Cats are definitely a pet favorite for individuals looking to have a low-maintenance feline friend around the house. They mostly focus on taking care of themselves, and the most you have to do to care for them is to provide clean food, water, and litter, with the occasional vet visit here or there. That being said, cats being pets that are easy to handle is actually a common misconception.
While most people out there assume that cats are low-maintenance pets that simply need a brush and a trim, in all honesty, a cat can actually benefit greatly from a simple check-up, cleaning and grooming regimen. However, most beginners wouldn’t know where to start with cat grooming. Even some long-term cat owners still can’t get it quite right.
Not to worry, we’ve made this comprehensive guide for you and your feline friends that will help you perform an easy health check-up by yourselves at home without requiring regular vet stops, while simultaneously grooming and cleaning your cat.
- Check-ups For Cats
- Trimming a Cat’s Claws
- How Do You Use the Clippers?
- Grooming A Cat
- Bathing a Cat
- Brushing the Teeth
Check-ups For Cats
What Is the Right To Check a Cat?
You can give your cat a quick glance over once it jumps onto your lap for naptime, but it is ideal to allocate a full check-up at least once a month so that you get a better idea of the problematic areas that need dealing with. This will help you find any potential issues sooner rather than later. However, you need to remember that at-home checkups cannot act as substitutes for regular vet visits or as professional replacements for medical care.
What Are the Main Areas of a Cat Checkup?
Take a look at your cat’s ears to find any signs of infection or uncleanliness inside like collected dirt, extra wax build-up, blood, junk, sores, pus, or redness. Another problem for cats is the infestation of ear mites. These rascals are difficult to see but generally give out a foul reddish-brown discharge in most cat ears, which generally increases the urge to scratch and results in more injuries and bleeding.
A small amount of wax in the ears is considered normal, but you should be wary if you find any unwanted odors or smells. If possible, it is best to clean your cat’s ears regularly. Make sure to check the edges of the ears as well for any bruises, marks, scars, scales, redness, lumps or lesions. If you find any of these signs, make sure to get your cat checked at the vet.
A cat’s eyes must be clear, shiny, and have no signs of redness, inflammation, or pus. Anyone of these signs could indicate your cat having a serious infection, especially during allergy season. Many breeds are prone to conjunctivitis like Persian cats, so the instant a sign is spotted you will need to have your cat looked at by a vet.
Cats typically have moist and cold noses during their healthy moments. A simple touch should show you if your cat’s nose is dealing with any problems like bumps, blockages or swelling. One thing to look out for is ulcers and wounds which are generally huge problems for cats with infections. Constant scratching and sneezing can cause these problems, and these issues can heal slower than others. Any signs of swelling and discharge will indicate an infection, so be vigilant!
Your feline friend should have white clean teeth without any problems of chipping. Keep an eye out for bleeding, ulcers or lesions on the gums. Normal gums should look pink and shiny without showing any excessive redness, swelling or bleeding.
When looking inside the mouth, make sure to check the tongue and cheeks for any scars, white plaques, redness, blood, ulcers, lesions or swelling. Most pets don’t have the best mouth odor, but any suspiciously foul smells should be checked immediately by a vet. A simple tooth brushing with brushes or fingers should help your cats avoid most of these problems.
An important thing to always check is your cat’s breathing. There should be even and easy breaths, showing no signs of wheezes or slow breathing. If your cat has difficulty breathing while moving around or during sleep, or the cat has breathing problems following any anesthesia or surgery, make sure to take it to your vet as soon as possible. Labored breathing should always be taken as an emergency.
6. Fur and skin
One of the best ways to keep track of your cat’s health is by checking on its skin and coat. If you see your cat focusing on a lot of chewing, itching or licking, you’re likely in need of a checkup. Comb through your cat’s fur to look for any knots, dirt, ticks, wounds, odor or infections. Any of these could require shaving or medical treatment, so try and get your cat to a vet for a full evaluation.
