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Cat Grooming Basics

By Darcy Lockman

Cat Grooming Basics

Before the economy went south last fall, 29-year-old teacher Bethany Clay took her long-haired cat, Charlie, to the groomer every six weeks. “He always looked so nice after his $45 bath with a comb,” says Clay. However, when she became worried about her job security, Clay began to eliminate extras from her budget. “I’m trying to save more these days, so I brought a comb that my groomer recommended, and I’ve been brushing Charlie out every week at home.”

Professional groomers may offer convenience, expertise and a more finished look, but your cat can also benefit from what you can provide at home. Debbie Felder, owner of the Granada Hills, Calif.-based Bowser’s Natural Pet Grooming and a product tester for grooming product company Bamboo Pet, offers tips on home care for your furry friend’s coat, skin, nails and teeth.

Brushing
Brushing your feline keeps its coat shiny, stimulates circulation, gets rid of loose hair and keeping mats at bay. While shorthaired cats can be brushed approximately every 14 days, longhaired cats need more regular sessions, at least once a week.

“Cats have thin skin, so comb gently,” says Felder. “Make sure to check for mats, especially around the ears, where the oil deposited by human hands can lead to trouble.” Mats should be lightly combed out with a steel cat comb.

Washing
While cats clean themselves, even the most dedicated self-licker may need a bath to treat a skin condition, kill fleas or just deal with a big kitty mess. Felder recommends bathing your cat after brushing. She also suggests using a massaging showerhead while your pet is in a wire cage. “If you don’t have a cage, hold your cat by the back of the neck or ask a friend to help restrain the cat while you bathe it. Talk to it soothingly to keep it calm.”

Lay out your supplies in advance to streamline the process. These should include a showerhead or pitcher, shampoo and a towel for drying, since most cats will not tolerate a blow dryer. “Cats are very sensitive to chemicals, so use a shampoo specifically formulated for cats and rinse it out thoroughly. I don’t recommend conditioners: They leave the animal too greasy,” says Felder.

Pedicuring
Regular human nail clippers work just fine on a cat, but Felder also recommends using a Dremel -- an electric, rotating stone that you can buy at any hardware store. “Have somebody hold your cat while you push on the paw to get the nail to extend,” advises Felder. Clip or file only the sharp tip, staying within the clear portion of the nail.

Teeth Cleaning
“You can brush your cat’s teeth, and it’s easy because they don’t have a lot of them!” says Felder. Still, your pet must be prepared for the process. Allow the cat to become used to your finger in its mouth over a few days. Start by flavoring your finger with tuna water and letting your kitty lick you before rubbing your flavored finger over its teeth and gums.

Next time, place a tuna-soaked piece of gauze over your finger, and rub the animal’s gums and teeth. Finally, introduce the toothbrush in the same way you did your finger, dipping it in something appetizing and letting your cat lick it. Flavored toothpastes will help keep the process tasty.

Rules for Good Grooming

  • Keep grooming fun. Approach your cat when you are relaxed and in a good mood. Don’t get frustrated. Talk nicely to your cat throughout the session.
  • Tread lightly. Learn from the mistakes of human groomers you’ve worked with. Be gentle with your hands, keep water at a comfortable temperature and don’t force your cat to remain in an uncomfortable position for too long.
  • Stop sooner rather than later. If your cat begins to resist you during a brushing or filing session, let it go. Finish another day.
  • Ask for help. If your cat just isn’t being cooperative or has mats you can’t tackle, a visit to a local groomer may be the solution. “Most groomers will be happy to demonstrate good techniques for you if you’re having trouble,” says Felder. This will help to keep you -- and your little love -- enjoying the togetherness of grooming time for years to come.

Darcy Lockman is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Daily Cat. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Tags: cat care


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Posted on June 8, 2012

Simran says: I'm actually about to go in to do the same thing. Honestly I belveie that the Pet Grooming class will be great to figure out the basics of the whole Pet Grooming area. One thing though is don't just go out and try to find a job with the certificate right after you graduate Bill is right about they won't take you seriously without hands on experience but the class itself is not a waste. What you should do first is make sure that you, family, friends, or even neighbors have pets that they would be willing to let you do some of the hand-on stuff after you get your certificate or even while you are working on it. That way when you have graduated and have taken some time with the hands-on and got it down pretty well you can use friends or neighbors that you worked on their animals for hands on experience as references to a job.

Posted on October 1, 2009

LUCILLE says: MY SON ROBBIE GAVE ME A PRESENT LAST YEAR MY CAT ANGEL, SHE HAS HELPED ME COPE WITH DEPRESSION AND LIFE I LOVE HER DEARLY.

Posted on July 17, 2009

augusta nash says: lovey for many years slept with me and on top of me too, but lately has left me to sleep with my daughter - stays with her all the time and doesn't seem to know me any more - i still have the litter pan in my room which she enters to use, and a bowl of water - always - but she ignores me completely and i'm so worried it's her elderly age that did something to her brain - do u think this is normal behavior or due to her old age?

Posted on August 10, 2009

catlover says: hi my cat lucky is an out side cat and he sometimes can be very aggressive he doesnot sit still and im wandering what i should do??

Posted on July 13, 2009

Sue says: i've always had one or two cats since i was four. I know I'll die having one or two cats. I don't know what i'd do without thier companionship..:)

Posted on June 26, 2009

Eugene Wolkow says: Tooth brushes don't work. Cats don't like them. I found a finger brush with tooth paste works fine.

Posted on June 30, 2009

kailey says: i love cats there so cute I have 2 of them named Rodger and otter I Iove them sometimes But sometimes they get on my nerves but there cute and that's all that matters so bye!!

Posted on June 8, 2012

Roberto says: I have 4 cats, they have been eating Alley Cat dry cat food. I tried lokniog on the internet for which cat foods are safe, but it's so confusing. Does anyone know if Alley Cat is safe, or not?

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