Cat Grooming 101: How to Groom a Cat

If the thought of approaching your cat for their necessary grooming makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, we’re here to offer some guidance.

Felines are independent creatures and that is often a huge part of why cat owners adore their pets so much. Once you’ve had a cat for a while though, you’ll realise that their famous independence still requires some human assistance from time to time.

One of the coolest parts about cats is how they keep themselves clean. Just like big cats (lions, tigers, and leopards) cats have a self-cleaning system that involves their tongue and their flexibility. Being able to access most parts of their body makes their grooming regime far easier. Their little pink tongues are lined with rows of spines that they use to remove dirt and grime.

So, if cats are apparently the bee’s knees of self-grooming, why all the fuss to run a brush through their coat? Despite their natural cleanliness, your cat will need some assistance from time to time. If you have a kitten, they will need to learn grooming techniques from you to add to what they know from instinct. Older cats may need help reaching places their tight muscles and joints can’t reach.

Regular brushing invigorates oils in the skin, improving the condition of your cat’s fur. Regular grooming also means you can keep an eye on their health and notice any changes before they become serious. Those tongue spines may be fancy, but they don’t catch everything. Brushing will remove excess hair, dirt, and dead skin.

There are three main types of cat grooming that you can do from home and that shouldn’t cause too much distress (depending on the nature of your cat, of course). We’ll go through how to approach each one and why it’s important. Before you know it, you’ll have a cat grooming routine that’s sure to keep your kitty looking pretty.

1. Brushing

You should put aside time to brush your cat’s coat once a week. You can opt for less if you like but definitely not more. The way you brush your cat will also have a lot to do with how short or long their fur is. A cat with short hair can be brushed with a fine metal toothed comb to start and then ‘brushed up’ with a soft-bristle brush.

A long-haired cat may require more time and patience. It all comes down to knowing how and where your cat likes to be touched. You can start brushing a long coat with a soft brush that detangles big knots before you get stuck in. Then, detangle further with a fine mental toothed comb and a natural-bristle brush to finish off.

Here’s how we would handle the situation:

  • Create a relaxed, solitary environment for you and your cat.
  • Show your cat the grooming product. Raise it gently to their nose and face so they can see what they’re dealing with.
  • Felines like to be touched on the face and head so start gently here. Once you can sense they are comfortable, move to other parts of the body.
  • Brush in the direction of the fur.
  • Keep your brushing sessions short if you sense your cat is becoming uncomfortable and agitated.
  • Reward your cat with a treat after grooming to create positive associations with brushing.

Tip: your cat may be more open to a lazy brush whilst they’re having a catnap. Keep brushes near their nap spot for sneak brush attacks!

2. Bathing

If you hated the idea of grooming a cat before, you’ll hate it ten times more after you’ve had a cat-bath gone wrong. Contrary to popular belief, cats won’t always shoot up to 9 metres in the air as soon as they touch the water. They can be calm with their paws and body in the water – it’s being engulfed by water that they can’t bear.

The good news is that you only need to bathe your cat when they have come into contact with something very dirty, sticky or toxic. When you see your cat has gotten something smeared into her fur, you need to bathe her immediately. This is because cats will try and get themselves clean ASAP and you don’t want her to lick anything that will cause her harm.

Here’s how you can go about it:

  • You can’t leave your cat unattended so make sure you have everything you need: cat shampoo, towels, cat combs, and a jug or bowl to rinse.
  • Brush them before they get wet to get as much dirt and dead hair away as you can.
  • Fill your bath or tub with a small amount of water. It should not cover your cat’s entire body – not even close.
  • Ideally, you will only apply your cat shampoo to the area affected, always avoiding the head area.
  • Use a damp towel for their face and ears.
  • Gently rinse your cat. While they may be begging for it to stop, you need to ensure all the product is out of their fur.
  • Skip the hairdryer as they are probably anxious enough. Let them shake themself off on a dry towel before rubbing them down gently.
    3. Claw Clipping

    This side of cat grooming may be tricky for squeamish people. Remember that any grooming you don’t feel confident doing can and should be done by a vet or grooming professional. We clip cats’ claws (say that quickly ten times) so that they don’t become too long and snag on any objects. You also don’t need claws scratching your furniture or any other pets in the house.

    Here’s how to go about it: You’ll need clippers, a towel, and (this is a tip we got from Instructables.com and it’s great) styptic powder. The powder is there to quickly stop any bleeding if you cut too far and if you don’t have it lying around, use corn starch instead.

    It isn’t too difficult:

    • Be certain your cat is in a docile mood. Abort mission if not.
    • Place them sitting on your lap, legs stretched out in front of them. Feel free to try this position for a while before you start cutting their claws. Have the towel underneath your cat.
    • Take your cat’s paw in your hand and have your clippers in another. Squeeze their toes gently and one at a time to bring their claws out.
    • Cut a tiny bit of their claw off – only the clear tips, removing about 1-2mm. The cloudy part of their nail is where their nerve endings begin and will cause them serious pain and injury if clipped.
    • If your cat becomes distressed but you feel they can be calmed down, use the towel to cover their limbs or face to soothe them and protect you from their claws.

      Did you know that Oneplan Pet Parents get up to 25% discount and exclusive access to the Onepet Store? This means big savings on all grooming and accessories for your fluffy feline friend!

      Don’t miss out, sign up for Pet Insurance.

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