When it comes to cats most of us see them as low maintenance self groomers. And it’s true!
Cats learn to groom from their mothers as newborns. By the time they are weaned they are experts and can spend up to half of their awake time grooming themselves.
Why do cats groom themselves?
Cat’s self groom to remove loose hair, dirt and parasites, such as fleas, from their coat. The practice also helps to minimise matting of the cat’s fur.
Cats also use the saliva spread on their fur from licking as a way in which to cool down.
Self grooming also stimulates the sebaceous gland at the bottom of the hair follicle to produce an oily secretion called sebum. The cat spreads the sebum through licking in order to oil and protect it’s fur and to give it a gorgeous shine!
A cat’s grooming can also be helpful to we humans in indicating cat health. A straggly appearance can indicate that a cat is unwell and unable to groom itself. For example, an older cat with arthritis may be struggling to keep up appearances if joints are sore.
Do I Need to Help My Cat With Grooming?
Despite your cat being an excellent self groomer there are aspects of grooming where we humans need to lend a helping hand. Ensuring your cat is clean is an important aspect to their overall health and wellbeing.
Dirty cats are more likely to bring bugs and diseases into your home which may impact the health of humans and cats. Making sure you have the right knowledge to keep your cat in tip-top condition will minimise this risk and have a positive impact on your health, your family’s health, your cat’s health and your environment.
We’ve got a few basic grooming tips to get you started:
- Brushing – one or two brushings a week (maybe more for longer haired cats) of your cat’s fur will help to remove any excess hair, dirt and grease that self grooming has not picked up. Brushing also helps to remove dry flaky skin and stimulate blood circulation, improving the overall health of your cat’s skin. When your cat gets elderly and is no longer able to fastidiously groom herself, she will appreciate the helping hand that brushing gives. And of course a favourite benefit of brushing is the bonding time shared with your cat.
- Bathing – we’re all aware of the cat’s reputation for disliking water. Luckily with self grooming, bathing your cat is generally not necessary. However, if your naughty feline gets extra dirty or finds herself in something sticky or smelly you will need to bath her. Firstly, make sure her claws are cut and time the bath for when she is most relaxed or tired.
- Nail Care – If you’re lucky enough your feline friend will look after her own nails. A cat will instinctively scratch rough surfaces to shortened her nails. Encourage this practice by providing scratching poles and mats in locations around your home. Some cat owners are not so lucky, in which case a regular nail trim is required every few weeks. A quiet place with no distraction, a quality pair of nail clippers, and a good technique are keys to success. Be very careful not to cut the quick (the pink part below the nail) as it holds tiny nerve endings and is very sensitive.
- Ear Cleaning – A cat’s ear flap has a fine layer of hair on the outside and is light pink on the inside. There should be no bald patches on the hair layer and the inner flap should be clean. Inside the ear can be inspected by gently folding back the ear and looking down the ear canal. Do this in a quiet and peaceful location. If you notice any discharge, redness, swelling, excessive earwax or smell contact your veterinarian.
- Eye Care – it’s a good practice prior to your grooming session to give your cat a quick eye exam in a well lit area. Look into your cats eyes to ensure they are clear and bright and healthy. Look for any discharge, watering, crusts in the corner of the eye, tear-stained fur and red or white eye linings. Clean any matter away gently with a damp cotton ball. It is important not to leave eye problems untreated and if the problem persists seek veterinarian advice on treatment.
- Dental Care – Your cat needs strong, sharp, clean teeth and healthy gums to be able to eat properly and continue to thrive. On inspection, gums should be firm and pink and not swollen. Teeth should be clean and free of brown tartar. Inspecting your cat’s mouth and brushing her cat teeth regularly and providing her with chew toys will help maintain optimal oral hygiene.
How to achieve Cat Grooming Success!
Grooming sessions should be enjoyable for both you and your cat. Scheduling a session when your cat is relaxed, perhaps after eating or exercise , will help increase the chances of completing a successful grooming session.
Schedule it also when you are in the mood! Your cat needs to have a positive experience for her to allow you to groom her in the future.
It should be noted that some cats will just not tolerate being groomed. You may choose to persevere but if their is any risk of harm or injury to you or your cat you may need to consider using the services of a professional cat groomer. Today there are many mobile cat grooming options who come to you, avoiding the need to transport your cat.
However, if your cat continues to display anxiety and stress when being groomed by a professional, speak to your veterinarian about possible treatment options.
We aim to share the most up to date cat grooming tips and information to help you maintain optimal health for your feline friend.
If you have any brilliant tips or tricks that you’d like to share with us please contact us here. We’d love to hear from you!