Cats by nature are very fastidious groomers- you may have already noticed this just by observing your kitty who most likely grooms himself several times a day. But every now and again your cat may need a little help in the grooming department. This is especially so if you have a long hair cat, or an older cat who may not be able to groom themselves quite so easily.
If you have just adopted or purchased a kitten, then you are in luck- kittens are much more easily accustomed to grooming than an older cat who has never been groomed before. Whether or not your cat is young or old however, you are going to want to keep the first few sessions short, about 5-10 minutes. This is so you can get your kitty used to the sensation of being brushed and having areas touched that usually aren’t touched such as the ears, tail and especially the feet! These areas are extra sensitive, and frequent touching will help desensitize them. This will make it easier when your cat’s hair is tangled around the tail area or when the time comes to cut their nails.
If your cat is a short haired cat then you will only need to brush your cat once a week, maybe even less depending on how much your cat grooms himself. Once you get into a grooming routine you will be able to tell how often your cat needs to be brushed. However, if you have a long haired cat then you will have to set aside time to brush your cat daily so that they do not develop any knots or tangles (commonly referred to as mats) that will need to be cut out. Start with a wire toothed comb to get out any tangles, then use a wire brush (also called a slicker brush) to brush the whole body in the direction of the fur growth. Take care when brushing the chest and belly as these are both sensitive areas.
If you opt to use a deshedding tool such as a Furminator, keep in mind that these types of tools are not meant for daily use. Deshedding tools are wonderful at pulling out all the deep, dead undercoat that can get matted and wreak havoc on your pets fur, however when used daily these tools can cause your cat to develop bald patches. These tools are best used weekly or twice a month depending on your cat and whether they are long or short haired.
Unless your cat goes outside or has a skin infection that requires a medicated bath, your cat most likely will not need to be bathed very frequently. If you do need to bath your cat, be aware that most cats are not fond of getting wet and you may need to recruit a friend or family member to help you. First start out by wetting the coat (for long haired cats this might take a few minutes). Then massage a gentle shampoo such as an aloe and oatmeal shampoo into the skin and fur. Next rinse until the water runs clear. Dry your pet as best as you can with a towel. If your cat has long hair and you want to use a hair dryer, make sure to use the cold air button on the dryer so as to not burn your cats skin.
If your long haired cat is very matted, or if you are uncomfortable bathing your cat yourself, a professional grooming may be in order. Some groomers will do what is known as a lion cut, which is when the cat is shaved down except for the legs, the tail, and the head. This is commonly done for long haired cats when the cat gets very matted and brushing alone will not get the job done, or if your cat becomes aggressive during home grooming sessions and you simply cannot brush your cat. Groomers will also trim your cats nails if you are not able to do so yourself.
Cat nails are much easier to trim then a dog nails. This is because cat nails are always clear, whereas dog nails can be clear, black or brown, which makes it very difficult to see the vein (aka, the quick) that runs through the nail. To start, press gently on the top of your cats toe and the bottom of the pad to extend the nail. Using sharp nail trimmers, cut the nail below the vein (you will see the pink of the vein through the nail). If you do happen to hit the vein it will bleed, so have some styptic powder ready just in case.
If you have never trimmed your cat’s nails before, start off by playing with your cats feet and gently extending the nail of each toe. If your cat gets upset, stop and try again another day. Eventually your cat should tolerate a nail trimming every 6-8 weeks. If you are not able to, or if you are unsure about cutting your cats nails yourself, you can bring your cat to a professional groomer for nail trims.