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Cat Grooming: A Comprehensive Checklist

Whether you’re caring for your first cat, or your tenth, cat grooming can bring up feelings of anxiety and stress for both you and your cat. But it doesn’t need to be that way! We’ve put together a guide to make cat grooming easy and breezy. 

This comprehensive checklist of cat grooming tips and tools will ensure that your cat is getting the care they need to stay happy and healthy! 

Start ‘Em Young! 

If you’re lucky enough to watch your cat grow up, take this opportunity to create good habits and a regular grooming session with your kitten while you can! This means lots of cleaning out the litter box, cuddling, petting, and brushing your cat’s fur. It’s also a good idea to softly rub their gums so they feel safe with you touching their teeth if they need a good brushing in the future! 

Brush Fur Regularly 

finger touching cat nose

Longhaired cats and short hair cats have different needs when it comes to regular grooming. But one important element both cats need is a calm and quiet environment. Start with a few pets and cuddles first, then move on with the brushing. 

With longhaired cats, you should gently detangle any knots in their coat if you find any. Softly brush (not comb), down the length of the tail. Pluck brushes, or brushes with natural thistles are best

PRO TIP: Try to avoid plastic combs, as they generate an electric charge that could literally shock you or your cat. 

With short hair cats, usually once a week will suffice. Combs are ok, just try to avoid plastic ones. Start from the head and end with the tail. And if your cat lets you, go for the belly too! 

Pedicures (Pawdicures?) 

Wondering how to trim cat claws? First things first, remain calm! You got this, and your cat will thank you for taking good care of them.

Helpful tools to have for a good cat mani-pedi: 

  • Scratching post: This will help file down your cat’s nail and save your favorite couch! 
  • Small pet nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Styptic pencil:  If there is ever bleeding from a broken nail, you can apply a styptic pencil, cauterizing powder, or silver nitrate stick to the nail. You can usually find these items at a pet store, or in the first aid section of a human pharmacy. 

Nail Clipping, Step By Step

  • The first step to a successful nail trim is the most important! Make sure you’re in a quiet environment. When your cat is feeling calm and maybe even a little sleepy, place them in your lap.
  • Massage your cat’s paws for a few seconds. Do this for each paw, and when they are still, give the pad a little press so that the nail comes out. Give them a treat for being so chill!
  • Continue to massage your cat’s paws and introduce the nail clippers without actually trying to clip the nails yet. For a few days, keep handing over those treats as they relax in your lap with the clippers and their paw in your hand. After a few days of this, they’ll be relaxed and ready for their pedi! 
  • Now that they’re ready for a trim, place them in your lap facing away from you. Place one toe in your hand and massage and press until you see the nail extend. Trim only the sharp tip, then immediately give them a treat. 
  • The pink part of a cat’s nail is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this area, it’s very sensitive. Only snip the white part of the claw. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t worry if you only trim a tiny bit at first. Keep the styptic pencil close by just in case any bleeding happens. But you’ll be a pro by now, so don’t even worry! 
  • Don’t try clipping all claws at once, it can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, see how your cat is feeling. If they’re super chill, go for another! Don’t forget to give them a treat. 

If your cat is not handling the introduction of clippers well, don’t worry! It’s not a good idea to try clipping nails if they’re not in a good mood. Try again when you’re both feeling calm and confident. 

Cat Baths

While cats are super great at bathing themselves thanks to a cat's tongue, there are instances where they may need a little help from their human. If they’ve gotten themselves into a mess, or rubbed on something that could potentially be toxic to them, a bath might be a good idea.  

Helpful tools for a good cat bath: 

  • Cat shampoo or hypoallergenic shampoo
  • Bathmat (non slip) 
  • Trimmed nails
  • A good attitude 

Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot. Use a cup to wet your cat with warm water, and make sure to avoid their ears, eyes, and face. Remember to be aware of the top causes of allergies in cats before buying cat shampoo. Cat bathing can be tough, so the key here is (you guessed it), patience and a calm environment. 

Dental Care 

vet with cat

Like humans, cats need clean and healthy gums. And with regular check ups at the veterinarian and brushings, you can prevent health issues for your cat as a cat owner! If your kitty has abnormally stinky breath, it could mean they have gum or digestive issues, and you should take them to the vet. Cats' gums should be pink and firm, and the teeth should be clean and strong. 

Take your kitty to the vet if you notice:

  • Loose teeth
  • Pus 
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth 
  • Inflammation

Brush Those Teeth: 

  • Before going in with the toothbrush, give your cat a soft gum massage with your finger (or cotton swab if that’s better for you) 
  • Introduce the taste of cat toothpaste prior to putting it on a cat toothbrush. 
  • Once your cat is comfortable with the smell and taste of the toothpaste, introduce the brush to them and go for a soft and gentle brush on your cat's teeth. 

PRO TIP: Chew toys are also great for making cat’s teeth strong, massaging gums, and flossing! 

There you have it! Cat care can be intimidating at first, but by following these tips and tricks you’ll build a great foundation for cat grooming that will only get easier with time. Remember, it takes patience, treats, and a lot of love. Happy cat caring! 

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