Cats have a knack for keeping owners on their toes, and cat and kitten grooming is no exception.
“In my 13 years of cat and kitten grooming, I have seen the cat climb the paneling near the tub to get away from the water, and the kitty that likes the water and looks at me upside down in the tub. I’ve seen the sweet little kitten who kneads us, the table, the tub, the comb and anything he can get his hands on,” says Danielle Genovesi, owner of Honey’s Haven in West Hartford, Conn.
Cat and kitten grooming can prove challenging, so use the right tools, begin when your cat is young and introduce regular cat grooming routines to make the task less daunting.
Regular combing and brushing stimulates a cat’s skin and keeps the coat clean and healthy. Comb or brush shorthaired cats at least once a week, and longhaired cats every other day, or more often if needed. A comb reaches the cat’s skin better than a brush, especially with longhaired cat breeds. Wide- and fine-tooth combs used together provide the best results.
“Take a wide-tooth comb through [the fur] first and then follow with a finer tooth. That way you can make sure to get all the [shedding] undercoat out,” says Michelle Schrader, owner of Doggie Do’s and Kitty’s Too, in Akron, Ohio.
When combing or brushing your cat, examine its body for problems such as skin irritations, fleas or ticks and mats, which can hide deep in the coat.
“Combing your cat from head to toe usually only takes about five minutes if done regularly,” says Linda Tumminello, head groomer of The Cat Connection Inc. in Dallas. Carefully comb mats out. If they won’t comb out, contact a professional groomer.
“Never use scissors on a cat to get the mat out,” Schrader says. “I have a number of customers who have tried themselves and have cut the cats and they’ve needed to get stitches. Bring it in to have somebody cut it out. You don’t want to take a chance on cutting the cat.”
Check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth and nails regularly. Many cats are prone to eye tearing, so wipe the cat’s eyes with a warm, moist washcloth or cat-safe eye wipes.
Check your cat’s ears twice a month for dirt or wax buildup. Gently wipe the visible part of the ear with a cotton ball and cat-specific ear cleaner or a wet washcloth. Do not go into the ear canal, as this can cause damage. If dirt or matter accumulates inside the canal, it must be flushed out professionally.
On average, clip your cat’s nails monthly. “If you have not trimmed your cat’s nails before, practice on a toothpick,” Tumminello says. “A cat’s nails and toothpicks have about the same feel to them when being cut.” Be careful not to trim into the quick or pink area of the nail, as it will hurt the cat and cause bleeding.
Don’t Forget The Teeth
All cats should have their teeth examined by a veterinarian at an annual checkup. You can brush your cats’ teeth between veterinary visits.
“Cats do build up a lot of tartar and plaque on their teeth, because they don’t really chew on things. [Home dental care] helps keep the plaque from settling,” says Dara Samson, owner of Wags to Whiskers Pet Grooming in Long Beach, Calif.
Go Beyond Cat Grooming
Cat grooming should be a natural extension of the love and care owners already have for their cats, and a little love can go a long way.
“Handling, touching, petting and loving your cat daily will help when it comes to building trust, which is a big hurdle to cross when grooming your cat,” Samson says.