Cat Grooming

 

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MORE THAN YOU WOULD EVER WANT TO KNOW

 

 

"Excuse me... don't you think you could use a bath??"

 

 

 

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Earthbath Cat Shampoo & Conditioner in One iconfor Cats Shampoo and conditioner in one, just to save a step and wrap up a bath grooming session a little faster. Mild and with a wild cherry scent this product will leave her coat soft and shiny

 

 

 

 

"So if they can't see any dirt on you... are you dirty?"

 

 

 

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The best way to keep your cat from shedding is for her to have a healthy hair coat. Only Natural Pet Salmon Oil iconis an excellent source for the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Keeping her fur and skin moisturized with these oils reduces irritations and shedding, which in turn reduces the presence of dander, the main source for the allergen Fel d1... which is what makes you sneeze or itch or...

 

 

 

 

"Before you come any closer with those clippers. Notice how many toes I have. And remember, each one has a claw."

 

 

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An important aspect of cat grooming is keeping your home odor free and becomes part of your life style when you have pets. Get Serious! Pet Stain, Odor and Pheromone Extractor iconis serious about helping you not lose control of basic house cleaning chores. Training is the most effective way to control 'problems', but when an accident happens, there is help available

 

 

 

 

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Speaking of 'tuna breath' even our best friends can use a hint from time to time. Feline Greenies Dental Cat Treats icon

 

 

 

 

 

"Alright. If you really want to brush my teeth, I'm ready."

 

 

 

Well groomed cats just know they're gorgeous

 

 

 

 

Cat grooming means cleaning behind the ears, too, ya know!!

 

 

Good Cat Care and Cat Grooming
Good cat care includes cat grooming, an essential contributor to good cat health. The concepts of cat grooming can include many activities such as nail trimming, and fur coat brushing. But, one of the first things that come to mind with grooming is cat bathing. The thought of giving a cat a bath is about as appealing as wrestling with a tiger to most people. Cats can be downright ornery about getting dunked in soapy bath water. But, if a cat has been given baths since she was a kitten, she's more apt to accept a ritual bathing. Done properly, you can think of it as a regular bonding session. After all, cats do like special attention. But try to give an adult cat a bath who has not had one in a long time, or never for that matter, can present a formidable challenge. Talk about herding cats!!

Cat's have good natural cat grooming habits. They spend quite a bit of time taking care of themselves; licking their fur, scratching and combing.

So, the question is, "why clean kitty?". She seems to do a pretty good job on her own.

Well, here are some things to consider:

  • Cats have shedding cycles in nature. In the Spring they will lose their Winter undercoat. In the Fall, they will fill out their coat in anticipation of the upcoming cold months. Domesticated indoor cats have had this natural cycle disrupted due to the climate control of our homes through the heating and air conditioning systems we humans have come to enjoy. The result is constant shedding for your cat since she doesn't have to bulk up for winter as she would in the wild.
  • Excessive shedding can be a symptom of stress within her home environment. Changes in normal routines, illness, the bringing home of that new, cute puppy or a trip to the veterinarian can all produce stress in your cat.
  • A cat's tongue has small backward facing hook-like appendages (papillae) that allows her to 'comb' herself. This is an anatomical advantage that allows her to keep herself clean by removing loose hair, debris (burrs), and parasites such as fleas and ticks. When she licks herself during self-grooming, much of the hair cannot be spit out and is swallowed... due to the shape of these appendages. The hair then passes through to the litter box, or gathers in her stomach into balls. We all know what happens then. Yup... out it comes from her mouth. It's an academic argument as to who that is harder on. You or your kitty.
  • If she goes outdoors there is always the danger of her meeting with a skunk, or picking up fleas and ticks.
  • Then there is the question of allergies attributed to what is known as "dander". When your cat cleans herself, she leaves a coat of saliva on her fur. When the saliva dries, there is a dry, flaky substance left behind which we recognize with our weeping eyes, itching skin and sneezing. Not to mention the thought of her being constantly covered with spit... er, saliva. Those dry, flaky substances are really skin cells that have been shed during the natural renewing of the skin that most mammals experience. They just got caught up in her good cat grooming habits and dried on her coat with her saliva. Of course those skin cells are always flaking off of her and she sheds them constantly. So, "dander" is always accumulating in her environment. Even the most resistant individuals could over time develop an allergy to a cat's presence, due to dander accumulation in her home. For a full discussion of allergens and dander go to the Cat Allergy page.

