So you've just brought home a new cat and are so excited to get to play. Then you realize, there's more to being a cat owner than just the fun stuff. You'll need to ensure your cat is safe, healthy, and clean. Much of that will entail regular visits to your veterinarian and possibly a groomer. But in the meantime, there's basic at-home cat grooming you can do. Whether they're a kitten or full-grown adult cat, having the proper cat grooming supplies can make all the difference.
Some cat grooming is necessary
While it's true that most cats tend to clean themselves, (and they do a fairly good job of it) there are some basic needs that they aren't always able to meet on their own.
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There are also cats who, (for various reasons are unable to clean themselves or self-groom. This can range from cats who have disabilities or injuries to cats that are of an age where they're no longer flexible enough to reach certain areas. These cats are especially in need of our assistance.
Should I bathe my cat?
Bathing your cat gently at least once a month for the first several months of having them will help you out infinitely. By being consistent, your cat will get used to being cleaned and realize that there's nothing to be afraid of. For the first few times, shampoo isn't necessary — especially if your cat is having a really hard time adjusting to it.
After the initial training period is done, however, there are a number of safe cat shampoos and conditioners. Conditioner isn't a requirement unless you're having to bathe them a lot, as this can dry out their skin. In between baths you can also use a waterless, dry shampoo that doesn't require rinsing.
Allowing your cat to get used to baths will help you both in the long run. Some cats might suffer from a skin condition that requires regular, medicated baths or they have health issues. Perhaps they have aged past being able to clean themselves. Therefore, having a cat that's used to being bathed by you monthly will be helpful — for each stage of their life.
Brushing a cat's teeth
Just like humans, cats can get gum issues that lead to things like infections and even heart disease. Because of this, it's important to keep your cat's teeth as healthy as possible. If you're able to, using a small toothbrush with cat toothpaste 3 to 5 times a week is best. You can also gently use a finger brush, which is especially great for kittens.
Some cat owners find entering their cat's mouth in any way an insurmountable task. If you find it difficult to clean inside your cat's mouth, there are cat treats and supplements that help with gum and tooth health. In addition to your at-home care, you'll need to make sure to schedule regular dental cleanings. Your cat should have their teeth cleaned at least once a year.
Brushing a cat's hair
Whether your cat is long-haired or short-haired, there's a good chance they will do a decent amount of shedding. Though with the right kind of cat brush and a proper and regular brushing routine — cat shedding can be reduced.
If your cat has short hair, a Kong Zoom Groom brush can be used wet or dry. This type of brush is gentle enough to use on your cat daily. The dead hair clings to the tool rather than flying all over the place. For those with more intense needs, (like an excess of loose hair and undercoat) a de-shedding rake can also be used — though sparingly.
There are also cat grooming gloves that are great for everyday use. Just pop them on while you're chilling with your cat and pet away. Much like the Zoom Groom, their rubbery texture ensures the cat fur will stick to the gloves. You'll be amazed at how much it reduces their daily shedding. These cat brushes can work for any length of cat hair. However, cats with longer hair will have more grooming needs.
The best long-haired cat brushes
If you have a long-haired cat breed you'll need a slicker brush and a comb. Make sure the comb and brush bristles aren't too close together, as this can cause painful pulling of their hair. Never comb hair that hasn't been thoroughly brushed first.
Never try to comb or brush out a tight fur mat. If you find difficult tangles or mats on your cat, the best course of action is to take them to a groomer to get them spot shaved. Don't worry, they won't cut their hair unless you want them to. Spot shaving is shaving the one little spot where the mat is. It is important to note that this is not a great practice to do at home. Best to leave spot shaving to the professionals.
Whatever tool you're using on a long or short-haired cat, make sure not to go over the same spot too many times. This can cause your cat's skin to suffer from a red, irritating condition called, brush burn.
Cat grooming tools you don't need
You will also need to get any sheers or scissors. But unless you're a trained groomer, you don't need to go out and get clippers or clipper blades.
You should also never ever use a tool like the Furminator on your cat. A Furminator (and similar tools) are basically one part of a grooming blade. It has very stout teeth that are extremely close together. This makes it a great tool to use on dogs such as boxers with extremely short hair. However, it's inappropriate to use for any cat — regardless of hair type. A Furminator pulls on the fur that's not ready to shed out. This tool can damage your cat's coat and skin.
Flat-faced cat breed grooming needs
If your cat is a Himalayan or another type of flat-faced breed, they likely have deep wrinkles under their eyes. These wrinkles can build up bacteria and dirt, and can greatly benefit from regular cleaning.
Gently cleaning them once a day with a wipe works wonders. There are even wipes that are multi-use and safe for cat ears, eye wrinkles, and anywhere else on their face. This will not only make sure they're healthy but can also eliminate odors caused by accumulated bacteria. Regular cleaning of the eye area can also prevent coloring changes in the surrounding area.
If your cat has a lot of eye gunk you can also use a flea comb to gently lift it away. The flea comb obviously works wonders on its intended use: removing fleas and/or ticks if they ever land on your cat. But because it's a super fine-toothed comb, it's best not to use a flea comb for regular combing.
Proper cat nail clippers
Hopefully, all of your cat's claws are intact. If that's the case, clipping them can really help prevent excessive scratching of your furniture and even yourself. There are tons of different styles of cat nail clippers. While many have their preferences, scissor-style clippers, like in the picture below, work the best for cats.
The guillotine-style nail clippers run the risk of trapping nails and even potentially foot pads. There is also a risk of a potentially serious injury if anyone makes a sudden move — which cats are prone to doing.
The perfect size and handle type will be determined by you and your comfort level. Whatever you find to be the easiest to use is always going to be best.
Treats are a cat's best friend
Treats can be a great incentive for your cat to allow you to groom them, especially if they're food motivated. The best treats are the ones that last a while.
Liquid treats that come in pouches are great because you can hold them in front of your cat. Plus, they'll likely last throughout the entire task you're trying to perform. Basically whatever treat your cat will respond to enough to be distracted and feel rewarded is the best option.
The bottom line
Having a cat is a big responsibility. But knowing what cat grooming supplies you need is a great start on your journey. Ensuring that you have the correct brushes, nail clippers, dental health tools, and treats will get you on the right track to maintaining your cat's health, comfort, and happiness at home.
- Chewy: Greenies Feline Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats
- Chewy: KONG Cat ZoomGroom Multi-Use Brush
- Amazon: Andis Pet DeShedding Tool
- Amazon: Pet Grooming Gloves Cat Brushes Gloves for Gentle Shedding
- Chewy: JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Slicker Brush
- Chewy: Multipet Groom Genie Eye, Ear & Tush Dog Wipes, 100 count
- Amazon: Mr. Pen- Cat Nail Clipper, Cat Nail Trimmers
- Chewy: Inaba Churu Grain-Free Chicken, Tuna, Scallop Puree Variety Pack Lickable Cat Treat