How to groom your cat?
Grooming is part of a cat’s natural instincts and it is something that they really enjoy and do constantly throughout their waking moments. But still there are some aspects which a pet parent needs to focus on.
Cats, generally, are happy to spend hours grooming themselves and they have a tongue that is well
suited for this task. Their tongues are formed so that they can remove any loose hair or small foreign objects from the coat. The tongue can also provide saliva to assist with the grooming of the dead and loose hair and this is why cats often appear to be quite damp when we know they have not been outside in the rain.
Why cats need grooming?
A cat’s coat sheds almost continuously and this is important for the removal of dead hair and often it seems that the cat can lose a great deal more hair than is really necessary. Grooming also cleanses the coat of impurities – these impurities are dissolved or loosened on the coat and are transferred to the tongue and swallowed. This, together with the loose hair, can develop hairballs which are generally removed from the cat’s stomach by coughing them up or, in some cases, by vomiting. Obviously the thicker the coat, the more hairballs will be created and can form and so, if we see our cats gagging or vomiting, we soon realise that the cat has been spending a great deal of time grooming.
Usually there is no problem with hairballs and the cat can soon throw up the accumulation of hair or it passes naturally through their system. However, in some cases, when the cat becomes really distressed and unwell, pet parents should take them to the veterinarian to have them checked. It is well known that fleas like to burrow into cat’s coats so grooming on a regular basis is another reason to check for fleas or mites.
All round grooming
Brush regularly: Using a comb with very narrow teeth is the easiest way to remove fleas.
Dental care: Also check your cat’s teeth to make sure that tartar is not being built up around the teeth and gums.
Don’t neglect the feet: Check between the toes and pads and remove any mats that have built up between the toes…. if your cat remains totally inside the house then clip the nails, but if the cat goes outside, he needs his claws in case he meets up with an angry visiting Tom cat.
Never leave your kitty wet: If your cat comes inside and he is wet through, wrap him up in and towel and briskly rub him dry and give him a good brushing until his coat is perfect again.
Show cats need regular grooming: If you have a show cat then he will require constant bathing and grooming to make them pristine clean and beautiful before they go before the judges. In that case you need to start very young so it becomes part of their daily routine.
Don’t shrug off the shoulders: Just about the only place a cat cannot get to and groom properly is the space between the shoulders. Their necks just do not allow them to reach this spot so it is up to the pet parent to pay attention to that area. Fortunately cats adore having their necks and shoulder scratched by their pet parents so it is something they look forward to.
Care for shorthaired cats: Shorthaired cats do not require the grooming of a longhaired cat but, just the same, they do like to be clean and well groomed and they too can enjoy a good comb and brushing in between their own activity of self grooming.
Care for longhaired cats: If coats of longhaired cats are not well groomed and are neglected, they become badly matted and greasy and so they need several minutes each day to keep their longhair in really good, clean, condition. An ungroomed longhaired cat is not a pretty sight and also it can become very painful for the cat and, in some cases, the coat needs to be clipped right back and allowed to grow again. Your veterinarian can do this and there are also professional cat groomers.
Cats need love and affection to become good companions and grooming them on a regular basis soon establishes a wonderful relationship between the cat and pet parent and a well groomed cat is a very happy cat.
(Joan E Henderson is based in Australia and she has judged furry felines in many other countries including USA, Bermuda, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Philippines and New Zealand.)