Sometimes your cat’s too dirty for just a tongue bath. It’s also up to you to trim their nails and clean out their ears, and regular brushing cuts down on hairballs. With information from ASPCA, Love That Pet, and Petfinder, here are 4 tips for grooming your cat at home.
#1 – Nail trimming
If your cat has never tolerated having their nails trimmed, you may need to start from scratch. (Get it?!)
When they’re calm, such as after a meal or play time, place them in your lap and massage the feet, one paw at a time. It may be one toe at a time until they learn to associate you touching their feet with the pleasure of a foot massage instead of the terror of a nail trimming. Keep treats handy!
Once your cat is used to having their feet massaged, get them used to the sound of nail trimming by using the clippers to cut a spaghetti noodle near their foot. Once they’re used to the foot massage and the sound, trim one or two nails at a time until your cat tolerates having them all trimmed. Only trim the white part of the nails – cutting the pink will result in pain and blood.
#2 – Brushing
Short-haired cats should be combed at least once a week to remove loose hair. Long-haired cats need to be combed several times a week to prevent painful tangles, called mats. A metal comb works well for both coats.
Corn starch rubbed into small mats can loosen them up and make them easier to brush out. Severe mats should always be shaved out by a professional groomer, as cats have very thin skin that’s easy to cut.
#3 – Bathing
Occasionally, you may need to bathe your cat. Don’t panic! If you’re stressed about bathing your cat, they’ll pick up on it and become even more nervous.
Start by putting a rubber mat in your sink or tub so your kitty has traction. Add 3-4 inches of lukewarm water and have a sprayer or pitcher handy for rinsing your cat. You’ll also want to make sure the cat shampoo is within reach before you start!
Avoiding the eyes, ears, and nose, gently wet your cat with the sprayer or pitcher. Lather in the cat shampoo, then rinse well. Any residue left in your cat’s fur will be irritating and could cause skin problems.
Once your cat is thoroughly rinsed, dry them with a towel. If they will tolerate the dryer, use it on the lowest, coolest setting.
#4 – Faces
Unscented baby wipes are a great way to wipe your cat’s face and ears before or between baths. Be sure not to dig too deep inside your cat’s ears.
With lots of patience and treats, grooming can actually be bonding time with your cat, and it gives you the opportunity to look for problems that may require a vet visit.