Like many pet parents, you might think that your cat doesn’t need any grooming (unlike dogs). After all, he already cleans himself with gusto every day! But, while it’s true that felines are neat freaks and can clean themselves efficiently, you must realize your cat does need some help in the grooming department.
To ensure he’ll stay healthy and feel more comfortable, you can take the following steps:
Introduce him to the world of grooming
If you have a kitten, start grooming him as early as possible. This way, he’ll grow up thinking that bathing, brushing, and nail clipping are a normal part of life, and you won’t have any problems with keeping him clean and healthy.
It’s more difficult if you have an older cat who’s not used to grooming, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. To help your furry pal get accustomed to the process, you can start by introducing him to short grooming sessions that last for five minutes.
Once the five minutes are up, give him a treat to reward him for his good behavior. This way, you’ll teach him that brushes and combs are not threats and slowly make him realize that grooming isn’t something he should be afraid of.
Make brushing a habit
Brushing your cat helps remove loose fur and prevents him from developing hairballs, but make sure to use the right tools. If you have a short-haired cat, you’ll need to start with a fine-toothed comb and then use a soft rubber brush to remove loose fur.
If you have a long-haired cat, you’ll need a wide-toothed comb to remove any debris from his coat and untangle any knots.
Finish up with a bristle brush or wire brush to remove loose hairs.
Take note: brushing your cat is a great opportunity to check him for fleas. Use a comb to go through his fur and look for black specks similar to ground pepper. These specks are most likely flea feces, and you can differentiate them from ordinary dirt by putting them on a white sheet and sprinkling water on them.
Flea feces contain blood and will turn red or orange when wet. If your cat has a severe infestation, you might even notice actual fleas while combing or brushing his fur.
If your cat has fleas or flea feces, take him to the vet ASAP so he can receive the appropriate treatment. Don’t forget to give your house a deep clean to eliminate any fleas that have dropped from your cat and are now living in your furniture, carpets, and other furnishings.
Learn the art of nail clipping
Trimming a cat’s nails is different from completely declawing him. The latter is equivalent to amputating the cat and increases his risk for developing health issues and behavioral problems. Nail trimming, on the other hand, simply involves the removal of the sharp tips of the cat’s claws.
Before trimming your pet’s nails, you need to accustom him to the sound of nail trimmers as well as to the feel of having his paws held and pressed. Once he’s used to these, use a high-quality trimmer to cut the tips of his claws. Stick to the white part; the pink part of his claws (called the “quick”) contains nerves and blood vessels and should not be cut.
Give him a bath as needed
Cats don’t require baths as frequently as dogs do, but your pet may need one if he has gotten dirty and/or sticky. If this is the case, you’ll need to prepare lukewarm water plus a cat-friendly shampoo.
Use a spray hose to wet your cat’s fur (make sure not to get water directly in his eyes, nose, and ears!), then work in the shampoo starting from his head down to his tail. Once you’re done, rinse thoroughly and then pat your pet dry with a towel.
Grooming your cat can be challenging, but once you master it, you can do your part in helping your pet stay clean, healthy, and happy.