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Brushing Your Cat's Coat
Cat grooming brushings are always an interesting experience. Though a cat seems to enjoy a good brushing, they'll always let you know when enough is enough, turning to grab the brush or your hand then giving either a good bite. This usually means you are intruding into "private" areas, or you are hurting her in some manner... maybe catching the brush in a clump of matted hair. But, look for a wound, too. Use long slow strokes and let her guide you through the grooming session. Cats always liked to be talked to during times like these. Encouragement and praise will make things go more smoothly. And, a session ending treat are always appreciated. More than likely, she'll want some time to herself after a grooming session to put her hair coat back into place.

Other cat grooming considerations include:

  • For short hair cats, a weekly brushing might be all that's necessary. For long hair kitties a daily, or every-other day brushing and combing could be required.
  • When you brush and comb her, these cat grooming sessions are a good time for you to check her skin, ears, eyes and mouth for any signs of health problems that may require further attention.

Importantly, watch your cat's body language. Before she tries to bite the brush or worse, your hand, she may give off other signals to indicate that she's reaching her tolerance threshold for cat grooming. Look for signs of increased agitation such as tail-lashing, skin twitching, looking back at the brush with ears rotated back, dilated eyes and shifting body position. When you see these signs, stop the grooming session because she's had enough!!

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Giving Your Cat a Bath
Then there is bathing. The best possible scenario is for you to get your cat used to a bath when she is still a kitten. Baths are then less stressful over the life-time of your cat. Cats are creatures of habit. Make bath time a regular routine with positive reinforcement, praise and a special treat afterward. But, when she has managed to get her coat dirty, greasy or cat allergies are starting to kick up, a bath will be called for, no matter what.

  • Use a shampoo designed for cats because the pH factor will be balanced for her.
  • Fill a sink with tepid water to a depth just below her belly. Place a rubber mat on the bottom so she will be able to stand without losing her footing.
  • Use a gentle spray hose or pitcher to wet her coat till it starts to part and the hair shafts are wet down to her skin. Don't get water in her eyes, nose or ears and NEVER pour water over her head.
  • Massage the shampoo into her coat then rinse with with the spray hose or pitcher. Rinse 2 or 3 times to get rid of the shampoo and remember to avoid her eyes, ears and nose.
  • Dry her with a large towel.

The cat grooming bath shouldn't take more than 8 or 10 minutes. Quick and painless. Don't worry if you can't get it right the first time. Expertise comes with practice... don't try to learn it all in one session. Don't overly restrain her and cause her to mistrust you. Spread the steps out over time, always speak in encouraging voice and reward her at the end of every session, even if you don't get completely through a session. You'll both get better at it over time. Do make it a regular habit, though, for best long term results.

A weekly bath may be necessary to reduce the allergic effect of cat dander and helps with ridding her of loose, shed hair. She should at least get a wipe down with some distilled water. Certainly if she picks up fleas or ticks she will need a cleaning to rid her of those parasites.

Any messy encounter (such as with that skunk friend of hers) will require an immediate bath.

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Trimming Your Cat's Claws
Trimming your cat's nails is also a part of good cat grooming care. Getting your kitty used to handling her paws is a good first step to having her comfortable with nail trimming. Here's how to do this:

  • For some time before any trimming session massage her paws, talk to her gently and maybe even provide a treat to reward her for allowing you to handle her feet. You may want to do this for a week before the first time you trim her nails.
  • Be certain that you use a good, sharp nail trimmer. You want the action of trimming to be fast, clean and effective. Trying to trim a second time in one cat grooming session will lead to impatience on your cat's part. And, she may not let you do it again.
  • Trim only the white tip just before the point where it begins to curl. Avoid the 'quick' which contains a vein. It can be seen as a pink area through the nail. Keep some styptic powder near in case you trim too much.
  • Again, don't worry if you don't get it right the first time. You'll have ample opportunity to practice. Just don't try to make her sit through a cat grooming learning session with you.

