Want a Lasting Bonding Experience? Groom your Cat!

Grooming your cat is the perfect opportunity to establish the beginning of the bonding experience.

It is important to begin the grooming experience as early as possible.

It is important for your cat to get used to being handled and learn what to expect when you bring out the comb and brush. It is an added plus that you get to spend some “one on one” time.

If you, as the caregiver, look forward to this quiet time and you establish a certain time of the day or week to do your cat's grooming without feeling hurried, it will be a pleasant time for both of you.

All cats, both longhaired and domestic short hairs need to be groomed. Granted cats are known for their fastidious way, but they need help, too.

There are areas of a cat’s body that it cannot get to very easily and need help grooming, especially the long hairs.

Brushing your cat helps remove loose hairs thereby helping keep your house free from a “fur invasion.”

Brushing also keeps your cat from swallowing the loose hairs as it grooms itself, which helps eliminate some hairballs.

Brushing stimulates the natural oils in the cat’s body and makes kitty’s coat shiny and soft.

Many cats do not like to be held and that is why it is recommended that you start the grooming process at an early age. This gets the fussy cat used to being held and handled. If your cat is one of the ones that does not like to be held it is best to start the grooming process with short periods of time.

Patience on your part is necessary, talking softly will help and so will the offer of a favorite food treat make the experience worth while for your cat.

This is also an opportunity for you to become familiar with your cat’s body and will alert you to any unusual things that might appear.

You will need to purchase some grooming tools such as a soft brush for domestic short hairs. A flea comb (which is not only good for finding fleas,) but helpful in removing loose hairs and checking for dandruff. A wide toothcomb for long hair cats, a metal brush with rounded ends, a pair of “guillotine” nails clippers and a cat toothbrush.

For longhaired cats it is important to check for knots between the back legs, behind the front legs, the tummy and around the ears using a wide toothed comb. Work slowly and gently.

As you comb through the neck and back sections a little at a time, check for fleas and look at the condition of your cat’s skin.

If you find small black specks, put some on a white piece of paper and then moisten them with a bit of water, if the spots turn red or dark brown they are a sign of fleas and the cat needs to be treated. There are a variety of good flea products on the market.

It is also a good idea to check the fur around your longhaired cat’s anus and genital area for mats and things that may get stuck in those areas.

After you have combed through Kitty’s fur, gently brush its coat. When brushing the tail do not go from the back of the cat to the tip of the tail. Cats do not like their tails brushed that way, brush the tail from side to side. If kitty has allowed you to do all this he/she certainly deserves a treat and a few kind words.

Domestic short hairs will require a brushing with a soft brush. Most short hairs tend to keep themselves well-groomed

However, we are not done yet. We have nails and teeth to check to check over.

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, nails are not something you have to think about as kitty needs its nails for all the things cats do outside.

Indoor kitties are a different thing and clipping your cat’s nails is something you or your vet should do.

This is why I suggest you start at a very early age to handle the cat and play with its front paws. Clipping the nails is not difficult to do, providing your cat is used to you handling its front feet.

Your vet or professional groomer can show you how to clip your cat’s nails. All your need is some patience, possibly a friend to help you and a good pair of guillotine clippers.

You will be clipping just the very end of the nail. Gently extend the nail out from the paw by pressing softly from underneath the paw pad. There is a pink colored vein that you can see, do not clip that part that is known as the “quick,” it is live tissue and will bleed. It is a good idea to have some styptic powder or any other cauterizing powder on hand, just in case you do have an accident and need to stop the bleeding. It will stop in a very short time when you apply the powder and a little pressure.

Nail clipping is important especially in older indoor cats as their nails can grow long and may penetrate the pad.

Persian and other flat-faced cats have a problem with eye tears and nasal secretions. Your vet will recommend a solution to use with a cotton ball to wipe away the discharge.

As a general rule cat’s ears are fairly easy to keep clean. Usually a little warm water on a cotton ball (not a Q-tip) will clean out any dirt or ear wax.

Should you see a dark waxy build up that is a sign of “nasty old ear mites,” call your vet in order to get some medication to help get rid of those pests. They are very uncomfortable for your cat and if you have other pets, they can get them, too.

Did you know that almost 70% of cats that are 3 years and older have dental problems?

Canned food and dry food cause tarter buildup. Initially the plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing, however eventually it hardens and grows below the gum line and can cause problems for your cat.

As time goes on and if the buildup is not attended to the tissues surrounding the teeth are killed and the bone socket that is holding the teeth in erodes and the tooth or teeth fall out.

Dental disease can also cause heart, lung and kidney damage to your cat.

This is why starting at a very young age will help your cat adjust to you brushing its teeth.

A healthy mouth has white teeth, pink gums and the breath has no odor (except after eating tuna flavored food.) A mouth that is in trouble will have discolored teeth, reddish colored gums, loose teeth and bad breath (no tuna fish here.)

In order to get your kitten used to you “being in its mouth,” it is best to start when your kitten is very young.

The best way to start is to dip your finger in some “tuna water” (from a can of people tuna) and rub your finger along its gums. You will need to do this for several days (maybe more) until kitty doesn’t squirm and fidget.

Once you have conquered that put a small piece of gauze around your finger and again do the tuna water bit and rub kitty’s gums. This too, may take a few days for kitty to get comfortable with.

This accomplished, it is time to move onto the “toothbrush” and kitty toothpaste. There are special toothbrushes made for cats and dogs and are available in pet stores.

Do not use people toothpaste for brushing your pet’s teeth. Kitty’s tummy will not like it.

If you have an older cat and you have not ventured into the “tooth brushing” bit, may I suggest that on your next visit to your vet, you have your vet examine your cat’s teeth. It maybe necessary to set an appointment and have kitty’s teeth cleaned.

I realize that this seems like a very long and drawn out process and it will be for the first few times. More than likely it will take you several days to accomplish all that I have suggested when you first start out. Kitty has to get used to you handling him/her in those special ways and you will have to get used to kitty and what you need to do.

If your cat is more that just a “show piece” to you, all the effort you put into keeping kitty well groomed and healthy is worth all the time in the world.

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