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Setting a Schedule for Grooming Your Cat

Although it’s true that healthy cats take care of most of their own basic grooming needs, most cats can still benefit from the occasional help from their human. It’s fairly obvious that long-haired cat breeds can’t necessarily handle the care of their fur all by themselves, but since general grooming encompasses a myriad of things—like nail trimming and ear cleaning, to name a few—cats of all breeds and fur types and lengths need some grooming assistance from time to time. Here’s what you need to know in order to keep your cat properly groomed.

Cat grooming needs

Before you can settle on a proper grooming schedule for your cat, it’s important to understand exactly what needs to be done. Some of the most commonnecessary grooming tasks include:

Bathing: Cats are well known for their water aversion and self-bathing skills, but some may benefit from a human-assisted bath every 8 to 12 weeks.

This is especially true for cats who spend time outside and those whose own grooming skills have started to decline with age. Keep in mind, however, that at-home cat bathing can be a challenge and you should never force the issue if your pet  becomes upset or anxious. Have a veterinarian-approved cat shampoo ready to lather. Using a gentle showerhead or nozzle, work from the rear forward, taking care to avoid the face. Rinse your cat off quickly, then dry them with a clean towel. Never submerge your cat directly into a tub of water. And never use a hair dryer.

Brushing: One of the most important parts of keeping your cat properly groomed is a regular brushing and combing routine. Brushing and combing your cat regularly—daily for long-haired breeds and once a week for cats with shorter hair—with a cat brush and metal comb will help keep long hair from tangling and matting, and to distribute natural oils. Brushing may not remove the tangles and mats as easily as a metal comb may, and the comb can help prevent static from forming and making it harder to brush. Hairless cats can also be rubbed with a soft cloth to remove excess natural oils that may accumulate on their skin.

Nail trimming: Although cats naturally wear down  their nails by scratching, a behavior you can assist by providing cat scratch toys and scratch furniture, monthly trims are advised. This can cut down on furniture damage and instances of claws getting snared or caught on clothing and upholstery.

white cat scratcher

Accustoming a cat to regular nail trims when they’re young can set the tone for stress-free trims throughout their life. Start by holding your cat’s paw and gently squeezing the middle of the pad between your thumb and index finger until the claw extends. Place the trimmer perpendicular to the nail (not side to side) and trim quickly. Clip only the part of the nail that is beyond the quick to avoid blood vessels and nerves.

Ears, eyes and feet: Cats are curious and active animals by nature, so it’s important to inspect between their toes for any caught items, wipe debris from their eyes and clear their ears of buildup on a weekly basis.

Dental hygiene: Oral hygiene is extremely important for your cat’s overall health.  Aim to brush the outside surface of their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and veterinarian-approved toothpaste daily, and be sure to take your cat in for a yearly routine checkup that includes a check of their teeth. Between brushings and checkups, dental treats can also help support your cat’s dental health.

How to groom your cat

As with most things involving animals, the earlier you can accustom your cat to pet parent-assisted grooming the easier it will be to keep up with these tasks throughout their lives. 
Grooming done right can be an excellent way to bond with your cat, and it should never end with a panicked and scared animal—or pet parent, for that matter.
 
If you haven’t had the benefit of early intervention, speak with your veterinarian or a professional groomer for tips on what you can reasonably accomplish at home in between professional grooming sessions. Take things slowly, and don’t try to accomplish every task in one go. Allow your cat the freedom to retreat whenever they have had enough. Also remember that your furry friend may be more inclined to cooperate if you offer plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and affection both during and after a successful grooming session.
 
Since a little basic grooming will likely always be necessary at home, let a Petco store partner walk you through the right products for a successful grooming session based on your particular cat’s needs, or check out what’s available online.