Cats are famous for keeping themselves clean, but every now and then they need a bit of help from their human companions. Grooming is important not just to keep cats looking beautiful – it’s also essential for their health and wellbeing.
Cats are good at cleaning themselves, however there are certain areas that require extra attention. These include:
- Skin & fur– By brushing your cat’s coat once or twice a week, you will help to remove dead hair and skin cells. Brushing also gives you a chance to make sure your cat’s skin is free from wounds, parasites and irritations.
- Paws & claws– You should check your cat’s feet and nails regularly to make sure they’re healthy. Clipping cat claws that have grown too long will also prevent problems.
- Teeth & gums– It’s important to check your cat’s teeth from time to time to make sure they’re healthy. Cat teeth cleaning may also be required.
Because cats can’t tell us if anything feels sore or uncomfortable, we have a responsibility to keep an eye out for any health problems through regular grooming sessions.
How to bathe your cat
Cats are usually fastidious about grooming so a bath is rarely necessary. However there are some circumstances where you might need to wash your cat. Elderly cats, for instance, might need help with bathing. The same goes for cats who are very overweight, or have medical issues.
Not sure how to wash a cat? Here are some tips to make the process easier:
- Buy a specialised cat shampoo – You should never use human shampoo, because the pH level is wrong for cats.
- Get another person to help – This way, one person can hold and soothe the cat, while the other gently washes their fur.
- Choose the right time– It’s advisable to bathe your cat when they are sleepy and mellow, rather than excited and active.
- Choose a shallow bathing area – You don’t want to overwhelm your cat. For this reason, it’s best to use a sink (rather than a bathtub).
- Put a folded towel down – It will help your cat if they have something to stand on and cling to.
- Pour small amounts of warm water– Your cat might respond well to having water gently poured over them from a plastic cup or jug. Avoid getting water in their eyes or inner ears.
- Massage shampoo from neck to tail– Apply a small amount of cat shampoo to your cat’s neck, gently lather, and work your way down.
- Rinse thoroughly – Make sure to remove all traces of shampoo by pouring more warm water over your cat.
- Dry with a soft towel– After their bath, carefully rub your cat with a dry towel, and then let them dry completely in a warm room.
Above all, when learning how to bathe a cat, it’s important to make sure they feel comfortable and safe. With time, your cat will get more used to the process.
How to brush your cat
Brushing will help to remove dead hair, which will reduce the likelihood of your cat developing hairballs. It’s especially important to brush your cat if they have long hair: otherwise it can become tangled and matted. If you establish a brushing routine when your cat is young, they will become used to it, and might even grow to love it.
For best results, we recommend:
- Get a good quality cat brush
- Wait until your cat is relaxed
- Reward good behaviour
- Take care around the belly
Long-haired cats require more brushing than short-haired cats. If you are unsure how often you should brush your cat, seek advice from your vet.
How to clip your cat’s claws
Overly long claws can get stuck in carpet and fabric, which can lead to broken claws and other injuries. Additionally, cats with claws that are too sharp can cause damage to furniture – and to humans!
Clipping cat claws can be a tricky process. If you don’t feel confident, it’s best that you seek the services of a professional pet groomer, or your vet.
As with brushing and teeth cleaning, it’s best to introduce your cat to claw clipping from a young age. Here are some tips for success:
- Get specialised cat clippers from a pet store, or your vet
- Start when your cat is relaxed
- Gently press your cat’s paw until their claws are exposed
- Bring the clipper to their paw, and wait to make sure your cat is still relaxed
- Clip only the very end of the nail tip, to remove the sharp point
How to care for your cat’s teeth
One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to look after their dental health. When the gums are inflamed, it can be uncomfortable for your cat to eat.
During check-ups, your vet will check your cat’s teeth. However it’s a good practice to regularly check your cat’s teeth yourself, to make sure there are no issues. Here are some things to look out for:
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Redness or inflammation
To keep your cat’s teeth in top condition, brushing at least twice a week is recommended. Here are some general tips for cat teeth cleaning:
- Brush using special cat toothpaste – Only use cat toothpaste from a pet store or vet. To brush, use a finger brush or a piece of gauze covered in cat toothpaste.
- Do not use dental floss – Floss should never be used, because it can be accidentally swallowed.
- Feed your cat special dental treats – Edible cat dental treats can help to remove plaque and tartar.
- Look into water additive options – Some vets recommend adding a special solution to your cat’s water to keep their teeth clean.
If you need further advice on how to bathe a cat, clipping cat claws, or cat teeth cleaning, please seek the guidance of a trained vet. By keeping your feline friend properly groomed, you’ll strengthen your bond, and help to keep them healthy and bright!