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Tips for Grooming Cats - Bathing, Brushing, & More

Updated on March 16, 2010
by mcwetboy
by mcwetboy

Grooming Cats

It's very important to groom your cat as it promotes good hygiene and health. By creating a regular grooming routine, your cat will be more comfortable with the regular grooming processes such as getting a bath, having it's coat brushed, getting his ears and eyes cleaned, having his toe nails trimmed, and brushing his teeth.

These are simple steps that we take daily to ensure our own health, so why not implement some of these techniques to keep our pets just one step healthier.

Bathing Cats

Generally, cats don't like water, so you want to make sure that you introduce your cat to water as a kitten, otherwise bathing your cat can be a very stressful process for you and the cat.

You don't want to bathe the cat all the time, as typically cats are pretty clean animals and are self-cleaners, but the occasional bath will help reduce greasy and dirty coats.

You want to experiment with different shampoo brands before you decide on the one that works best for your cat. The general rule is to stick with all natural shampoos that are cat and kitten specific, meaning you don't want to use your shampoo or a dog shampoo on your cat.

As for bathing your cat, you can follow the simple steps below.

  1. Start by filling your sink with lukewarm water. You want the sink about half way filled before putting your cat in the water.
  2. Use a clean cup to pour the clean water over your cat's body. Try to avoid getting water in your cat's eyes and ears, and never pour the water over your cat's head. Make sure that your cat's coat is completely saturated.
  3. Use a small dab of shampoo and lather the cat's coat. You want to make sure that you get deep into the roots, especially if your cat has a greasy coat.
  4. Leaving your cat in the sink, drain the dirty water and refill the sink with lukewarm water. Scoop the water onto the cat's coat, and keep rinsing until you are positive that there's not any residue left.
  5. Empty the sink and refill it with clean water as needed.

Although it is optional, you can add the conditioner to your cat's coat at this time, and re-rinse the coat.

You may also consider mixing up a half a cup of vinegar with 2 quarts of water to remove any residue from your cat's fur, and again rinsing with lukewarm water.

You want to make sure to towel dry your cat so that he's not running around soaking wet, as this can potentially increase risks of a cold. Yes, cats can get colds. :-)

Brushing Your Cat

Whether you've just bathed your cat or you're just trying to help aid shedding and mats, you'll want to use a good brush or comb, and depending on your cat's coat type, the type of brush or comb that you want to be different.

For long haired and thick coated cats, you may consider using a Greyhound comb, as they tend to go through matts pretty easily. You can usually fine two different sizes of Greyhound combs- the 7.5" and the 4.5" x 1" tooth- you'll want to purchase the 7.5" comb.

Slicker brushes are great to use for medium coated cats, and you can use rubber brushes for short haired cats.

The FURminator works wonders for thick coated cats that have a terrible shedding problems. The brush weeds out all loose hairs so that they don't fall all over your house.

De-shedding combs work well for medium and short haired cats to help alleviate shedding concerns.

Combing Through Matts

Matts are generally the result of improperly groomed cats and cats, especially during shedding season. They're typically the concern of longer haired cats.

You'll want to use the Greyhound Comb to work out a matt. Never clip matts with scissors as you can accidently slip and cut your cat's skin instead.

To work out a matt in your cat's fur, you want to hold the fur as close to the base as you can without pulling on the hairs, and using the comb with the other hand, pick at the matt gently. It will start to loosen and break apart, which will allow you to easily comb through the matt.

Personal Cat Groomers

Cleaning Your Cat's Ears and Eyes

Cleaning the Eyes

For cats with shorter muzzles and larger eyes, you may run into more tearing than usual. Usually, what will happen is the tears spill over into the lower eyelids instead of pooling into the tear ducts; when the tears come into contact with air, they turn brown, which stains the are below the eyes and creates a stick substance that can become uncomfortable for the cat.

You can use a washcloth or cotton ball soaked in lukewarm water to gently soften the eye gunk. Then go back and gently wipe the again with a clean cotton ball or clean area of the wash cloth to remove it

Cleaning the Ears

You want to use a pet safe ear cleaning solution. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and gently rub away large pieces of debris and dirt from the outer portion of the ear.

Then use a moistened Q-tip to remove the debris that's in-between the cartridge of the ear. Do not put the Q-tip down the cat's ear, try to stay just between the folds of the cartilage.

The tip is that you can always see the end of the Q-tip or cotton ball.

Trimming Your Cat's Nails

It can be a pain to trim your cat's nails, but it is a great alternative to removing the claws. Keeping your cat's nails kept short will potentially help protect your furniture, as your cat will not feel the need to scratch to trim his own nails.

When trimming your cat's nails, you want to, again start young, as it can be a stressful process.

You want to hold the cat between your body and less dominant arm. Use that arm to hold the cat's foot steady, and using your index finger, push on the center of the paw to push out your cat's nails

Using your more dominant hand, take the nail clippers and trim off the tip of the nail that curves down. You want to avoid clipping the quick, so if the nails are black just trim a little bit off the nail at a time.


