Top Tips for Feline Hygiene

Cats are usually totally into hygiene all by themselves; constantly self-grooming.  In fact, cats spend up to fifty percent of their waking hours grooming themselves. Cats start grooming their kittens right away and it is an instant bond between Mom and kitten.  This can be the case between owner and cat as well.  There are definite reasons that grooming your cat is a good idea.

  • Hair balls are a common issue for cat owners and brushing or grooming your cat is the best way to reduce the hair they will ingest doing their own grooming and will greatly reduce hair balls.
  • Detecting injury or illness.  Grooming is a good chance to pay close attention to any boo-boo’s or other concerns around you cat’s health.
  • Accustoming a cat to regular handling and providing valuable interaction between cat and owner.  If you cat ever does have an injury it will be easier for you to assess if your cat is accustomed to being touched everywhere by you.
  • Long haired cats or cats that spend time outdoors do get dirt that is more difficult to clean away.

For many cat owners the thought of grooming their cat sounds like something they would put on their wish list right after root canal!  If you are going to take on grooming your cat yourself make it as easy on yourself as possible.

The right tools.  Like any important job, there are tools that can make the job easier.

The Basics:

  • Brushes- Slicker brushes are curved or slanted brushes with very thin teeth. They are ideal for medium- to long-coated cats. The Pin Brush helps to remove knots and tangles in fur to prevent matting. The pins easily go through long fur to carefully comb and neaten the coat. And cats with short, sleek hair can often be groomed with a bristle brush.
  • Combs- A Fine toothed comb (sometimes also called a flea comb) can be run through your cat’s coat from head to tail, being sure to always brush in the direction of the fur to avoid any discomfort. Concentrate on one section at a time to remove any dead hair, dirt, and debris, and take extra caution when brushing around the face and belly as the skin is particularly delicate. Steel Toothed combs (sometimes two sided) are popular to reach below your cat’s topcoat to gently remove loose hairs and reduce shedding.  They can also be great to remove mats. Mats can occur anywhere, but main problem areas for long haired cats include behind the ears, on and around the legs, under arms, tail and around the anus.  These areas are also among the most sensitive areas on the body. Exercise great care in brushing and combing through them.
  • Cat Wipes– These are a must have to quickly and frequently wipe away dander, dirt, and saliva residue. Make sure to choose a product that is unscented and free from parabens, chlorine, and other harmful ingredients.
  • Grooming Glove– These are an awesome option especially for cats who distrust traditional brushes and grooming tools. You just slide the glove onto your hand and stroke your cat like you would normally do petting them. The velcro-like surfaces will feel like a cat’s tongue to them; like a massage similar to grooming they got as a kitten.
  • A Toothbrush and Paste- I know this is a lot to ask but…you should try to brush your cat’s teeth daily. At minimum 3 times a week.   If you are very regular about brushing it will be less stressful for your cat.  Plaque begins to harden in less than one day, so it is most effectively removed before it turns to tartar.  Poor dental hygiene can lead to many health risks for felines.

More Advanced:

  • Professional Pet Nail Clippers- The main reason cats’ claw at things is to keep their nails in good shape. You may want to choose a pair with a safety guard to keep you from cutting too much or too close to the nerve.  You should also keep a nail file to smooth out the rough edges right after a cut.
  • Grooming Clippers- A popular option is a “silent” trimmer to safely remove fur without the buzzing and vibration of conventional clippers. This will be less stressful alternative for sensitive cats.  If the mats are to tight be very careful not to cut the cat with the clippers also. It takes just one fast movement of the cat to do this, especially the loose areas.  The mats can be tight and pull on the skin and make it very uncomfortable to the cat.  Make sure to get the correct size blades.

When grooming matted fur do not use scissors because it is very easy to cut the cat.

In closing…remember to always have lots of your cats’ favorite treats around with all the above to make grooming a fun rewarding activity if you can.  Also; there are some cats who just do not tolerate being groomed. If your cat fights the grooming process, and there is some potential that injury could occur to your cat or yourself it is safer for everybody to make an appointment with a professional groomer or a veterinarian to have your cat groomed.

 

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