Groom Like You Mean It

Look at any photograph of a celebrity and rest assured there’s a glam squad behind the scenes primping and putting every hair in place. While your own glamour puss is very capable of taking care of her fur, felines still require a little help from their favorite stylist — you! Good grooming is not just about looks but well-being, too. Keeping her looking fabulous goes beyond mere brushing — from ensuring her hair never mats and trimming fur between the toes to making sure she doesn’t ingest loose hair (and create serious hairballs!) and cleaning teeth. Plus, there’s also those mani-pedis. Here are 10 easy grooming tips to keep kitty sitting pretty.

Use this time to bond

Grooming your cat is a wonderful opportunity for special, quality alone time with benefits for both of you. Build trust and enhance your special bond through regular grooming sessions. Make a point of regularly playing with your cat’s feet and massage her head gently, including her ears. This builds up a level of confidence and tolerance that helps when you need to do a mani-pedi or wipe her face and ears. This is especially important with kittens, but you should do it with all cats no matter their age.

Look for skin and body issues

Being hands-on with your cat regularly allows you to detect issues such as dry skin, rashes and any lumps that may need further attention.

Be a location scout

Whether you’re booking a room with a stunning view for your vacation or looking for the best table in the restaurant for a romantic dinner, it’s the location that matters! The same can be said for finding the right place to groom your cat.

For her to be relaxed and allow you to help with her grooming routine, she needs to be in a really comfortable place. Let her choose. It could be your lap, a platform on the cat tree or the kitchen counter. This way, she’s more likely to stay longer and let you get to work. And, because your cat is in charge, she’s allowed to leave whenever she feels like it; she’s the celebrity here, which means it’s OK to simply complete one task at a time.

Use the right tools

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Short-haired cats should be brushed at least once a week to keep loose hair under control. The less they ingest when they wash themselves, the better. It also means less fur on the furniture. Here’s a list of must-have grooming tools:

  • A nylon bristle brush to give the coat a smooth, silky look
  • A rubber curry brush that looks like a comb with large rubber teeth that magnetically lifts fur and massages
  • Flea comb
  • A fine, short-toothed comb to gently remove any matted hair and for removing hair from the slicker brush

Long-haired cats should be brushed daily to prevent their hair from matting. You will need:

  • A double-sided wire and bristle brush for general grooming
  • A slicker brush to remove tangles, dead hair and debris. It also helps to distribute healthy coat oils all over the body.
  • A wide-toothed comb to keep long hair mat-and tangle-free
  • A de-shedding comb to keep the undercoat thinned without cutting the hair

Clean those teeth the easy way

Cleaning a cat’s teeth is no easy task. They are very squirmy! There are a number of products that can help with this:

  • Feline toothbrushes and pastes
  • Specially formulated dental gels and sprays that coat teeth and create an invisible barrier to prevent harmful bacteria that cause plaque and tartar from attaching to the teeth
  • Dental products that can be added to drinking water
  • Specially formulated tooth wipes that fit onto your finger (like a finger puppet) that can be well tolerated especially if you begin the routine from kittenhood.

Here’s a useful tip to control plaque from Dr. Jan Bellows, the renowned specialist veterinary dentist based in Weston, Florida. He suggests a cotton swab dipped in tuna juice and rubbing it along the teeth. Because cats like the taste they usually allow you to proceed. And if you don’t get the whole mouth done at one time, you can do it in stages. The gentle friction of the cotton swab on the teeth is enough to actively reduce plaque buildup.

Get into a routine

Start by brushing from the neck area toward the tail. Slowly work around the body, the chest, tummy, the legs and work your way down the tail.

Work any mat slowly from the top and gently separate the fur. If you need to cut into it, use special bull-nose scissors, NEVER anything else. A cat’s skin is very delicate and it’s very easy to cut and make bleed, especially if you can’t really gauge where you are cutting through the matted fur. Serious mats should be left to professional groomers.

There are specially formulated wipes to remove dust from a coat. The average domestic kitty doesn’t need a full-on bath. Some cats don’t like water, and the experience might make their blood pressure spike unnecessarily. Similarly, there are special facial wipes to wipe the ears, nose and mouth area. If kitty rolls in something sticky, a feline dry shampoo and some paper towels will take care of the problem. Certain situations and types of cats (hairless) may call for bathtime, which you may want to leave to a professional cat groomer if your cat doesn’t care for water.

Know what to do before you cut those nails

Most cats take a stand when it comes to mani-pedis (although nails should be trimmed monthly) and it’s usually a two-person job. The best, and least stressful way, is to:

  • Wrap her in a blanket — the kitty burrito — and take out one paw at a time.
  • Hold the paw and massage the pads, then press gently so that the nails are extended.
  • To decide where to cut, look at the nail from the side. This way it’s easier to distinguish between the nail and the quick (the blood supply that is an opaque pink color at the base of the nail). If you are unsure, simply trim the very tips of the nails until you build up more confidence.
  • If you accidentally clip into the quick, styptic powder will stop the bleeding. Ordinary cake flour will also do the trick.
  • While you are trimming the front paws, include the dewclaw — the slightly thicker nail on the side of the front feet.
  • On long-haired cats, it’s a good idea to wet the fur to make it easier to see the claw.

If cutting makes you nervous, try a pet nail grinder if your cat doesn’t mind one or go to a professional cat groomer.

Always give treats

Be generous with treats. Reward patient sitting and cooperation all the way through the grooming session. And remember, when your cat says it’s over, it’s over.

Stop static fur

To remove static from a cat’s coat, finely spray the fur with mineral water. It removes the static that’s especially common in dry, wintry weather. It also keeps fur moisturized for a brilliant sheen. Alternatively, run a hot shower to steam up the bathroom and then take your cat in there with you. Don’t let her overdo it in the kitty sauna! This is another excellent and easy way to add moisture to the fur and remove static in extremely cold climates.

Make it fun

And finally, talk to her all the time and don’t get stressed, as she will pick up on your emotions. Giving treats and playing games afterward all help to label it a fun occasion.

Got a hairless breed?

If you have a hairless kitty, the best way to ensure that she has perfect, non-oily skin is to embark on a regular beauty routine similar to what you would do for your own face. Use a soft exfoliating mitt to remove dead cells, and then wipe her down with a specially formulated cat wipe. Hairless or mostly hairless cats include the Bambino, Donskoy, Peterbald, Sphynx and the Ukrainian Levkoy.

Tools for easier grooming

Grooming a cat has never been easier with the grooming tools we have available today. Here are just a few tools to help your kitty be pretty.

TropiClean Waterless Dander-Reducing Cat Shampoo for Cats; $9.99.
Andis Cordless Nail Grinder; $62.99.
Lil Pals and Safari Grooming Products; $5.99 – $23.99.
Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Cat Grooming Wipes; $15.99.
Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Kit for Cats;  $13.11.

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