  1. You may want to consider purchasing Quick Detecting nail clippers if the majority of your cat's nails are black.
  2. If you accidentally clip the quick, use a styptic pen or flour to stop the bleeding.

Brushing Your Cat's Teeth

Like brushing your own teeth, it's good hygiene to brush your cat's teeth as well. It will help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. This is a grooming process that, again, you want to start young; by creating a regular routine your cat will be less fussy when it's time to brush his teeth.

You want to purchase an all natural toothpaste formulated for cats. Like the shampoo, you don't want to use your toothpaste or a dog toothpaste for your cat. There are severe brands that offer poultry and fish flavor toothpastes, which your cat should acclimate better to.

If it's your cat's first time at brushing his teeth, you can prepare him by dipping your fingers into tuna water or some other flavored liquid that you cat will like. You'll want to gently rub his gums and teeth; repeat this for a few days before introducing the toothbrush.

An option step to get your cat used to the feeling of something in his mouth, would be to wrap your finger in gauze that you've put the flavored liquid on.

Once you've worked your way up to the toothbrush, whether it be a finger brush or a regular toothbrush, you'll want to let your cat lick the toothpaste off the tip. Then rub a little on your cat's gum line using your finger.

Once your cat is used to that, you'll want to use the toothbrush. You want to brush a few teeth at a time, adding more teeth as your cat become comfortable with the process. Start with the front teeth and gradually move back. You want to rub in a gentle circular motion.

Stop the sessions before your cat gets fussy.

And a good tip is to hold the cat or have someone else hold the cat, as I highly doubt he's going to just sit there while you try to brush his teeth.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am considering getting a cat, but I live in a one bedroom apartment in the city, so I'm not sure if it's a good idea? Life gets pretty lonely without a little companion!

    • RachelOrd profile image

      Rachel Ord 

      10 years ago from Palm Coast

      You continue to amaze me with quality info on pet care! I don't have any cats anymore, but I once had one that LOVED water. It was so strange, he wouold actually jump in the tub with you if he could get into the bathroom-then swim around! Also, the feline fantasy brush seemed to work well in between regular brushings to keep my cats fur well maintained. Thanks for all the tips

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Stacie, I'm pyschic I tell ya! lol. Yea I had that problem a few years ago when I boarded my dogs. You actually reminded me that I need to take the flea comb to the puppy. Ha

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      This hub was so timely because I got home last night and realized it was time to give the cats a bath again. Ever since boarding them last December, we've been having a small battle with fleas. Monthly baths, constant vacuuming, and montly topical applications are helping us win the war.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Susanna, thank you for your comment. Some short haird cats never really need baths and could get away with the waterless baths or baby wipes, but sometimes long hair cats do need baths, as do cats of any coat who are inside/outside cats.

      solarcaptain, cats need shots yearly, so if she hasn't had her yearly shots, you'll probably want to do that. I do agree cats are different and unique animals, which makes them an interesting pet. Ha. You may consider an all natural option to flea control versus chemical.

    • solarcaptain profile image

      mike king 

      10 years ago from california

      Good stuff, it reminds me of things I need to do. It's worth it though. I would be totally lost without me cat.

      I had to quit using that flea chemical. Either she is grooming or I am brushing. fleas are horrible in California.

      I 'll post a picture of othella soon as I'm not working 16 hours a day. I enjoy the posts about cats. they are so unique- I think, how beautiful, then she brings in a mouse and -well you know the rest. Not pretty.

      I was wondering if she needs a booster shot(s) She is 6.


    • profile image

      susanna jade 

      10 years ago

      Whitney - You are so prolific! I admire your determination and commitment to the writing process. I haven't washed my cats - ever! One is 8 years old, but I do "wipe her down" after she rolls in the soft dirt. I want to submerge her in some beneficial soapy water, but i need some gloves so she won't claw me to shreds! - Thanks for all your helpful posts!


    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney

      I may get another cat soon. I love them and dogs as well. Hate mossies and spiders.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks. :-) Yea when I had a cat way back when, I never really thought about grooming, but I was also much younger.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      Oh yeah, forgot in my last comment to say that I enjoyed reading this hub. People usually don't think about grooming their cats, but it is important to do it.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Jeanette, I hop this will help you out a bit.

      carib, definitely starting when the cat is younger will definitely reduce stress later on.

      Stacie, I agree. Bathing cats isn't like bathing a dog, where it's a regular deal. You should really only bathe a cat when it's super greasy or dirty. Thanks for the tip about treating long haired cats for hairballs after a bath.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      Cats tend to avoid getting wet because it is so much work for them to groom themselves after. I've learned from experience that it is good to treat my long haired cat for hairballs after he grooms himself after a bath. The short haired cat is fine though.

    • carib102 profile image


      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for this information. Can't stress enough the need to start this when your cat is a kitten though. I remember bathing my adult cats in the past and it is like going to war! Plus, you're the one who will end up with the scars :>)

    • profile image

      Jeanette M 

      10 years ago

      Great information, Whitney05. I'm just about to get a kitten and this will be helpful to know.


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