Bathing and Grooming Your Cat

Since cats are generally very good about keeping themselves clean, they don’t often require bathing. Cats usually don’t appreciate being bathed, but the occasional bath may be necessary for the following situations:

  • Your cat’s coat is dirty or greasy.
  • His fur is matted and ungroomed.
  • A poisonous substance is in your cat’s fur.
  • Your cat needs a flea, tick, and lice dip.
  • Your cat is going to be in a cat show.

Many long-haired cats are susceptible to matted fur and hairballs. Matted fur can become contaminated with feces and may damage the skin. Cutting mats out should be done only by an experienced groomer as you could quite easily cut your cat’s skin. If your cat’s fur is severely matted, your best course of action is to contact a veterinarian.

How to Bathe Your Cat

As you may already know, most cats do not like water and may struggle when you try to bathe them. The following tips will help make bath time a less stressful occasion for both of you.

  • Bathe your cat in a sink or plastic tub. This is less threatening than a large bathtub.
  • Provide a rubber mat to prevent your cat from slipping.
  • Pre-adjust the water temperature and lower your cat into an empty tub before filling it with water. This works better than attempting to lower your cat into standing water.
  • Gently wet the entire coat to the skin, being careful to avoid the eyes and ears.
  • Use a shampoo product that is specifically labeled for cats, since some dog products are lethal to cats.
  • After you’ve lathered shampoo into your cat’s coat, be sure to completely rinse out all traces of shampoo. A gentle spray attachment is the easiest to use for this.
  • Gently towel your cat dry and carefully comb her fur.

Give your cat plenty of love and attention before and after her bath. This will build trust and help your cat relax. She’ll remember the experience when the next bath is due.

Grooming Your Cat

Many people are fascinated by cats’ grooming habits. When cats groom, they try to reach every part of their fur with their tongue.

While self-grooming keeps your cat’s coat clean and soft, it also performs other vital functions for your feline:

  • It removes dead hair and skin.
  • It stimulates blood circulation
  • It tones up muscles.

Cats generally don’t need to be groomed by their owners, although cats can benefit from frequent brushing as well as social interaction.

Shorthaired Cats

Shorthaired cats don’t need as much grooming as their longhaired companions. As mentioned, frequent brushing has its rewards. Remember the following when grooming:

  • Many shorthaired cats like being brushed with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Avoid scratching your cat’s skin by brushing too hard.
  • You may wish to rub your cat with a cloth after brushing. This will help bring out the natural color and shine in her coat.

Longhaired Cats

Even though longhaired cats groom themselves, frequent inspection will help you determine when you should assist them. This will prevent them from developing matted fur and skin problems.

The area around the anus should be kept trimmed to prevent fecal material from attaching to the fur, as this is a prime source of bacteria leading to skin irritation. Mats around the perianal area can also absorb urine, another potential skin irritant.

To groom, a longhaired cat uses the following guidelines:

  • Use a wide-toothed comb to remove mats and dirt.
  • Remove dead hair with a wire brush.
  • Brush talcum powder on your cat’s coat to separate the hairs.
  • A soft toothbrush will help you brush gently around your cat’s face.
  • Praise your cat often during the grooming process and take frequent breaks if your cat becomes upset.

Trimming your Cat’s Nails

Cutting your cat’s nails can seem daunting, but after doing it once or twice you’ll find the task quite simple.

To trim your cat’s claws, press his paw gently so the whole length of each claw is exposed. Using a quality nail trimmer designed for use on cats, carefully cut just the tip of the nail avoiding the quick (the pink area). If you’re unsure of where the quick is, hold your cat’s paw up to the light. You’ll to see the portion of the nail that you can safely clip without nicking the quick.

If you have any questions about trimming your cat’s claws or feel uncomfortable doing it, ask your veterinarian, veterinary technician or groomer to show you how.