An easy way to spot a pet owner is their fur-covered clothing. Whether you own a dog or a cat, you probably also own a lint roller (or 20). Shedding is inevitable, and will soon make its way to your closet and furniture. Keeping up with brushing and general grooming is a surefire way to combat the fur-nado in your home, and combined with regular nail trims and proper cleaning will also keep your pet healthy and happy.
Since I’ve gotten your attention with the topic of shedding (relatable right?!), let’s start with regular brushing and what brushes to use. If your cat has short hair, brushing 1-2 times a week is sufficient. Cats with long hair typically require brushing more often, depending on the nature of their coat. Use a metal comb to work through their fur (remember, their skin is very thin and delicate, so be gentle). For long-haired cats be sure to brush their legs as well, slowly working through any tangles. Be extra gentle near the belly and chest, where the skin is more delicate. Next, use a bristle or rubber brush to remove any dead or loose hair. Don’t forget about the tail, especially for our long-haired fur-riends! Another effective tool is the Furminator. While there are debates on whether it’s too harsh for their skin, as long as you take care (as you would with any other brush), there should be no problem. I would only say that some cats may not like it (which can go for any brush really) and it isn’t always ideal for long-haired cats. However, the Furminator generally has great reviews and is popular among pet owners.
Brushing regularly will not only help with shedding, but also removes dirt from their coat, spreads natural oils throughout their coat, prevents tangles, and keeps their skin clean and irritant-free. Just like we brush our hair regularly, our cats need the same attention and care. Plus, most cats love brushing time and will rub up on the brush for you. This experience is just another way to bond with your feline friends, so brush away!
Any cat owner is no stranger to receiving a scratch or two. It goes without saying that their nails can get incredibly sharp, as they do love to find things to sharpen them on (as mentioned in the last blog). Declawing can seem appealing to some or like a quick fix to the “problem” of sharp nails, but please hear me when I say this: DO NOT DECLAW YOUR CAT. While I could go on for an entire blog on solely this topic, do a little research and you will quickly see why this is inhumane and can lead to bigger issues. Instead, regular nail clippings will keep your cats nail intact as well as your skin.
Clipping your cats nails can seem a daunting task, so get them used to you handling their paws early on. In fact, getting them used to handling any part of their body from an early age can make any grooming or otherwise task much easier and less stressful for you both. For their nails, touch their paws often when they’re young, always giving high praise and treats to associate the experience with a positive one. You can even practice pressing down on each toe, gently extending their claws (again, with lots of praise and treats!) Once the time comes to clip them, use sharp, high-quality scissors to cut off just the white tip of each nail. Be sure to avoid the quick, a vein that runs into the nail, seen as a pink area in the nail. If you cut the quick, it may bleed, but keep styptic powder around and apply to the nail should this occur. This is also a good time to check their paws and paw pads for any debris or wounds. Cats are on their feet all day, so keep an eye out for anything that may cause pain or discomfort to them.
A big difference between dogs and cats is cats bathe themselves on a regular basis. I’m sure we’ve all gotten comfortable on the couch and been joined by our furry little friend, as they curl up in your lap and begin to purr. Suddenly, they’re spread eagle and bathing areas you’d rather not have seen (ew, Fluffy, could you do that somewhere else?!) Clearly, they can take care of themselves for the most part, so regular bathing is actually not needed (mostly for indoor cats, who generally stay clean). However, should they get into something smelly, sticky, or anything else less ideal, a bath may be necessary.
First, be sure to use a mild shampoo that’s safe for cats. Brush them first, then prepare the bath. A rubber mat is a good idea to provide secure footing, and you can choose to bathe them in the tub or the sink. You only need about 3-4” of water and a pull out faucet or sprayer, though having a large pitcher or cup can work, too. Once damp, massage in the shampoo from head to tail, making sure to avoid the eyes or inside their ears and nose. Thoroughly rinse them off and dry with a towel. They will likely become agitated or stressed during this process, so be sure to continue using praise and treats. However, if you find your cat is getting too stressed, you may need to stop and try again.
Any grooming experience can be difficult at times, so try to schedule their spa days for when they are the most relaxed, usually after eating or playing/exercising. No matter what, do your best to make the experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible. You and your cat will be happier for the effort.