Most cats take real pride in their appearance, spending almost half their waking hours preening themselves to perfection. Being independent creatures, cats are keen to look after themselves, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lend a hand in their pampering routine.
Grooming your cat plays a big part in caring for your pet and regular maintenance will mean your cat looks great and feels great too!
As well as helping to keep your cat looking beautiful, regular cat grooming allows you to spend quality time bonding with your pet, and gives you the opportunity to check their body condition and spot any unusual signs of health problems, such as lumps or bumps.
The benefits of cat grooming
Cat grooming might seem superficial, but while your cat is beautifying themselves or being brushed by you, they enjoy other benefits too:
- Circulation is stimulated
- Muscle tone is improved
- Fur is smoothed down for better insulation
- Glands at the base of the coat are stimulated to waterproof the fur
- Sebum is spread evenly which helps to waterproof and protect the coat and skin
- In hot weather, the saliva they spread during grooming helps to keep your cat cool
How cats groom themselves
If your cat has ever tried to show their affection with a fond lick, you’ll know that they have rough tongues. This is because their tongues are covered in lots of tiny bristles, which help them to comb out dirt and loose fur from their coats - much like the hairbrushes that we use.
As cats use their mouths a lot during grooming, they often swallow strands of hair during the process. This can cause them to cough up fur balls – this is quite normal, so don’t worry. You can help to reduce the amount of fur they shed, and therefore minimise fur balls, by helping your cat with their grooming with a gentle brush.
Most short haired cats are very good at grooming themselves – longer haired cats will need a little bit of extra assistance when cat grooming. After all, they have a lot of fur to clean, so may miss a spot!
As they age, cats can get stiff so they might not be able to easily reach to clean some areas. Therefore, regular cat grooming is an important part of your caring routine throughout the whole of your cats’ life.
Grooming a cat from their younger years allows you to build a strong bond through physical contact, and create a shared level of trust between both of you.
As shorthaired cats are quite capable of grooming themselves, a brief brush once a week should be enough to spend time with them whilst maintaining their coat, while longhaired cats will benefit from a cat brush once a day to avoid matting, knots and excessive fur ball build up.
Matting can be very uncomfortable and even painful for cats, so your help will definitely be appreciated – even if they don’t show it at the time!
How to groom your cat
Grooming can be a long or short task, depending on the breed of cat you have and their hair type. To make sure your grooming sessions run smoothly, make sure you have all the correct equipment and a designated grooming area. Take a look at our top grooming tips for more information.
Grooming a kitten
When you first welcome a new kitten home, it is common to wonder whether they need grooming or whether to wait until they are a little older. It can be difficult to know what your kitten needs in terms of basic grooming and how to set up a suitable schedule. However, the sooner you get started, the better.
Take a look at our handy guide on all things kitten grooming to find out exactly how to do it, and when to get started.
Why do cats overgroom?
You may notice your cat overgrooming themselves, more often than not this may be due to a change in their environment which is stressing them out. If you notice your cat overgrooming, and allow this to continue this can cause skin inflammation, sores or hair loss. In extreme cases a cat might even start to bite areas of skin.
Overgrooming can also lead to them swallowing a lot of hair, which turns into hairballs. A cat hairball is a collection of dead hair and digestive juices that have formed in your cat’s stomach.
This is why grooming your cat is important, especially during malting seasons. If you want to learn more about cat overgrooming, what to do, and how to care for it, take a look at our handy guide.
Looking for more advice on caring for our cat? Take a look at how to care for cat allergies at home, next.