Pet Advice grooming and bathing your cat

Published on April 10th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


Kitty Care: Grooming and Bathing Your Cat

The fact that cats spend so long cleaning and grooming themselves might make you think that they don’t need any help in this respect. In fact, a cat can spend around 5 hours each day looking after their personal hygiene. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need to give them a helping hand now and then so here are some tips on grooming and bathing your Cat.

Why Groom Your Cat

There are a number of excellent reasons why you should groom your cat. Clearly one of the most important is to keep the coat and skin in good condition. This in turn will keep your house and your clothes cleaner (from malting hair for example) and will lower the risk of them suffering from hairballs. If someone in the house suffers from cat allergies then this will also help them too. By cleaning and grooming them you can also check them out for any health issues such as fleas and ticks, weight loss, tumours or anything else that needs to be checked out. It is also a smart way to spend some quality time looking after your cat and spoiling them.

How Often Should You Groom Them?

The regularity with which you groom your cat really just comes down to the type of coat they have and how well they handle having this done. For example, if they have short hair then they probably hardly ever need to be bathed and only need their hair brushed once a week or so. The exception would be if it becomes obvious that they are unable to clean themselves well for some reason, such as poor health. With a long haired cat you may need to brush their hair a few times a week or possibly even every day. The Persian breed is a prime example of the type of cat that really needs to get brushed once a week. Their nails will probably need trimmed every couple of weeks too.

How to Care for Their Coat

Grooming your cat is something that should be a pleasure for the both of you. However, while some cats love this right from the start, it takes others time to get used to it. The best starting point is to do this when you have plenty of time and both you and the cat are relaxed. If they are not yet used to you grooming them then it is best to start off with short, gentle sessions and gradually spend more time doing it. It also makes sense to begin by brushing their coat with your hand before you use a brush or comb. Be sure to take care around their more sensitive areas and to brush in the same direction that the fur is growing. Give them praise and rewards for behaving well while you do this.

What Grooming Tools and Products to Use 

There are a several different grooming tools and products you can use to make this task easier. You might need to try out a few different ones before you settle on the perfect products for you and your cat. If you have a long haired cat then you will want to start with a wide tooth comb or a shedding comb. This kind of comb is great at getting rid of old or tangled hairs. You can then use a grooming glove or a more conventional grooming comb to finish the job by smoothing their coat and making it shine. With shorter haired cats you can probably just use a soft brush and then a chamois to take care of their coat. Indeed, some cats only need the chamois used on them. Flat combs are useful for helping you to locate fleas in a cat’s coat and can also be used to clean out dirt and dead hairs.

Dealing with Matted Hair

It is pretty common for long haired cats to have their coats matted now and again. In this case you need to grip the matted area as low down as you can. Now work from the tip inwards using a wide toothed comb. Some people try to cut out the matted hair with scissors but it is far too easy to accidentally cut the skin if you do this. In severe cases of matting you might need to look for help from a vet or grooming professional.

Preparing to Bathe You Cat

Most cats tend not to like bathing, but you may have to do it if they have long hair or if it ends up very dirty. Because they tend to put up a real struggle it is recommended that you check with a vet before attempting to bathe a cat that has health problems or heart issues. Generally speaking, it is good to bathe them at your waist level and in a basin which allows them to see you over the edge. You might need to have someone help you when you do this. You can get shampoos that have been specially formulated for cats but you should avoid flea shampoos made for dogs. Before starting you should get everything you need close to hand, including the shampoo, towel, sponge and anything else you might want to use. Comb out tangled and matted hair before bathing them, as it is easier to do this on dry hair.

Bathing Your Cat

You will want to start by wetting them gently rather than spraying a strong jet of water at them. Lather them with soap and then rinse from the neck downwards. If you get water in their ears or on their face then expect them to get angry and try to shake off all the water. You might want to try putting cotton plugs in their ears to avoid water getting in there. The simplest way to clean their face without risking getting soapy water in their eyes is to use a damp cloth or sponge. You will want to ensure to rinse out all of the soap and shampoo, as this will irritate the skin if left on. Squeeze out the excess water from their tail and feet before patting them dry with a towel. Some cats don’t mind getting their coat dried with a hairdryer but you need to keep moving it so as not to burn them. Brush out any tangled hair while they are still a little bit damp, as it is much easier this way.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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