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How To Groom a Cat

Cat owners can attest that their cat will groom itself daily, often multiple times in one day. Cats are well equipped to keep themselves clean, given their tongue and teeth are excellent tools. So do cats need baths? Basically, yes! Knowing how to groom your cat is not only important for when it gets into an especially dirty situation, but grooming your cat is an opportunity for you to check your pet for any infections, bumps or anything else that may come up.

Getting Your Cat Comfortable With Grooming

Whether you just got a kitten or have had a cat for some years, getting your cat comfortable with being handled and groomed is going to take time. Be sure to approach every grooming attempt with patience. Getting angry or mad means the cat will only associate negative feelings with grooming and may never become comfortable with it. As you begin, try to focus on getting your cat to associate positive feelings with each step in the grooming routine. You can do this by giving your cat treats, praise and lots of pets or cuddles as you go through each step. Also, it is important to do the grooming when your cat is in a relaxed state. Try to groom your cat after it eats or exercises. You can also play with your cat before grooming to wear it out. When you start, groom your cat in short sessions. You may not be able to thoroughly clean your cat, but that’s okay! It’s all about getting your cat comfortable with these new sensations. Finally, groom your cat in a distraction-free area. If your cat never gets used to grooming, you will need to take it to a professional, and that may include sedating your cat so that the groomer is able to do his or her job.

The Ideal Cat Grooming Routine

To keep your cat healthy and clean, your grooming routine should include baths, brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming. The frequency of each of those activities varies by cat but should generally follow this timeline:

  • Baths: As needed
  • Brushing: Once a week for short-haired cats, and once a day for long-haired cats
  • Ear Cleaning: Once a week or as needed
  • Nail Trimming: Once every 10-14 days
  • Even if you don’t plan to follow a strict grooming routine, checking your cat’s eyes, ears, paws, teeth and coat every week is strongly recommended.

For every grooming activity, we strongly recommend using cat/pet specific products and tools. While you can use some human products on your pet, it is safer to use solutions that are made for your pet and can treat common concerns. We carry a great selection of some of the best cat shampoos including no-rinse waterless shampoo.

How To Give a Cat a Bath

  1. Before giving your cat a bath, you should consider trimming its nails. This can reduce the risk of getting clawed or scratched during the bath.
  2. Start by brushing out your cat, making sure to remove any dirt, loose hair and knots or mats. Take this time to also feel its body for any unusual bumps, scratches or anything else that may cause concern. Consult your vet if you find anything.
  3. Place a rubber mat in the tub or sink and fill the sink with just a few inches of lukewarm water. Cats hate water, so you want to avoid overwhelming yours with a tub filled with water.
  4. Using a cup or spray attachment, rinse your cat from head to tail, avoiding its face.
  5. Gently massage cat shampoo into its fur and again, avoid the face, especially the eyes, ears and nose.
  6. Rinse thoroughly.
  7. Take a wash cloth and gently wipe the cat’s face. Unless it is really dirty, you can do this just once and quickly.
  8. Wrap your cat in a towel to dry it off. If it doesn’t mind, you can also use a blow dryer on the lowest setting to help speed up the dry time.
  9. If your cat has long hair, give it a nice brushing to prevent matting.
  10. Reward your cat with a treat and cuddles!

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How To Clean a Cat’s Ears

  1. Before you begin cleaning, examine your cat’s ears for anything abnormal. Both the inner and outer ear should have a light to pale-pink color with no redness or swelling. If you notice discharge, redness, swelling, excess wax or odor, consult your veterinarian.
  2. Take a clean cotton ball and apply cat ear cleaner to it. Gently wipe the inside of your cat’s ear, being careful not to rub in any dirt. You want to try and lift dirt away.
  3. Be sure not to use excess cleaner. In the event you use too much, simply wipe it away. DO NOT clean the ear canal as this can lead to infection.

How To Trim a Cat’s Nails

  1. As with other grooming activities, start by examining the area you are about to work on. Look at your cat’s paws, nails and pads and in between each toe. If you notice anything stuck, remove it with tweezers and clean any cuts. If the paw looks infected, take your cat to the vet right away.
  2. To introduce your cat to nail trimming, start with the cat on your lap and gently massage each paw pad. If it quickly removes its paw, keep hold of the paw but pull it back and then try again. As the cat gets comfortable with its paws being touched, move on to gently pressing each toe so that the nail is extended. Again, take this slow and let the cat get used to it before moving on.
  3. Once the cat is comfortable with its paws being handled, introduce it to the nail clippers. You can start by leaving a treat on top of the clippers so as the cat investigates the clippers, it is rewarded.
  4. Next, get your cat comfortable with the sound of clippers by clipping a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Again, use positive reinforcement as you do this.
  5. Now it is time to bring it all together. With your cat on your lap turned so that it faces away from you, start by trimming the short tip of a nail. Quickly cut the tip and let go of the paw. Avoid cutting too close to the little pink part of the nail, which contains nerves and blood vessels. If you cut this, it can be very painful for your cat. At first, only trim two nails each session, then work your way up as your cat gets used to the process.
  6. Try to trim your cat’s nails often so it can get used to the sensation. The more you stick with it, the easier it will become.