Cat Grooming

Brushing       Hairballs       Claws   

Dental Care        Bathing        Special Grooming Problems

 

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  Brushing

Grooming should be an essential part of your cat’s life.  If you begin when she is young, she will become accustomed to grooming early in life and it will be easier to groom her as she matures.  She may resist at first, but will soon come to enjoy the extra holding and petting you give during grooming time.

For longhaired cats, a long-toothed metal comb and a stiff brush are best.  First your should manipulate the hair coat against the way it lays so it is fluffy then brush in the direction of hair growth.  Brush shorthaired cats with a soft rubber brush or hand mitt with short bristles.  Longhaired cats should be brushed daily and shorthaired cats at least once or twice a week; to help control your cat’s shedding and help prevent hairballs.   

A cat sheds to a certain degree all year long, but especially in the spring and fall.  Brushing is particularly important during these seasons to help rid your cat’s coat of dead hair.  A sleek, lustrous coat reflects the good nutrition and careful good care you give her.  Make sure you have your grooming supplies ready when you first get your cat so she can become accustomed to them. 

Hairballs

Cats usually do an excellent job of grooming themselves, but even the neatest cat can fall victim to troublesome hairballs.  You may one day see him vomit a long, dark mass – commonly called a hairball – made up of hair your cat has ingested.  Forming in your cat's stomach and intestine, hairballs can cause dehydration, weight loss, and intestinal obstruction, as well as hinder digestion and elimination. Signs or symptoms of hairballs include loss of appetite, chronic vomiting, sluggishness, and constipation. Both long and shorthaired cats can have hairballs and the best solution is prevention.  You can help prevent or eliminate hairballs and shedding by careful and regular brushing and combing of your cat's coat.  

If hairballs continue to be a problem, remedies are available from your veterinarian and from most pet shops.  There are some all natural hairball remedies you can try.  Olive oil is said to help with hairballs.  You can put 1/2 a tsp of olive oil in your cat's food dish.  Some people recommend oily fish to prevent hairballs in their cats.  Another trick is to put a small amount of petroleum jelly on the tip of your cat's nose and allow them to lick it off their nose.  You may find this odd, however, the active ingredient in in petroleum jelly is petrolatum, which is actually the same active ingredient in many of the over the counter hairball remedies available in pet stores. If you have any concerns please consult your veterinarian before trying these natural hairball remedies. 

 

Claws

An indoor cat’s claws may become torn and ragged and require clipping.  A scratching post will help to keep them in good repair and minimize or eliminate the need for your intervention.  Never use scissors to trim your cat’s claws.  Use special cat clippers.  Here is how to clip your cat's claws.  Hold the cat’s paw up to a strong light so you can clearly see the quick – the sensitive pink part of the nail you want to avoid.  Gently squeeze your cat's paw to extend the nail and remove only a small portion of the white outer nail.  Make sure you hold the nail trimmer perpendicular to the nail.  If in doubt have your veterinarian show you how to cut the nail or have them do it. 

 

Dental Care

Your cat’s permanent teeth emerge between 14 and 30 weeks of age.  The most common dental problem affecting these permanent teeth is the buildup of plaque, leading to deposits of a hardened calculus on the tooth surface.  Left unchecked, this calculus can eventually cause inflammation of the gums and the lining of the tooth socket.  And without proper treatment, the teeth eventually loosen and fall out.  

To prevent this, try cleaning your cat’s teeth on a regular basis.  Gently wipe the outer surface of his teeth with a gauze pad dipped in a paste made of baking soda and water.  Never use toothpaste formulated for humans – cats could ingest it and digestive upset could result. Also, tartar is less likely to develop if your cat has crunchy dry cat food to chomp on.  Regular dental examinations conducted by a veterinarian also are recommended.

 

Bathing

Most cats do not like baths and under most circumstances, you will not need to bathe her.  Cats don’t really need baths unless they have managed to get into some sort of trouble or are seriously infested with fleas.  Kittens under 6 months of age are extremely susceptible to illness and should be bathed only if absolutely necessary.  Always use a shampoo made especially for cats.  Since cats clean their coats by licking, it’s possible they could groom off chemicals that have been applied.  

If it becomes necessary to bathe your cat, follow this procedure:  Gently and loosely place cotton in your cats ears and a drop of mineral oil in each eye to prevent water from entering and causing infection.  Fill 2 wash tubs with about 4 inches of warm water – make sure it feels comfortable to your elbow.  Place your cat slowly and gently into the bath and bathe her with cat shampoo, working from head to tail.  Rinse him thoroughly in the other tub, and then wrap him in a towel.  Finally, dry her with a hair dryer set on warm (if he is not scared of the dryer otherwise use a towel).  Keep her away from drafts until completely dry. 

Special Grooming Problems

  • Gum, tar or other sticky substances:  Remove by rubbing in a little mineral oil.  If this doesn’t work, cut the affected area out with a scissors.  Be cautious not to cut too closely to your cat’s skin.
  • Water-based paint:  Wash the affected area immediately with soap and water. 
  • Oil-based paint:  Wipe fresh paint off with a dry cloth and then wash with warm water and soap.  Dried paint should be cut off with scissors.  Be cautious not to cut too closely to your cat’s skin. 
  • Caution:  Never use paint remover, kerosene or gasoline since they can severely irritate the skin.  

 Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.