You might think that cats are self-cleaning creatures, but actually even the most industrious kitty needs a little help in the grooming department from time to time. If you’re living with a cat, plan to spend time grooming your furry friend. Of course, that may be easier said than done if you have a cranky cat. Some cats love the attention of being groomed, while others fight it tooth and claw, especially when it comes to getting wet. Never fear, here are some tips for encouraging your cranky cat to accept grooming…or at least create a state of detente that allows you to get the necessary chores done.
Many cats don’t like to be touched for long periods of time. If you have one of these cranky cats, try to accomplish your grooming process in short bursts. For example, brush the cat for 5 to 10 minutes and then let him go play; try another 5 or 10 minutes later that day. If 5 minutes is more than your cat can tolerate, than do less and build up the time. Gradually, she will get used to being touched and will tolerate longer and longer sessions until you can do the grooming all in one sitting.
Talk soothingly to your cat while grooming. Many cats see grooming as a negative thing and it scares them. Talk softly, explain what is going on, and tell the animal you love him as you brush its shiny, soft fur. Even if they don’t understand a word you are saying (and never underestimate a cat’s intelligence!), the tone of your voice will help calm your kitty, and concentrating on speaking this way will also help you stay a little calmer as well.
If your cat gets cranky when you are trimming nails or brushing, the most important thing to remember is to hang on to your patience. If you are having a bad day, it might be best to put off the grooming until you are more relaxed. If your cat is testy and you start getting cranky as well, your pet will pick up on your impatience and get tenser and stressed as well, and well, you can see where this is going….a spat between the two of you over grooming is not going to help build a positive relationship. Better to wait for another day and try again then.
Chances are your cat is not going to enjoy being bathed. Most cats by nature do not like water, although I have met a few that like to play in shower spray. Maybe they’re related to the fishing cats at the zoo…or to tigers (who actually like to swim)…but in general, most housecats are not going to thank you for giving them that oh-so-necessary bath.
Most cats accept being bathed, but if yours is cranky, think twice about doing it yourself. When cats lash out to defend themselves, those sharp teeth and claws can do a lot of damage very quickly. If your cat is notoriously “feisty,” this may be the point at which you either see your vet to discuss the wisdom of a mild sedative, or consider using a professional cat groomer, who will have more tools, tricks, and a better bathing setup than you have at home. If you do decide to attempt a cat bath yourself, the best and kindest approach is to be fast and thorough, and above all, to keep all parties calm.
To make the bathing process go quickly for you and your cat, make all possible preparations before taking the cat in hand. Have the bathwater and rinse water ready, and shampoo & towels within reach before you start. You don’t want to be hunting for towels with an unhappy cat in your hands! When bathing, keep soap and water away from eyes and ears, and for safety keep your hands away from their face and teeth while your kitty is at their most unhappy. (Use pet wipes to clean the cat’s face at another time.) A spray nozzle works well for rinsing the soap off; making sure to keep the nozzle close to the cat’s fur, so as not to upset an already upset animal. If you don’t have a sprayer, then fill a couple of pitchers with warm water before starting the bath to use for rinse water when the time comes. Towel dry your kitty to avoid the noise and stress of a blow dryer.
Smaller, less intrusive grooming tasks like brushing, detangling knots, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and face washing are relatively easy to work up to even with the crankiest of cats, as long as you keep your sessions short and always positive. Just don’t expect too much too soon. With patience and persistence you can do this! If you’re leery of taking on the larger task of bathing, consider having a professional groomer handle this chore. Getting somebody else to do the bathing will associate that person (in your cat’s mind) with any unpleasantness they perceive, rather then you. Wouldn’t you rather be the good guy who provides the daily brushing that your kitty has come to love?
Following these tips should make grooming your cranky cat a little easier. Combine these with a lot of patience and love and you will have the prettiest cat around in no time at all.