Cat Grooming

You already have all of your supplies, but you will also need to do some regular grooming and health checks on your cat to be sure that they are healthy and functioning well. If you have a shorthaired tabby, you will only need to bathe your cat occasionally. Some cats keep themselves so clean that baths just are not required. Longhaired cats will need to be bathed more frequently. However, cats will require some brushing to keep the coat looking smooth and to prevent knots and mattes.

Brushing the Coat
Even though baths are just completed occasionally, you will find your cat needing a good brush more often.

Shorthaired cats: When grooming your shorthaired cat, you need to begin by brushing along the cat’s back in the direction of the fur. You then need to go through the coat with your medium-toothed comb. Then take a piece of chamois and smooth the coat with it. Brushing should occur at least once a week.

Semi-long coated cats: Lightly spray a fine mist of room-temperature water over your cat. Brush your cat in the direction of the fur. Be sure you pay close attention to the tail, as there could be some fecal matter stuck. If so, use a damp flannel cloth to remove the matter. If you find a knot, hold the clump of fur in one hand and carefully brush or comb out the knot. If you are unable to comb out the knot or matte, you can cut it out with a pair of round-ended scissors. After brushing, you can use a medium-toothed comb to pick up any stray hairs. Brushing should occur two to three times per week.

Long coated cats: You will need to begin by spraying a light mist of water over your cat, and then begin brushing in the direction of the coat. Be sure you are using enough pressure to get down into the coat without scratching your cat. Then slowly comb through the coat with the wide-toothed comb to get out any last knots or mattes. Be sure to work through the coat slowly, so when you come across a knot you do not hurt your cat by pulling too hard. If you come across a knot, hold it in one hand while slowly working it out with the comb or brush. If you have a problem with the knot, you can cut it out using round-tipped scissors. After you get all the knots out, you can then comb your cat with the narrow-toothed comb. Then brush against the lie of the coat, as this will give your cat a fluffy appearance. Long-coated cats require brushing on a daily basis.

Bathing
If you do decide to bathe your cat after you groom its coat, then you will need to first prepare yourself mentally for the bathing process. Really. Bathing a cat is almost never easy, and it requires much determination and confidence. Your cat will push you to your limit when bathing, so you need to have your mind set and let your cat know you are boss when bathing him or her.

Once you are ready, you need to be sure the coat is free of any knots. If the coat is knotted, a bath will only make it worse. Then you need to prepare the bath. In most cases, you should try to use a sink that has a nozzle. You can use the tub, but you may find that it is more difficult, as your cat will have more wiggle room.

Put a plastic mat in the bottom of the sink and fill the sink to about three inches. Use warm water, but be sure it is not too hot. You do not want to scald your cat. Make sure all of your supplies are close at hand. You do not want to have to leave your cat in the sink to go get something. It will not stay there. You should have your shampoo, conditioner, and a towel.

Before you put your cat anywhere near the water, place cotton in its ears. If your cat has been bathed before you may start to see signs of panic. Remember…it is bath time…not matter what. Hold onto your cat in a firm manner and place it in the sink. If your cat is having a fit, you may need to hold him or her by the scruff of the neck.

Take the nozzle and wet your cat, be sure to get the entire coat wet all the way down to its skin. However, try to keep as much water as possible away from your cat’s eyes. Work in the shampoo, following the directions on the bottle. Keep the shampoo out of your cat’s eyes. Then let the water out of the sink and rinse your cat. Be sure to get out all of the shampoo. Then follow the same procedure for the conditioner. Rinse well.

When you are done you will need to wrap your cat in a towel and offer it a lot of love. Be prepared for your cat to be quite angry with you for a while, though. They really do not take well to water, and they will resent any bath you give them. Rub your cat down to remove excess water, and offer your cat a nice, warm place to dry off. If you have a semi-coated or long-coated cat you can try to use a blow dryer, though cats usually do not take well to the hair dryer either, so keep the setting on low. Then take a deep breath and put off bathing your cat again for as long as you can! You will want the break.