There are professionally trained persons who can do this for you. But, the resources for professional cat groomers is limited. The best bet is to ask your veterinarian for references. You can also just ask around. Other pet owners will share their experiences with groomers quite readily and in this instance word of mouth is the best recommendation. And of course, you can do a local internet search.

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Brushing Kitties Teeth
Dental diseases including periodontal disease, is not a highly thought of problem associated with cat health care. But, this is a cat grooming concern that should be taken seriously. Brushing your cat's teeth is not a prospect that comes without some trepidation. After all, those teeth are the main weapons used to turn prey into dinner. But, that's precisely the problem. In the wild, cats using their teeth properly, that is tearing and ripping flesh and bones, also provides natural teeth cleaning results. More than any store bought kibbles can give. So, the responsibility for brushing kitties teeth falls on your shoulders. Brushing a cat's teeth should be a daily habit though most elect to perform the oral hygiene session once or twice a week. It's estimated that 20% of domestic house cats don't get their teeth brushed at all. Ideally, kitties teeth should get a daily cleaning, just like you.

The daily cleaning reduces plaque and tartar build-up that provides the environment for bacteria growth and gingivitis. When problems develop because of this build-up, a visit to your veterinarian for professional cleaning will be necessary. It takes about 24 hours for food residue, plaque and tartar to mineralize and become a hard coating that cannot be removed with normal brushing. This hard coating is known as calculus. Limiting this build-up is the reason people AND cats need to brush daily.

So... how does one go about brushing a cat's teeth?

Remember that any physical interactivity should be fun for you and your cat. Enter into this experience with an upbeat and positive attitude, and take things slowly. Don't overly restrain your cat because this will only make her fearful of you and your motives. Especially in the beginning keep sessions short and positive. Throughout the process give kitty lots of praise and emotional support by letting her know you empathize with her unease about this new activity.

  • The first thing to do is get your cat get used to the taste and consistency of toothpaste. But, don't jump right in approaching her with an unknown spear that she doesn't recognize as a toothbrush. Toothpastes for cats usually have poultry, tuna, or other flavors that cats like. Smart, huh. Let your cat lick some off your finger. DO NOT use toothpaste designed for people. Kitty is going to be ingesting the toothpaste and human toothpaste will upset her stomach. Praise her profusely when she licks the paste and then reward her with a really tasty treat she recognizes. If she doesn't like the taste of the toothpaste try a different flavor or brand. Continue this until she looks forward to licking the paste and getting the treat afterward, usually a few days.
  • The next step phase is getting your cat comfortable with having something placed against her teeth and gums. As usual, place a small amount of paste to your finger and gently rub it on one of the large canine teeth in the front of her mouth. These are the easiest teeth for you to get at, give you some practice as well as a chance to admire one of natures more efficient tools. Keep praising your cat and giving her tasty treats or other special rewards that she recognizes.
  • Now that your cat is used to toothpaste, and having something applied to her teeth and gums, it's time to introduce her to the toothbrush or dental sponge you'll be using for her new routine. The first task is get her used to the consistency of her chosen implement, especially the bristles on a brush. What she chooses as a brush will depend on the health of her gums, how cooperative your cat is with the brushing process, and your ability to clean her teeth. There are handled brushes, sponges, pads and even brushes that fit on the end of your finger. So, let your cat start licking the toothpaste off of the brush. Again, praise your cat when she licks the paste and be sure to reward her with a really great treat. This should continue for about a week, but make sure your cat readily licks the paste off of the brush.
  • At this point your cat should be used to the toothbrush & toothpaste, and having something in her mouth. Get ready... the next step is to start brushing. Prepare for the session by first putting yourself in a good frame of mind. Your attitude will go a long way towards reassuring your cat will have a positive cat grooming experience. Talk to her in a happy voice during the process, filled with praise for her cooperation. Lift the upper lip gently and place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Gently move the brush back and forth. In the beginning, just brush one or both upper canine teeth. You don't need to brush the inside surface of the teeth, the side towards the tongue. Movement of your cat's tongue over the inside surfaces keeps them relatively free of plaque. Offer lots of praise and end on a good note by giving her the anticipated treat or other reward.
  • As your cat accepts having her teeth brushed, slowly increase the number of teeth you are brushing. If you weren't counting, this process could take a month or more to establish as a routine to be enjoyed by both of you.

