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Have you ever thought of cat grooming? Or failed at it miserably? Don't worry - all of us have. Cats are independent animals, therefore - whether it's helping themselves to a jar of treats or spending half the day grooming themselves to perfection - they’d rather not take your help. Despite their independent nature, cats can always do with a hand in their grooming routine. Besides, grooming isn't just for maintenance; it is also a great way to bond with your cat.
A cat's body is adept at grooming and maintaining a clean coat - their long tongues and flexible short spines remove dirt and loose hair from every inch of their bodies. That being said, cats that are often outdoors or those that are medium or long-haired do benefit from extra grooming. Moreover, grooming strengthens your cat's muscle tone and encourages their skin to secrete oils that give it that shine. It is similar to how we enjoy good head massages. When cats lick themselves, most of the loose hair forms hairballs in their throat and can often lead to choking. By helping them with grooming once in a while, you can guard the matting and prevent hairballs.
Also, if done correctly, the activity can enhance the bond between you and your cat.
Before you learn about how to groom a cat, it is essential to understand how they groom themselves. Have you felt the roughness on your cat's tongue? Ever wondered why it's so rough? Rough tongues help cats remove dirt and comb their fur, and since they use a lot of their tongues, they often cough up furballs. Moreover, their small spines allow them to be flexible enough to reach the tiny corners of their bodies. Yet, when there is so much to clean, they are quite likely to miss a spot! That's when we as cat parents need to help them out.
When cats are young, they are more capable of cleaning themselves as opposed to when they're older - their bodies get stiffer and they cannot reach certain areas that may require cleaning. If you have a short-haired cat then brushing them twice a week should be enough to avoid matting and hairball build-up. Cats with medium to long hair require brushing about 3-4 times a week. For cats, the matting is extremely uncomfortable and painful, so even if they don't show it, they are secretly thanking you for all the help with the grooming.
It is way easier to groom a cat that is relaxed, calm and happy. Before you attempt cat grooming at home, make sure your cat has already interacted with you and is comfortable in your presence. Because grooming involves touch, you must be aware of where your cat doesn't like being touched. Once you are aware of the sensitive parts, cat grooming becomes easier and less messy.
Bathing - Cats do not require baths unless they are sticky, smelly, or visibly dirty. In that case, schedule a bath when your cat is calm and for your protection, trim their nails before the bath. Soon after, brush your cat's hair to remove loose hairs and to get rid of mats. Use a faucet to spray them gently, making sure that water does not touch their eyes, ears or mouth. Apply shampoo working from head to tail, i.e. in the direction of hair growth. Thoroughly rinse your cat with lukewarm water and pat them down with a dry towel. You may wipe the face with a damp washcloth. At the end of the bath always reward them with treats.
Brushing - Hold out a brush and allow your cat to sniff and rub against it. Use a fine-toothed metal comb if your cat is short-haired and a steel comb if long-haired. Since cats enjoy being touched around the face, brush gently on the head and around the cheeks. Once a certain comfort level is achieved, move on to the rest of the body by combing in the direction of hair growth. If your cat is feeling uncomfortable, groom in short bouts. To remove knots, use your fingers or a damp cloth. Never use scissors. At the end of the brushing, reward them with a treat.
Dental Care - Sometimes a cat's oral health may need looking into. Cats with poor oral health develop diseases like gingivitis and stomatitis, which is why it is crucial to monitor your cat's oral health as a part of grooming. If you see symptoms such as dark lines along gums, pus, excessive drooling, loose teeth or ulcers along the inside of the mouth, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Eye Care - To check for healthy eyes, shine a light near your cat's eye and make sure that the area around the pupils is white. Roll down the lower eyelid to check its colour. It should be a healthy pink.
Nail care - Remember to check your cat's nails weekly. Any in-growth must be shown to the veterinarian. Cat nail clipping needs to be done carefully and gently - make sure you are focused and calm. To trim your cat's nails, gently press the paw with your thumb and index finger. Gently trim the transparent tip of the nail, making sure to avoid the pink part of the nail. This is where the nerves and blood vessels run and cutting it would be very painful for your cat. However, an accident like this can be treated with silver nitrate or a veterinary visit. Lastly, check for cuts and wounds on the paw pads and soreness between toes while trimming nails.
Now that you know how to groom a cat the right way, they will thank you for it every day. Remember, a clean cat is a happy cat!
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