Any indoor cat owner knows how important it is to keep your cat’s claws trimmed, both for your cat’s health as well as your own. Inspect a cat’s claws to make sure they aren’t too long. If you’re well aware of cutting cat’s nails, trim them carefully, making sure not to injure your cat or put it in stress. If you don’t have any experience with nail trimming, get your cat’s claws professionally trimmed or declawed.
8. Body and motion
Always make use of petting time, focusing on any suspicious lumps, swellings or scars you may feel or see. Also, focus on your cat’s signs of tension or pain when you’re petting certain areas. If you notice your cat having problems walking, sitting or moving certain parts of the body, get a checkup.
Trimming a Cat’s Claws
Why is Claw Trimming Important For Cats?
Trimming a cat’s claws is needed to get rid of any sharp edges. Not only does it minimize the chances of damage to you or any furniture in the house, but it also makes playtime safer and more fun for you and your family.
Trimming is also beneficial for your cat’s health since getting rid of the sharp ends helps it avoid having the nails get stuck in any carpets, rugs, curtains or other furniture, which can end up causing pain and soreness for the kitty. You can either learn to trim nails by yourself or have a professional cleaner deal with the issue.
How Do You Use the Clippers?
When you have to choose the right clipper, make sure to get one with the appropriate size and quality either from a reliable or pet store or from your local vet. There is a difference between cat and dog clippers, so you should always make sure to get the right ones so that there is no problem during trimming.
The essential part of trimming is to make sure your kitty is used to the process. If kittens are exposed to trimming during an early age, then it is more than likely that they will have an easier time during trimming in the future.
That being said, if you’re only now starting with trimming for your now older cat, you’ll have to patiently take your time with the process. Start with the cat in your lap. Try and gently touch the paws and gently expose the nails. Do this as often as possible so that your cat gets used to the feeling.
When you’re touching the paws, keep an eye out for the cat’s reactions. If the cat shows any sign of adverse body language, like folding its ears back, swishing its tail or any other indication of tension, take a break and wait till the cat calms down before resuming touching its paws.
If your cat allows you to touch its paws without reacting negatively in any way, you can then proceed to gently press the paws to expose the cat’s nails for trimming. Again, you have to wait till the cat is comfortable with its nails being exposed. If there is no negative reaction, bring your clipper close to the paw and gently touch the nails.
Keep repeating this step with each nail to make sure your cat is comfortable and used to the idea. Finally, you can proceed to trim the sharp edge of the nail, making sure not to shorten the clip since this can result in bleeding. Try and clip the nail in one swift motion, rather than taking your time, since cats tend to get agitated very quickly with the process which can make trimming even more difficult.
You may need to take breaks between one or two nails being trimmed until the cat relaxes before continuing the trimming. Sometimes you may even have to wait another day to complete the trimming. Make sure not to leave any broken tips or sharp edges since these can grow improperly or get stuck and cause more problems.
Grooming A Cat
Now comes the main event – grooming. Grooming a cat minimizes the incidence of hairballs and also helps your cat avoid issues with knots or tangles. Moreover, it is a great way to check for any knits, injuries, bumps and skin lesions your cat may have, making it an effective way to monitor your cat’s health. Cats usually tend to use licking as the main way to groom themselves, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help out with the process. A good grooming routine can definitely help keep your cat clean and healthy.
When Should You Brush a Cat?
The ideal time to start brushing your cat’s hair would be during its early years as a kitten when it’s still too young to properly clean and groom itself. Mother cats are generally in charge of grooming their kittens by licking them, but if you have a single kitten, then it’s best to find the proper grooming routine to get the little one used to it for the future.
The same principle applies to older cats, who tend to lose their ability to groom themselves properly either due to fatigue, reduced vision, depression or other health problems. That’s why it’s important to continue your grooming regimen throughout your feline companion’s life to ensure it remains comfortable.