Teeth
Cats use their teeth for hunting, and wild cats teeth are kept clean by chomping away on bones and such. In your home, dry food will suffice to help remove plaque and tartar. There are even specialized treats that promote dental health. However, it can help to brush your cat’s teeth a couple of times per week. If you have an adult cat that is not used to brushing, you may find that you have to take it slow, but if you start your kitten early, you will find that they get used to the process fairly easily.

You need to use a specialized toothbrush that will fit easily in your cat’s mouth. There are also rubber finger brushes available, too. You will also need to purchase a special toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on your cat. It is not healthy for them, because they will swallow the paste. Even people are not supposed to swallow human toothpaste. Instead, cat toothpaste is safe and meat flavored, making it more enjoyable for your cat.

Get your cat relaxed and then begin stroking its cheek. Most cats really enjoy this, and they like putting their scent on you. Then gently lift one side of your cat’s mouth and gently begin brushing the teeth. When you have brushed the entire mouth, be sure to reward your cat with a treat.

Nails
Cat’s nails are not high maintenance. As long as your cat has a scratching post, they will easily be able to remove layers of the nail as needed. However, indoor cats can sometimes neglect the need to scratch, and the nails can grow excessively long. If you see the nail beginning to curl, you may need to trim it. A guillotine nail clipper will work best. You will need to take your cat’s paw and apply gently pressure on the toe. This will allow you to see the full claw. Then clip just the end of the nail. Be careful to not clip into the “quick,” which is the dark line that runs down the claw. This is a vein that will not only bleed profusely if you clip it, but it will be painful for your cat. You may want to keep some styptic powder on hand to stop be bleeding, just in case.

The Daily Exam
As your cat curls up with you each evening, you should non-chalantly give your cat a once-over. Your cat may not like to be poked and prodded, but if it feels like you are just paying him or her some extra attention, they will eat it up. You should check the fur for any parasites like fleas. Most parasites are noticeable, but fleas leave black specks in the fur. Also, run your hands through your cat’s fur to make sure it is healthy. Be sure your cat’s skin is healthy with no cuts, scabs, or sores. Then look to be sure the nipples look healthy with no discoloration or discharge. When you run your hand down your cat’s spine, you should be able to feel it, but there should be no protrusions. Check the tail for any lumps.

As you change the litter box, you will need to look at the feces and urine for any discoloration or diarrhea. Also, if your cat is overweight, you need to weigh him or her once a week to be sure you are making progress on any diet.

Check your cat’s eyes. Are they bright and clear? Be sure you do not see the third eyelid. Your cat should have dry and clean eyes, though some flat-nosed breeds do have a tendency to produce more tears. You will need to clean your cat’s eyes regularly if that is the case to avoid any irritation. There are some gentle pads available at the pet store, or you can use a piece of moist cotton to wipe away the buildup. Be sure though that the color and consistency of the tears have not changed.

Next take a look at your cat’s ears. Look inside to be sure the ears are clean, with no wax buildup, irritation, or any black “dirt-like” substance. If there is an excess of wax or the dirt-like substance, your cat could have ear mites. Your vet can give you a treatment that will get rid of any ear mites. Also, if you have a white cat, he or she could be prone to sunburn. Be sure to keep an eye on the tips of your cat’s ears.

Getting Ready for the Show
Regular grooming will keep your cat in condition for the show prep, and will get him or her used to the detailed grooming needed to be of show quality. The coat is an important part of the judging process, so you will need to be sure the coat is clean and well groomed. If you have a longhaired cat, you may want to use a grooming powder a few days before the show so that your cat’s coat seems huge. However, avoid grooming powders for two days before the show, as any sign of grooming powder will result in your cat losing points. Be sure to check the ears so that they are clean, make sure there is no staining around the eyes, and give your cat’s teeth a good brushing. Also, check the claws to make sure they are trimmed.