Cat grooming: behavior, benefits, tools, tips

In this post we will understand the cat grooming habit, the benefits of cat grooming, besides we will prepare tools necessary to groom cats and we will know the basic tips to make cat grooming easier, safer and cleaner.

Cat Grooming

Grooming Behavior

Cats groom themselves often and their grooming pattern is programmed. For instance, cats always wash their faces with their front paws exactly the same way, starting in small circles around the nose and then up around the ears. They then lick the rest of their bodies in order; some may end up cleaning between their footpads. Cats groom themselves after eating, upon awakening from a long sleep, and after being handled.

Cats in the same household also frequently groom each other. Mutual grooming can be arousing and may precede either sexual behavior or aggression. What begins as gentle grooming can become harder and harder and lead to a wrestling match.

Because of cat’s continual grooming it is very important for an owner to keep a cat brushed and as free as possible from loose fur, which can be ingested and cause the formation of hair balls . This is especially true in the case of longhaired cats, which are apt to groom themselves more frequently than shorthairs, but which also need owner help in order to keep their coats free from mats.

Benefits of grooming

In fact, cats are so particular about daily grooming that it may not seem necessary to give them any extra help.

One reason for grooming your cat is that it strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Grooming cats from a young age helps establish this special bond. Most cats enjoy the close contact with their owners and the sensation of being brushed or combed.

You can also give your cat a general check-up while grooming. Take the opportunity to inspect eyes, ears, and claws, and to monitor your cat for possible health problems such as parasites, hidden injuries, lumps and bumps, and changes in weight.

Another benefit is that regular grooming helps reduce the amount of loose hairs that cats lick up and swallow. Normally, the hair forms into harmless balls in the stomach, which the cat then coughs up. However, sometimes the balls become large enough that they are a health hazard, causing choking or becoming lodged in the lower gut, and causing a blockage in the digestive tract.

In old age, cats sometimes lose their enthusiasm for hygiene and may need gentle grooming to help them maintain dignity and cleanliness. The sudden neglect of self-grooming in cats of any age is a warning sign that all is not well, and needs to be investigated by a vet.

Grooming Tools

The following accessories will aid in the maintenance of the cat’s exterior finish.

Brush: The ideal tool is a soft wire or bristle brush that can remove tangles without irritating skin.

Comb: Usually made of steel and featuring both fine and coarse teeth, this tool can bring order to the coat of a longhaired cat.

Currycomb: Often made of rubber, this tool removes loose hair from short-haired models.

Grooming Glove: Covered with nubby, hair-catching material, the glove is useful for face grooming, and for cats that will not tolerate brushes.

Nail Clippers: Purchase a set specifically designed for cats.

Scissors: Excellent for removing particularly stubborn tangles.

Seam Ripper: A sewing accessory that is also very useful for untangling mats.

Styptic Powder: This blood-clotting powder  will quickly stop bleeding caused by trimming a cat’s nails too closely.

Toothbrush: Useful for grooming the faces of longhaired cats and for dental hygiene on all models. (Use separate brushes for these functions.)

Chamois Cloth: Imparts a glossy finish to the exterior of shorthaired models.

Tips For Easy Cat Grooming

Cat grooming is still extremely important even though cats are some of the cleanest pets to own. They very carefully wash themselves with their tongues each day. House cats still need a bit of extra care with bathing and brushing, especially if they are long-haired.

Most experts agree that a cat does not necessarily need to be bathed unless his coat is naturally greasy or he has gotten into something particularly sticky or dirty. If one does decide to bathe his cat, it is best to use a spray hose although a large plastic cup will also work well for wetting the cat down. Be careful to not get water into the cat’s ears; sometimes a cotton ball can be placed in each ear for extra protection. Next, massage shampoo into the fur starting at the head and working towards the tail. Finally, rinse the soap off thoroughly and dry him in a large, warm towel.

A short haired cat should have his coat brushed every week while a long haired cat should be brushed every day. Brushing a short haired cat is actually quite easy. A metal-toothed comb works best for removing loose fur and can be followed up with a rubber-bristled comb which picks up any fur that has been left behind. A metal brush will also be necessary on a long haired cat for removing any snarls in the fur. The tail fur should be divided down the middle and carefully brushed to each side.

Cat grooming can be a special time for owner and pet bonding. Any grooming should be handled with gentleness and patience; if the cat gets terribly upset, the grooming session should be put off until a calmer time. However, with regular times of grooming, a cat may become quite used to being handled this way and may even start to enjoy it to some extent.

Ears

The ears should be checked regularly for signs of unpleasant odor, redness, and/or inflammation, all of which should be examined by a veterinarian. Professional service is also required if a cat is constantly scratching its ears. To clean the ears, use a cotton ball moistened with water. Clean only the external, visible portion; do not probe the ear canal. Do not use a cotton swab, except under a veterinarian’s advice.

Eyes

A healthy cat’s eyes should always be shiny and free of discoloration. Some models may have long facial hairs that get into the eyes and cause irritation and/or corneal damage. Watch for this problem, and make sure your groomer keeps the cat’s face clear. Do not attempt to cut the long facial hairs yourself, because you might poke the cat in the eye with the scissors. Examine the eyes for discharge, and wipe away deposits with a warm cloth or with a commercial tear-stain-removal product.

Teeth

Examine the teeth for discoloration, tartar buildup, chipped or missing teeth, and signs of wear. Also examine the gums for signs of inflammation or discoloration. Remember that an oral infection can be very dangerous. A long-term problem can become a drain on the cat’s internal organs and/or immune system—not to mention the fact that the infection is located just inches from the feline’s central processing unit. Regularly brushing your cat’s teeth, while somewhat difficult, can help head off dental problems.

Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

This procedure is usually much easier if the cat is accustomed to it as a kitten. If this is not the case, your feline may have to become habituated to the process. During play or grooming sessions, when the cat is relaxed and happy, make a point of briefly rubbing its muzzle. When it becomes comfortable with this, gently handle its teeth and gums. Only when the cat becomes accustomed to these invasions is it fruitful to attempt brushing. Most veterinarians recommend that you brush a cat’s teeth two to three times a week.

  1. Procure a soft-bristle toothbrush and a toothpaste specially formulated for cats. The human variety can cause indigestion.
  2. Offer the cat a taste of the toothpaste. Most are specially designed to be highly palatable and flavorful. Repeat this procedure daily until the feline is comfortable with the process.
  3. Rub the toothpaste along the gums of the upper teeth. Repeat this procedure daily until the feline is comfortable with the process.
  4. Use the toothbrush. Focus on the gum line. Work from back to front. It should take approximately 30 seconds to do the entire mouth.

Do not try to brush the entire mouth the first time. Gradually build up brushing time until you can cover all the teeth in the allotted half-minute. Brushing before a meal or a regular treat will help your cat see dental maintenance as a positive experience.

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