Longhaired breeds typically require regular brushing to avoid matting, and trimming hair can definitely be a big help especially during the summers. If you’re not comfortable with trimming hair yourself, get your cat’s coat maintained by a professional.
How Do You Brush a Cat?
If initiated gradually, gently and for short periods, grooming can be easy and fun for everyone involved, including your cat. Start at the head and neck, which cats usually enjoy. Then slowly make your way to the entire body, including the arms, legs belly and other hard to reach places.
For felines that aren’t comfortable with the grooming process, force or aggression tends to have the opposite effect and makes the whole session more difficult. Don’t come on too strong with the brushing. Try and brush each segment slowly and comfortably till the cat gets used to it.
You can even repeat sections that your cat enjoys to get it comfortable so that you can brush the other areas. If the little furball allows it, brush its favorite areas for longer periods of time so that it dozes off, making the remaining grooming procedure much easier.
Some Useful Grooming Tips:
- Begin the grooming regimen when they’re kittens, so that your cat can start accepting the grooming later on.
- Make use of alternate combs or brushes, so that you’re able to find the right one depending on hair length and type. You can find different types of brush, with hard, soft, pin or wire bristles. Soft brushes are great for beginners since they’re easier to use and make the cat comfortable too, so you should slowly work your way up to harder ones which are better for grooming.
- Stores your brushes near your cat’s favorite sleeping spots so you can sneak in a quick grooming session as soon as it’s nap time.
- Use regular toothbrushes to comb through touch spots like in between the nails or behind the ears.
- When brushing, start using slow strokes to relax your cat, and always use the soft end or type of brush to ease your cat into the process.
- Groom your cat in a quiet place free of distractions or irritating stimuli that could make your cat uncomfortable.
- Reward your cat with treats after the grooming so that they associate the procedure with positive feedback. A nice rub and some treats at the end of each grooming will go a long way in the future.
Bathing a Cat
Cats have tongues and teeth that they use to tackle brushing and licking their coats. That said, you will have moments where your cats require some additional help in order to get their cleaning down, such as in situations where they get in contact with some dirt or mess.
Bathing a cat is the all-time biggest struggle for any cat owners since felines are generally against water and baths. You’ll have to undertake this procedure with patience and skill. This will help make sure your cat is as comfortable and prepared as possible. So, make sure you have the right equipment on hand:
What Shampoo Should You Use?
Human shampoos are a big no-no when it comes to bathing cats. They can irritate their eyes and skin and cause excessive dryness. During a water bath, get a shampoo with deodorizer and cleanser that make use of natural components. For felines with dry skin, get a conditioning shampoo.
Some other varieties of shampoo that you can get will rely relying on your cat’s coat situation with regards to the presence of any ticks or fleas. You can choose anti-flea shampoos that are specially designed to tackle these problems. However, make sure to not use them regularly if there is no tick problem. They have strong chemicals that can damage your cat’s coat and skin. Dog shampoos can also have the same effect, so avoid them as well.
What Bathing Supplies Should You Have Ready?
The bathing essentials include:
- Your cat shampoo and/or conditioner
- A drying towel
- A brush or comb
- A rinsing container or jug
- A rubber mat/towel on the floor to avoid slippage
How Do You Bathe a Cat?
The first thing you want to do is to brush out any knots or dirt in your cat’s coat. Next, fill up the sink or tub with relatively warm water. Make sure it isn’t too hot or cold. Keep some treats on hand to make sure you can keep your cat comfortable during the bath.
If the cat tends to scratch or bite while during a bath, or if it shows signs of distress, stop the bath and call your vet for counseling. Sometimes certain pets require special attention by professional groomers or vets. This can be due to the fact that you may not be able to spot the cause of the distress.
Next, use a tiny amount of the cat shampoo and lightly rinse the dirt area with warm water. In case you’re bathing the entire body, only avoid the cat’s face, and shampoo and rinse the rest of the body. To clean the cat’s face, take a warm wet towel and wipe its face. Never splash water or soap on your cat’s face.
