Do Cats Really Need Help With Grooming ?
Traditionally we think of cats as being perfectly capable of grooming themselves, but there are some situations where we need to give our kitty friends a little help. If your cat has long hair, this is not a condition Mother Nature intended, and they need help dealing with it. Long haired cats need regular brushing and occasional bathing to keep their fur from becoming tangled and matted. If you or your kids are sleeping with the cat, you’ll want to be sure that kitty is kept nice and clean with a regular bath. And all cats benefit from brushing, which also helps to remove loose hairs and reduce shedding around the house. Cats often need to have their claws trimmed. Elderly cats (both short and long haired) often need to be bathed quite regularly as they age, because as their joints become stiff, they lose flexibility and are unable to keep themselves clean. In all of these situations, cats need help with grooming. You can either call a professional cat groomer, or provide the needed care yourself. If you are up for the DIY experience, below are some tips for making your cat presentable to the world.
Pick Your Timing
When grooming your own cat, choose the timing carefully. Be careful not to groom a cat right after punishing or scolding her for some type of wrongdoing. Some cats really enjoy being brushed, but many merely tolerate the grooming process, and you don’t want your cat to associate grooming with being in trouble. It also helps to gauge your cat’s mood and try to pick a moment when they are favorably inclined to tolerate your intrusion into their plans for the day.
Brush Cats Carefully
When brushing, use the right type of brush to effectively get through your cat’s coat and remove tangles, but don’t irritate the skin. There are generally two types of brushes you might consider, and which one works best will depend on the length and thickness of your cat’s fur. Bristle brushes are good for smoothing short coats and removing moderate amounts of short loose hairs. Pin brushes are generally necessary to get through longer hair. In either case, brush extra carefully around tender areas such as armpits, belly, and groin, and at the same time give extra attention to these areas because they have greater tendency to develop tangles. Care is needed, as if you get a brush caught in a tangle or snarl and hurt the animal, work it out carefully. You don’t want them to associate your grooming sessions with pain. Use gentle stokes to brush your cat and of course make sure to brush in the direction of the growth of hair, not against it.
Your cat is unlikely to stay right where you want them, especially when you first start working with them on grooming. So you will need to restrain them, but always gently, never with force. Never hold your cat down as you attempt to groom it, just keep a light hand on them, and talk to your pet in a soft voice. You may find it easier to get them to stay in place if you hold them on your lap while brushing. Or try putting a thick towel on top of your washing machine, and use that as a work table.
Cat Bathing is a Challenge
Cat bathing can be done at home, but it’s not for the faint of heart, or anybody who is fragile or mobility-restricted. You can read more about how to bathe your cat in some of our previous posts, so we won’t go into it here.
Keep it Short
Don’t try to do everything in one session, especially if you are just getting started. Brush only as long as your cat will tolerate it. Work on one area per session. If there are many tangles, just work on one each day. Break your grooming up so that instead of one marathon session, you do several shorter ones. You could trim nails one day, brush the cat’s teeth on another day, and give a bath on a different date.
Whatever you do in a grooming session, remember to offer your cat a highly desirable treat at the end of each and every session. This will help your cat feel rewarded rather than betrayed. You are less likely to get scratched and clawed by a cat when he associates the activity with a reward rather than being forcefully held still. We’ve posted previously on how to introduce a cat to grooming, so try those tips. And if your kitty is still uncooperative, call in a professional cat groomer to save the day!