Tips For Grooming Your Cat
We’ve all been there: you just cleaned the house, lit a candle, and are ready to unwind and watch your favourite show. However, your cat just used their litter box and decided to jump all over your clean furniture! We’re used to bathing and grooming dogs, but what about cats? While cats are naturally very clean animals, it’s okay to help assist them with their grooming once in a while. In fact, most cats benefit from it! Here are our top tips for grooming your cat.
Cats Are Naturally Very Clean
In fact, cats are widely considered to be the cleanest of all domesticated animals. If you’ve ever had or known a cat, you know how much they rely on their self-care when it comes to grooming themselves in a patch of sunlight! Cats are very passionate when it comes to cleanliness. There’s a reason you rarely see cats dirty, and it’s because they hate the feeling of it!
Cats are something called mesopredators. Mesopredators are classified as ‘mid-ranking’ predators on the food chain. While cats love to hunt, they also hate to be hunted themselves. In order to cloak themselves from bigger predators, they obsessively clean themselves to avoid being detected. Their frequent grooming helps minimize their scent.
Cats can spend as much as half their day grooming themselves. They cover their waste in the litter box and clean themselves after feeding. Additionally, cats don’t have access to hygiene products like humans do, meaning they feel the need to groom themselves more regularly.
How a Cat Cleans Itself
While it’s common knowledge that cats are incredibly and naturally clean, most people aren’t aware of how cats actually clean themselves. According to Science.org, domestic cats, lions, bobcats, and tigers all possess cone-like papillae that helps them to groom themselves. Their tongues are almost like mini hair brushes which allow them to loosen dead fur from their coats.
The saliva also helps regulate their body temperature in hot weather (since cats hardly sweat), and acts as a surfactant to loosen oils and dirt.
How to Help Your Cat Groom Themselves
Generally, a happy and healthy cat is perfectly capable of grooming themselves. In fact, they enjoy it. If you notice a decline in your cat’s grooming, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Cognitive issues, cancer, obesity, and diseases can be causes of your cat’s inability to groom themselves.
Cats love to be groomed. In fact, it’s often a form of affection and love language to cats! Helping your cat groom themselves can be a way of expressing your love and devotion. It also provides time for bonding, socialization, and relaxation.
Grooming your cat provides many benefits, according to Purina UK:
- Better circulation
- Helps oil distribution, which protects against water and weather conditions
- Removes excess fur to prevent matting
- Improves muscle tone
While cats are very clean, it’s very possible that they need help grooming themselves year-round. Indoor cats can’t regulate their shedding due to regulated heat and A/C seasonally, whereas outdoor cats can occasionally get themselves into sticky situations that require grooming.
Here are some ways to aid your cat with grooming:
- Short-haired cats can be brushed weekly with a fine-tooth comb to loosen knots.
- Long-haired cats can benefit from daily brushing with a steel comb.
- Use natural bristle brushes to collect excess fur.
- Always brush in the direction of hair growth.
- Investigate skin when brushing to ensure no bald spots, bumps, bites, or excessive hair loss.
- Check ears for dirt and signs of infection.
- Brush teeth weekly to optimize dental health.
Bathing Your Cat
Rarely, you may need to bathe your cat. Maybe they got into something they shouldn’t have and are needing a little extra TLC! If this is the case, making your cat’s bathing experience as comfortable as possible is crucial. While some cats have no problem being bathed, others hate water and baths.
Here are some tips on how to properly bathe your cat and minimize stress.
- Begin by trimming claws, if necessary, to avoid being scratched.
- Entice your cat using treats and toys to minimize stress.
- Brush their coat to loosen any fur.
- Hold them by the scruff of their neck, similar to how mama cat would.
- Use a handheld hose or pitcher to wet your cat.
- Avoid getting water in their face.
- Always use a gentle, cat-safe shampoo.
- Rinse them thoroughly.
- Dry them off gently.
- Offer them a reward (affection, play, treats)
If you’re hesitant about bathing your cat and fear for either your or your cat’s safety, take them to the vet to discuss the best course of action. Generally, you may need to help bathe your cat if they’re experiencing medical issues or as they age.
Keep Their Environment Clean
Another huge part of keeping your cat clean is to help keep their environment clean! Cleaning out their litter box twice daily, washing their food and water bowls, dusting, and washing their favourite bedding helps your cat bathe themselves. By minimizing messy situations, your cat won’t have to work as hard to clean themselves.
As mentioned, cats don’t like to feel dirty, and will avoid areas that feel unclean. For example, their litter box isn’t cleaned regularly, they may resort to urinating or defecating in other, very inconvenient areas.
Don’t Forget to Exercise!
One of the best ways to help your cat groom themselves is by helping them exercise. Obesity, illness, and arthritis are all very common reasons for a cat’s grooming to decline. By exercising your cat regularly, you can help them avoid early onset arthritis, illness, and obesity. Keeping their muscles and bones limber will help them groom themselves.
Once cats begin to gain noticeable weight, experience arthritis, or fall sick to illness, they will have trouble cleaning themselves. Keeping them happy and healthy is one of the best precautions you can take to aid their grooming and self-care routines!
Even though cats are very self-sufficient when it comes to keeping themselves clean, they may need a little bit of help here or there. With these tips, your cat’s coat will be sparkling in no time!
Disclaimer: Always seek professional advice from your vet.