For rinsing the cat, fill your container with warm water. Avoid the eyes and ears as you slowly rinse the cat’s body. If need be, apply conditioner and then repeat the rinsing in the same way. You need to make sure that you have thoroughly rinsed since it will lick itself to dry off. You don’t want your cat ingesting any leftover shampoo or conditioner, especially if it’s flea shampoo.
Finally, place your cat on the rubber mat or towel to shake off and dry itself. You can help the process by using a drying towel to dry the cat as soon as possible. Most cats avoid hair dryers, but the winters can call for some quick drying to avoid any cold or infection.
Are There Any Water-bathing Substitutes?
Bathing a cat is hard. Many people can’t make the time or simply can’t handle the stress, so it’s perfectly natural to want to get your cat groomed and cleaned properly by a professional that can better deal with the process.
However, if you want to save up on cash, there are cat wipes available at certain pet shops and online stores. You can use these to clean cats without the need of any water. These wipes are also great for cleaning hard-to-reach places. This makes them a great option for after baths to make sure your cat is thoroughly cleaned.
Some Tips for Bathing Your Cat:
- See if your cat actually needs bathing. Cats can generally clean themselves and don’t need the extra stress.
- Make sure to have all the equipment and bath setups at the ready, to minimize your cat’s stress as well as the bathing time.
- Brush the cat before each bath to remove all the dirt.
- Focus on using vet-approved cat shampoos and products.
- Make sure the water temperature is ideal before bathing your cat.
- Rinse your cat thoroughly.
- Avoid using soap or water over the cat’s head.
- Use soothing gestures and tones when bathing your cat to keep it calm.
- Keep your cat in a warm area after a bath for a quick dry-off. If need be, use a hairdryer.
- Stay patient throughout the procedure.
- Old and young cats will require special attention during bath time.
Brushing the Teeth
Tooth-brushing for your feline friends is definitely an ideal addition in the grooming schedule. Bad breath isn’t your only concern. Dental diseasesare very common in cats and can be easily prevented with a simple routine brushing of the teeth.
If left without brushing, you could see your cat suffering through some pain or discomfort with eating, licking or even moving. So, brushing your cat’s teeth is the best way to cut down on costly vet visits in the future.
How Do You Brush a Cat’s Teeth?
The idea is to get rid of any bacteria or food in your cat’s mouth, teeth, and gums. Sometimes you can wrap gauze around your finger to pick out any gunk between the teeth, but animal toothpicks are also a viable option. You can get from these from any local pet shops or vets and you can get them in different types and sizes.
Fingertip brushes are generally ideal for cats. That said, you can try and find what is most suited for your little friend. You’ll find it surprising, but there is no need for any special toothpaste for your kitty. This is because they won’t have to deal with any cavities. If you do wish to use some toothpaste, get some from your vet.
For those minimalist pet owners, all you need issimple tap water. Try to avoid using baking soda since most cats don’t like the taste. They may start having an aversion to tooth-brushing altogether, and you need all the cooperation you can get.
Gently brush your cat’s teeth using circular motions, working on the gums. If there’s any fuss, try using a gentler approach try brushing slowly and calmly using soothing tones. Make sure not to get bitten. If your cat gets too aggressive, stop brushing and try again in a few hours or the next day.
How Many Times Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?
Ideally, you should brush your cat’s teeth once a day, every day. That said, if that doesn’t work for you, you can still try for a few times each week. Just remember, brushing teeth is more preventive than curative. If you see any signs of pain when brushing your cat’s teeth, or if your cat has problems eating, make sure to get your cat checked at the vet.
There you have it. This is the basic grooming guide that every cat owner can rely on own. Remember, make sure to keep your cat comfortable throughout. If you have any doubts, be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible. Your feline friend is an important member of the family. As such should have the same basic care as anybody else in the family. So, have fun grooming!