Cats are typically pretty good at grooming themselves and maintaining their own appearance. Their tongues and teeth are made for smoothing out and cleaning their fur to prevent mats and tangles. However, some regularly-scheduled maintenance time from owners can help cats keep their smooth, sleek appearance, with some great benefits.
Whenever cats groom themselves, they are swallowing hair. The more hair the cats have, and the more they groom, the more hair they swallow. This means more hairballs for you if you don’t help your cats out by taking over some of the grooming chores.
When owners take the time to sit down and brush their cats, they are benefitting in numerous ways. One of the ways is less hairballs, as mentioned above, since brushing your cat removes excess hair that he won’t be licking up later. It also means less cat hair on your clothes, since the excess hair will be in the trash instead of on your pant legs. Another benefit is that grooming allows you to participate in a common social behavior among cats. Cat who get along well will groom each other for long periods of time, blissfully enjoying the lavish pampering from their loved ones. A light grooming with a slicker brush can mimic this good social behavior, creating great bonding moments between you and your cat.
Brushing your cat can also prevent troublesome matting or tangles. While mats and tangles may not seem like a big deal, they can be pretty painful to your kitty. If a mat gets thick enough, it can tear your cat’s skin. In addition, the only way to remove a particularly troublesome mat is to shave it off.
There are a few different tools you can use to groom your cat. The most popular is a slicker brush, which has bristles that look like dozens of tiny bent nails. Slicker brushes resemble the rasps on cats’ tongues, and cats usually enjoy the feel of a slicker while you are removing all that excess fur. Brushes with nylong bristles and brushes of reinforced wires with plastic tips also help with grooming. Brushing your cat with a different bristle will leave a different look in your cats fur, since each type of bristle disperses oils from your cat’s skin in different manners. If your cat does not like brushes, you can try grooming mitts, which allow you to brush your cat and pet him at the same time!
For a succesful grooming session with your cat, keep these basic guidelines in mind:
- Cats with shorter hair require less grooming maintenance than cats with longer, silkier coats. While all cats benefit from being brushed, shorter hair cats won’t need to see the slicker brush as often.
- It’s okay to spread a full-body brushing out between a few days. Not all cats will have the patience to sit that long, especially if something interesting catches their eye. Brushing your cat’s back and tail in one session while tackling belly and legs in another session will still create the same benefits as brushing all of your cat at one time.
- Be gentle in your brushing. Just as you dislike having your hair pulled, cats dislike having their fur pulled too hard.
- If you find a bad mat or tangle in your cat’s fur, be careful in your attempt to separate the fur. Using a slicker brush and fine-toothed comb may work, if you find the tangle early enough. However, you may have to take your kitty in to your vet or a groomer to get the mat shaved off if it is too bad to be brushed away.
Keep your cat looking and feeling great with these guidelines. Your cat will look healthy and beautiful and less like something the cat dragged in.