The Purrfect Groom: Cat Grooming Tips

"Don't cats groom themselves?" People ask. 

While it is true that cats lick their fur to help keep it tidy, most cats do best when their owner helps them with coat maintenance. This is especially true for long-haired cats and older cats who may experience stiffness in their joints that inhibit their grooming habits.

"What kind of brush is best for my cat?" my customers ask me. The truth is the best way to remove shedding coat and prevent tangles from forming is to use a good comb on your cat. But all combs are not created equally. Cat skin is delicate, so it is essential to choose a finely made comb that will not damage the skin or coat as you are working. Smooth tines with gently rounded teeth are a must

Pro-Tip: Use a "J" movement when you comb, guiding the comb straight down into the coat until the tines touch the cat's skin, then lifting the comb up to complete the hook portion of the letter "J." This movement will ensure that you are not just gliding over the topcoat. Pay special attention to the area under the front legs, the belly, and the thick coat around the cat's neck and on the back of the thighs where tangles are prone to forming. Weekly combing sessions will keep most cat's coats in excellent, tangle-free condition.

When it's time to trim your cats' claws, you want a comfortable tool with a sharp cutting surface, so the nail receives a smooth, clean cut. As your cat ages, be sure to check its claws at least once a month. Sometimes, with older cats, the nails curl and grow into the delicate paw pads, causing pain and potential infection. Regular trimming will prevent this from happening.

Most cats readily accept a bath if you avoid spraying water at them. Submerging a cat into a sink full of warm, sudsy water and supporting it comfortably while you work the shampoo through its fur is perfectly acceptable for most kitties. When it is time to rinse, hold the nozzle close to its body, so they don't see or hear water movement.

Many cats produce excess oil from their skin, resulting in clumpy-looking coats and flakiness. When this happens, a clarifying shampoo will leave the fur fluffy and help with the skin, too. However, if an oily coat is not a problem, a good basic cleansing shampoo is best.

When choosing cat shampoos, make sure they are labeled to be safe for felines. Unfortunately, many shampoos on the market are perfectly safe for dogs but can make cats ill. The Best Shot line of shampoos and conditioners are effective and feline-friendly.

Wrap your freshly washed and rinsed cat in absorbent towels to remove as much water as possible. Some cats will tolerate being blown dry, using warm, but not hot, air, but many will not. If your cat falls into the "will not" category, keep it in a toasty, enclosed space such as a bathroom with some dry towels to rest on while it air dries. Combing the damp coat to separate the hair strands will help speed up drying time either way.

You can help keep your cat's luxurious fur looking and feeling it's healthy best with regular combing and occasional baths. With the correct tools and a little patience, grooming time can be pleasant for both felines and humans.