The more often you brush your cat's teeth the better her dental health will be. But, for optimum cat grooming diligence, a daily dental brushing for your cat should be routine just like daily dental care is for yourself. Getting started is the hardest part about home dental care for cats. But, once you have done it for a while, it'll become part of your cat's daily routine. Even if you can't brush daily, brushing every other day will remove the plaque before it has time to mineralize. The result will still be a positive effect on your cat's oral health. And, she will have a great smile, too!!

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"Oh, Alexander... Time for Your Bath"
"A bath??" smiled Alexander, our well trimmed Abyssinian. "Well, I suppose it's o.k. Besides, Ling-Ling, my lady friend down the street, insists on well groomed and clean guests in her home. After my last encounter with that Compton le Phew fellow, that strange animal with the white stripe down his back, Ling-Ling wouldn't come near me for a week".

Alexander's thoughts returned to his brother lounging in the African bush. His bad breath, uncut nails and matted fur all languishing under the sub-tropical sun.

"In those pictures he sends... the females of the pride always keep a significant distance between themselves and him... hmmm. I wonder if it has anything to do with his cat grooming habits?"

"I do hope we have some of that forest scented cat grooming shampoo left."

"Someone turn on the warm water!", he roared...

Bottom line. Good cat grooming routines are just good habits for both you and your cat. Your house will be easier to keep clean. Allergies will be kept under better control. You get to give her a close, caring inspection to be certain of her general health, and she will appreciate the attention and love you show by doing so. Just keep in mind that any cat grooming habits that you want to implement are going to take time to develop... up to 30 or more days. This'll undoubtedly be a test of both you and your cat's patience. You'll have to be as persistent and stubborn as your cat, but yet gentle with your persuasion. When you see the signs of her tolerance level being reached (dilated eyes, twitching and sharp tail flitting, reaching back at the tool your using or your hand and laid back ears), just let her go and try another time. You may have to try several different approaches before realizing any success. You may even have to settle for some kind of compromise that is less than your ideal goal of a perfectly groomed cat. Always keep cat grooming sessions fun and don't give in to any frustrations that could easily ruin any relationship with your cat. Don't forget... she can read your tolerance level, too.

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Backward facing, hook-like appendages on her tongue lets your cat do her own cat grooming and "comb" herself. The problem is the hair can only go one way after it's collected... down the hatch!!

 

 

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GripSoft Grooming Tools icon
 A set of cat grooming tools will consist of combs for smoothing out mats and tangles, rakes for getting at knots in the undercoat, brushes to remove loose hair and clippers for those nails. Good tools make the job easier for you and enjoyable for your cat

 

 

 

"Alright, already... enough with the brushing!"

 

 

 

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Put these Whisker City Grooming Gloves iconon when your giving kitty a fluffy rub and you can groom her at the same time... she won't know the difference

 

 

 

 

"Let's see... this is Tuesday and it's bath day. No way am I going home today!!

 

 

 

 

 

Do not cut the pink area called "the quick," it will cause pain and bleeding Credit: Catscratching.com
Copyright: Catscratching.com

 

 

 

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Your cat doesn't like water? No problem with Pet Head Frisky Bubbles Waterless Foaming Shampoo for Cats icon

 

 

 

 

Yes, you can brush your cat's teeth, too. It's all part of cat grooming

 

 

 

 

Dental Kit

Kick off your cat's dental hygiene program with this Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats It includes a toothbrush, 'finger' toothbrush and malt flavored toothpaste. If kitty doesn't like the flavor, there are others available... like tuna, and who knows? Maybe shrimp scampi

 

 

 

 

"I think I'll hide out in here until they get this bath idea out of their heads"

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