When you take good care of yourself, you clearly do more than shower and brush your hair. You probably also put on deodorant, clean your ears, shave, care for your nails, and scrub the calluses off your feet now and again.
And while proper pet grooming isn't quite as intensive, it does involve more than regular brushings and baths. You also need to clean your kitten's eyes, ears, and teeth. Here's what you need to know.
The first step is to start gently handling your kitten's mouth, ears, and head in short sessions building up to a full cleaning session. Learn where your cat's sensitive areas and treat them with special care. Praise her and offer her treats while she's getting used to being handled and when you do the complete grooming. Most cats will cooperate once they know they have nothing to fear. Then it's just a matter of regular maintenance.
Out of Sight
All cats can have periodic discharge at the inner corners of their eyes. To clean your pet's eyes, simply moisten a cotton ball or washcloth with warm water and gently remove any discharge. A moistened baby toothbrush is gentle enough to remove dried debris from hair near the eyes.
If you notice a lot of discharge or if it's thick and greenish or yellowish, call your veterinarian. These signs could indicate an eye irritation known as conjunctivitis, or an infection.Listen Up
Check your kitten's ears once a week. Your veterinarian or local PETCO can provide the appropriate ear cleaner for your cat. Follow the product directions for use and never insert anything into her ear canal.
If your cat's ears smell bad, have a discharge, appear red or inflamed, or your cat repeatedly shakes her head or paws at her ears and they are sensitive to your touch, she could have an ear infection or ear mites. Call your veterinarian if you see any of this.Grin and Brush It
Periodontal disease can be as big a problem for your pet as it can be for you, so make a daily tooth brushing part of your feline friend's routine. However, before you get started, make sure you both feel comfortable with the tooth brushing process.
Get your kitten used to having her mouth handled by gently massaging her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day; it may be helpful to dip your finger in tuna water or chicken broth. Gradually move into her mouth until you can massage her gums and teeth. This adjustment may take several weeks, so be patient.
Once she is comfortable with this routine, you can introduce a piece of gauze (again, dipping it in tuna water or chicken broth may help) and follow the same steps as above. When your kitten seems comfortable with the gauze, you can change to a toothbrush designed for cats, a dental sponge or pad. You can let your cat lick something tasty off the item you are going to use to help her get used to the new texture.
Only use toothpaste formulated for cats. Never use human toothpaste; cats can't spit and the toothpaste will upset your cat's stomach if she swallows it.
Using circular or back-and-forth motions, brush the surfaces of your kitten's teeth and gums next to her cheeks. This is where most of the tartar and plaque accumulate. Start slowly. She may only tolerate a few teeth being brushed in the beginning. When you are done, you can wipe her teeth with a clean, damp cloth.
Your kitty may resist letting you clean the inner surfaces of her teeth. Don't force the issue; very little tartar accumulates there anyway.
Besides brushing her teeth, you can help keep your kitten's pearly whites shiny by choosing a dry food and offering her plaque-fighting treats.
Always wash your hands before and after handling your cat's mouth.