Everyone knows that cats spend a lot of time primping, cleaning themselves and generally making sure that every hair is in place. What many people don’t know is that despite their extensive toilette, cats need the help of their owners to stay well groomed. Besides helping your cat maintain a shiny, healthy coat, grooming allows you to check for anything out of the ordinary (skin problems, wounds, or fleas, for example).
Regular grooming will benefit you and your kitty in many other ways. The loose hair you remove will make your cat feel better and shed less, which translates to less vacuuming for you. It will also improve your cat’s circulation (which helps keep his skin healthy), and help prevent hairballs. Perhaps most importantly, it will strengthen your relationship with your pet, allowing you to spend quality time together on a regular basis.
The best way to get your cat accustomed to grooming is to start when he is still a kitten. Make your sessions short at first, gently brushing his hair for just a few minutes. Stroke him and shower him with praise to help make the experience more enjoyable. Always handle your kitty very carefully and keep a regular grooming schedule. Although he may resist at first, your cat will come to love the attention.
The most important aspect of the grooming routine you establish will be combing and brushing. The tools you use and the frequency of the grooming sessions will depend on the kind of cat you have. If you have a shorthaired cat, you should begin with a fine-toothed comb. Work carefully, combing slowly in the direction of hair growth. Be especially gentle around your cat’s stomach and tail, as these areas are particularly sensitive. After a thorough combing, brush your pet until there is no more loose hair and the coat is lustrous. Once or twice a week should be enough to keep your cat looking good.
If your cat has long hair, these sessions will need to be much more frequent; you may even need to groom as often as once a day. You will probably also want to begin with a brush instead of a comb, since cats with long hair usually have more tangles. Next, use a wide-toothed comb for utmost effectiveness. You may want to finish by using a shedding blade, which will prevent shedding by getting rid of any loose hair. Alternatively, you can use a grooming glove, which will distribute natural oils through your cat’s coat.
You should also bathe your cat regularly. Only give your cat a bath when his coat looks especially oily or dirty (excessive bathing will irritate your pet’s sensitive skin). Before you start, be sure to brush your cat thoroughly; otherwise, you’ll clog your drain and have serious tangles to contend with. Test the water temperature before you douse your cat, making sure that the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Use a shampoo specially designed for felines (baby shampoo is okay too). Conditioner is optional, but recommended for longhaired cats. Most importantly, make sure that you thoroughly rinse out the product, as leftover residue can cause skin problems.
Essentials for a Cat Fur Coat
A bright shiny coat is a sign of vigor and good health. We want our pets to look and feel their best and grooming helps achieve this goal. All cats benefit from regular grooming. Here are a few tips to help make your pet look his very best.
- Beauty is Only Skin Deep
No matter what breed of cat you have, coat type, or color, the first essential for good skin and coat appearance is proper nutrition. The proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals is crucial. Even if they seem to be more economical, generic brand or store label pet foods are often not made from the quality ingredients your pet needs to stay healthy. Talk to your veterinarian about pet food recommendations; everyone has his favorites and there are many quality brands. If you are formulating your own home made diet, be sure you have the proper balance of nutrients.
Conversely, if your cat is on a balanced diet, overloading with vitamin and mineral supplements may be harmful.
- Clean Inside and Out
Keeping your pet's coat at its best means keeping a regular check on internal parasites. Worms can sap essential nutrients from your cat, which would cause the hair coat to lose its luster and quality, not to mention causing other serious health problems. Your veterinarian will recommend a fecal exam during wellness exams to check for parasites. Watch for fleas and ticks too. These creatures can make your pet feel miserable and itchy and cause severe scratching, which could damage the coat.
- Combs and Brushes
Regular grooming is essential no matter what type of coat your pet has. Combs are designed to remove mats and detangle long hair. Brushes remove dead surface hair and dander, and distribute oil to give a finished look. Rakes and combs tackle coats that have become matted. Always comb and brush your pet before bathing. Wet hair is harder to work with if it is tangled or matted. If your pet is matted to the skin, see your groomer or veterinarian about having the coat shaved. Then start with regular grooming as the new fur grows in.
- Shampoos and Conditioners
There is a shampoo and conditioner for every type of hair coat for cats. Many pets need regular bathing. Others need it periodically. If your pet has an ongoing skin condition, see your veterinarian. Use a product that is formulated for use on pets. Products manufactured for people are too harsh for your pet's delicate skin. They differ in pH, and most are designed to strip your hair and skin of oil. Oftentimes, this results in a dry, flaky coat for your pet.
There are color shampoos designed to enhance the sheen and color of white, black and brown cats and really makes them shine. Detanglers and conditioners are great for medium to long coated cats to make combing easier. The key to a successful bath is to make sure you rinse your pet thoroughly. Even when it seems like the product is rinsed out, rinse again a few more times. Soap residue will dull the coat and leave the skin feeling itchy.
- Finishing Sprays
Finishing sprays are designed for application when your pet is still wet that make the coat slick and shiny. Most of these sprays contain silicone and function to seal the hair shaft, make it lay down flat and make combing and brushing easier between baths. Use it sparingly; a little goes a long way.
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The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care
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