Cats are exceptionally clean animals and naturally take care of most of their grooming needs themselves. However, every cat needs attention and almost all enjoy being groomed by their owner. Getting involved in your cat's grooming can help grow the bond between the two of you, as well as giving you a chance to check for signs of ill health.
The benefits of grooming
In addition to helping you build a close relationship, grooming has a number of health benefits for your cat. Grooming helps to:
- Stimulate the circulation and improve muscle tone
- Minimise the size and quantity of hairballs in the stomach by removing loose hairs
- Smooth down the fur, improving its insulating properties and helping your cat stay warm
- Stimulate the glands at the base of each hair that help waterproof the coat
Cat grooming tips
Grooming your cat should be part of your regular routine, ideally from kittenhood. It’s best to buy some good-quality cat grooming tools that will last for the lifetime of your cat. Buy ones that are specifically designed for short or long-haired cats, as required. You will definitely need a brush, and possibly specific tools sold by groomers.
For short-haired cats, use a fine-toothed metal comb weekly. Also, a natural-bristle or rubber brush can help remove any dead hairs. Gently brush or comb your cat's hair, using strokes in the direction that the hair grows, and use the bristle brush to sweep up the coat in the direction of the head, and then smooth it down again.
To groom long-haired cats, brush daily with a brush or specially designed glove. Any knots can be gently teased out with your fingers, or they can be carefully cut off using blunt-ended scissors or grooming tool. If your cat does not enjoy being groomed, try offering food treats or rewards along with gentle encouragement to start with, and your cat should soon calm down.
What does healthy skin look like?
Grooming regularly helps you monitor the health of your cat’s skin. The skin should be pink or black, depending on your cat’s individual genetic history. It should be free from crusting, itching, scaling, black or white spots, masses or lumps. There should be no infected or inflamed areas. The coat should be smooth and shiny without broken hairs, bald patches or dandruff. Hair can be shed all year round, but you can expect to see more during moulting in summer and autumn.