brush as you will learn later on, if you own a short-hair cat it is not as important but you can if you want.
You could alternatively choose to buy a cat grooming kit which includes a comb, brush and everything else you need. You can buy the right equipment from your local pet shop but you could also consider buying online. There are many different combs and brushes to choose from and all of them have their advantages and disadvantages. If you want to get the best results and not spend a fortune you should buy a wide toothed comb, a brush and a flea comb. This should all cost under $20
It is a waste of time brushing your cat with a normal comb/brush. The advantages of using a cat brush is that it shelters the natural body oils, the bristles gently remove tangles and after brushing your cat it will have a shiny, good looking and healthy coat. But most importantly it is designed to remove excess hair, then in future when your cat cleans itself it does not swallow as much hair, preventing it from having a hairball.
If you have a kitten, it should be brushed from an early age so it becomes accustomed to the process and doesn’t find it a scary and distressing experience. It will enjoy the grooming procedure but most of all you will not have to train it later on in its life. If you have an adult cat that does not like to be brushed and finds the experience frightening, introduce grooming slowly and do not make the sessions more than five minutes. If this does not work you could try ending the grooming session with playtime so your cat will look forward to it each day. One of the most important things to remember is that a short session each day is better than a long session each week.
As I briefly mentioned before, short hair cats are easier to groom than long-hair cats, it is a bit more difficult and the process can take a bit longer. If you own a short-hair cat you should groom it on a weekly basis or every few days and it should take from 5 to 10 minutes. If you own a long-hair cat grooming should be done every day or every two days and it should take about 10 to 20 minutes. By now you are probably thinking ‘how can you brush a cat for 20 minutes’. The grooming process is not just brushing but is also cleaning nose and ears if necessary and sometimes brushing your cat’s teeth. For more information about these, read on.
To groom your cat, follow these easy steps:
Place your cat on a bench or table. It depends on what your cat is most comfortable with; some owners brush their cat on their laps.
Gently brush from head to tail using short and gentle strokes with your comb to remove knots, do not pull hard otherwise it will hurt and distress your cat, making the experience unpleasant and enjoyable. For best results also brush under its neck and stomach. If you have a flea comb, brush again from head to tail.
Use a brush to fluff up the fur, if you are unsure of what brush to use ask your local pet shop. A cat brush is good for your cat’s appearance and health and can be brought from a number of different places.
Bathing your cat
It is not necessary to bath your cat unless it becomes very dirty. Most people who have prize-winning cats bath their cat on a regular basis. Many cats do not like water and find a bath a frightening and traumatic experience. If you ever need to bath your cat, the below information will tell you how. The first thing you need to do is to brush your cat to remove excess hair and dirt. Talk to your cat with relaxed voice to keep it as calm as possible and do no make quick movements. Have everything ready before you start which should consist of 4-6 towels, shampoo, a hair dryer and cotton balls. You can use special cat shampoo or you can use regular shampoo but it really doesn’t make a difference.
Use cotton balls to protect water from getting into your cats ears. If your cat has smaller ears use only half or even a quarter. If you have a bathroom or laundry hose, use it because it makes it much easier. If you don’t have a hose use a cup or plastic container. You should not wear good clothes because the chances are that you will end up as wet as your cat. Wash your cat in a bath or a laundry sink. Start by wetting it with warm water. Avoid wetting its eyes and ears as much as possible unless it particularly dirty.
Hold your cat firmly because it will try to escape and probably bite and scratch you. Once the cat is wet apply shampoo and gently massage. If your cat is really dirty you can shampoo twice. Rinse your cat from top to bottom and make sure you get all of the shampoo out. Use the towels to dry your cat as best as you can then finish the job off with a hairdryer.
Cleaning your cats ears
Cleaning your cat’s ears should be a part of your grooming routine. To get rid of the dirt and wax, use a cotton swab but never go deeper than you can see because it can cause permanent damage to your cats hearing. It should be done every month.
Many people do not brush their cats teeth often enough, some have never done it. If your cat’s teeth are not brushed, bacteria will build up and could result in loss of teeth. You should brush your cat’s teeth every week. If you have a kitten you should start brushing when all of its 36 teeth have grown which is around 6 months of age. If you have an adult cat, introduce slowly and keep the sessions short.
You can buy special toothbrushes designed for cats but a child’s toothbrush will be just as good, just make sure the bristles are soft so they do not cut the gums. Do not use normal toothpaste because it will cause digestive problems and make your cat sick. You can buy special cat toothpaste from your pet shop, vet or online. (Marmite is said to do the trick)
To properly brush your cat’s teeth start by gently brushing the outer surface of the teeth. Do not brush the inside of the teeth until your cat is used to the process. Brush in a circular motion from the bottom of the gum to the tips of the teeth. Some cats require professional cleaning when there is a severe build up of tartar. When brushing your cat’s teeth note the condition of your cat’s gums.
Consult your vet if the gums are swollen, if there is any bleeding, bad breath, drooling, dark spots, sores, refusal to open mouth or reluctance to eat. If your cat has any of these symptoms there is a chance that it has gum disease. Gum disease is common in cats and can be fatal unless treated. It begins with the build up of plaque and tartar which causes the roots to become infected. This can be prevented by regular brushing.
By Andrew McGregor.