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Grooming, whether batheing or just brushing, is healthy for your pet for many reasons. It also helps strengthen the human-animal bond while allowing you to keep a close eye on your dog's or cat's physical condition to prevent small problems from turning into larger ones. Whether you do all the grooming yourself or take your pet to a professional groomer or veterinarian for certain procedures, here's what you should know to keep your pet clean and healthy.
Cat Grooming Basics
For the most part, a healthy cat will take care of grooming herself. In fact, cats are fastidious about cleanliness! But there are specific things you can do help her stay in tip-top shape.
Brushing: Regular brushings will help keep your cat's fur and skin healthy. For short-haired cats, a weekly brushing will suffice. For longer-haired cats, you might need to plan for a daily brushing to prevent painful matting. Brushing with a metal comb will loosen the hair and help break up any clumps. Follow that with a rubber brush to collect the hair. Be very gentle with your cat and stop brushing if she becomes agitated.
Bathing: While most cats don't enjoy or need regular baths, there are certain times when it might be necessary. If your cat gets into something sticky, oily or potentially harmful if ingested, you'll want to give her a bath to keep her from getting sick trying to lick herself clean. It likely will take more than one person to bath the cat safely. Use a shallow tub and specially formulated cat shampoo. Be sure to offer plenty of praise and treats as you go through the process. If your cat absolutely will not tolerate bathing, you can try a waterless foaming cat shampoo instead.
Nail Trimming: It's important to keep your cat's nails trimmed to prevent damage to both furniture and human skin. As with most unpleasant hygiene habits, it will be easier if you start while the cat is young. Most cats can be coaxed into accepting a nail trimming by taking it slowly and offering lots of treats. Don't try to trim all your cat's nails at the same time. Do one paw and then give kitty a break. Always use an animal-safe nail clipper and only cut the white part of the nail to avoid causing the cat pain.
Ear Care: If you bathe your cat, be sure not to get water in her ears. Ears should be cleaned separately using a moistened cotton ball or cotton swab. Be very, very careful not to put a swab down into your cat's ear. Only clean the cartilage right around the opening of the ear. If your cat suffers from recurrent ear infections, ask your vet to recommend a medicated cleaning solution to help prevent them. If you notice black wax that looks like coffee grounds, that could be a sign of ear mites, and you should see your vet for treatment.
Long-Hair Care: Long-haired breeds may need extra grooming to head off problems. Keep paw hair trimmed to prevent matting from kitty litter. You should also keep the hair around your cat's behind short to prevent a build-up of trapped feces. Keep a close watch on facial hair to make sure it’s not growing into her eyes, hindering sight or even irritating her corneas.