Cats are extremely hygienic creatures in their own right and are well known for taking care of their own grooming. Cats’ rough tongues are like brushes, getting rid of dirt and spreading essential oils across their hair. Despite their excellent ability to self groom, getting involved in your kitten’s grooming is vital because it will help cement the bond between you and provides an opportunity for you to check for signs of ill health. Grooming your kitten from an early age also ensures that your cat gets used to being handled regularly, which will make visits to the vet easier later in life
Benefits of grooming
Grooming not only stimulates the circulation and improved muscle tone but also minimises hairballs by removing loose hairs before they can be ingested by your kitten. It also stimulates the glands at the base of the hairs which waterproof the coat and smoothes down the fur to improve the coat’s insulating properties.
How to Groom a Kitten
How to groom your kitten depends on the breed and the length of the coat: it’s important to remember that your kitten’s coat will be shorter, softer and fluffier than an adult cat, but will grow coarser with time. It’s best to get your kitten used to grooming at an early age rather than waiting until they’re older, so they can learn what it feels like and learn to love it too. Always groom your kitten on a non-slip surface to make the experience more comfortable.
For owners of short-coated kittens, the good news is that they will only need a quick 'once-over' with a light brush or comb once a week. Use the opportunity to check your kitten’s ears, eyes and mouth as well as examining the skin for parasites, wounds or lumps and bumps.
Long-coated breeds will require daily attention with the right type of equipment – ask your breeder or a groomer for advice. First, offer the brush for your kitten to sniff, often they’ll rub their faces on the bristles, which is a positive step. After stroking your kitten for a while, start brushing gently, initially on the sides of their body, and after a couple of minutes stop brushing and start stroking again if grooming is a struggle. This will all help engage with your kitten.
When your cat is familiar with the sensation of being groomed, start to groom the belly, tail, ears and other sensitive areas, but be as gentle as possible, and keep the initial sessions very short.
General Examination of your Kitten
While your kitten is relaxed and enjoying the grooming experience, gently touch its paws and examine the claws. Check your kitten’s ears and gently open the mouth so you can examine the teeth and gums.
Once your kitten has learned the routine, take it to the table where you will want to groom your cat as an adult. Your pet will quickly associate this spot with being groomed and rewarded.