How To Guide to Grooming Your Cat

Cats often have an undeserved reputation of being difficult to work with and rather aloof and uncaring about attention from people. When cats are routinely groomed and handled they are affectionate and very comfortable with the process, although each will have their own individual tolerance level for various grooming procedures.

All cats will benefit from at least once a week grooming from their human companions. Grooming on a regular basis will prevent any tangles and mats in the coat and will also help your cat’s coat stay shiny and luxurious looking for life.

Hair Types

You will find that most cats have three different types of hair that make up their coat. The longer, coarser and shiny outside hairs are called the guard hairs. Then, under the guard hairs and closer to the body there are two different types of inner coat hairs know as secondary hair. The slightly longer and heavier secondary hair is known as awn hair and it is also found with the soft, dense looking shorter secondary hairs known as down.

Different breeds will have different ratios and combinations of the hair types. On short-haired cats the guard hairs and secondary hairs may be less differentiated whereas on long-coated breeds it will be very noticeable.

Grooming Tools

Based on the hair and coat type of your cat you will need slightly different grooming tools. For short-haired cats a flea and tick comb and a medium to soft bristle brush is a good starting point for grooming. However, a grooming mitt is a wonderful addition to your supplies as you can literally stroke the mitten along the cat’s body and massage and groom at the same time.

For long-haired cats you can also use the flea comb, but you should also have a wide toothed grooming comb or a wide bristle brush with rubber or stiffer plastic bristles. You may also need a pair of blunted ended scissors to cut out any mats in the coat, but this is only used if you cannot untangle the hairs.

Getting Started

Unlike with dogs, it is always the best idea to groom your cat when he or she is comfortable, relaxed and open to the idea and not when you decide it is a good idea. Start by petting your cat while they are on your lap or on their favourite place to relax using long strokes down the body in the direction of hair growth. For long-haired breeds use this time to gently run your fingers through the guard hairs and remove all tangles that you find.

Then, using the bristle brush or the grooming mitt, repeat the process starting at the back of the neck and making full strokes down the length of the body with the direction of hair growth. Go slowly and monitor your cat’s tolerance level, stop and move to another area if the cat is becoming irritated with attempts to remove a tangle, you can always come back once he or she is calm and relaxed again.

Little Extras

Use a soft, clean slightly moist cotton cloth to gently wipe the very short hair of the face, including the eyes and around the mouth. Look into the ears to ensure there are no waxy deposits and also check the eyes for any sign of tearing or discharge.

By getting your kitten into a grooming routine he or she will grow into a cat that enjoys the process. Just go slow, take your time, and watch for twitching, tail lashing and squirming behaviours that signals your cat has had enough.

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