As all cat owners know, their cat already does a pretty good job of keeping herself clean. In fact, at times it may seem like all cats ever do is groom themselves. This is just part of a cat’s nature; their cleanliness and hygiene is one of their upmost priorities, alongside catching up on any missed sleep and bringing you home interesting gifts, of course.
With this in mind it may be a surprise to some pet owners that they can give their cat even more of a helping hand when it comes to keeping them clean. However, before we dive in to the ways you can offer assistance, it’s good to know how cats keep themselves so well groomed.
How do cats clean themselves?
It’s not hard to pick up on many of your cats grooming habits, but to help any new pet owners, we have broken down the different types of behavior and why your cat goes to such lengths to keep themselves clean in the first place.
Licking – The number one way that cats keep themselves clean is through licking. Although for us this may seem like a strange way to maintain hygiene levels, cat’s tongues are designed to effectively clean any particularly dirty areas of their coat. The moisture of their tongues allows them to target any problem areas, and it won’t take long for your pet to be sparkling clean.
Brushing With Their Paws – Another way cats grooms themselves is with their paws. They do this by licking the surface of their paw and then running it over their coat. This allows them to reach parts of their coats that even the most flexible cats can’t manage with their tongue.
Using Their Teeth – Although not as popular as the first two habits covered, cats can often use their teeth to de-mat their coat and remove any loose fur as well.
All in all, cats already do a very good job of keeping themselves well groomed. However, as an owner that wants to offer a little bit of help, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your cat’s hygiene levels stay as high as they can, keeping your pet fit and healthy.
Helping Keep Your Cat Clean
The fact that cats do such a good job keeping their cleanliness levels so high may mean some owners neglect grooming altogether. All cat owners should look to find some ways to offer help. Some cats may be wary of being groomed, so it can take time to ease them into the process.
Brushing – Using a metal comb and brushing all over the body in the direction that the coat grows is all that is needed to remove dirt and debris from short-haired cats. A rubber brush can also be helpful in removing dead hair on cats with short fur. Long-haired cats need a bit more attention. Start brushing the abdomen and legs and gently comb fur upward toward your cat’s head. Comb the neck fur upward, toward her chin, and make a part down the middle of her tail and gently brush the fur outward toward either side.
Begin brushing your cat regularly. Most cats should be receptive to this type of grooming because it is so similar to being petted. However, by brushing your cat’s coat you will be able to keep an eye out for any potential issues or skin irritations. Although cats are great at cleaning themselves they can’t exactly alert you if their skin or coat is overcome with parasites. Brushing will mean you can stay on top of any unwanted developments.
Bathing – If your cat gets into something that makes her very dirty, sticky, or smelly, you may need to give her a bath. Bathing a cat isn’t always so easy, and it is best to do so after an intense play session when she is tired and more mellow. Give her a good brushing to remove any loose hair, place some cotton in her ears to keep water out, then fill your sink or tub with approximately three to four inches of lukewarm water. It is helpful to put a rubber mat in the sink or tub where you will be bathing her to keep her from slipping. Gently massage your cat from head to tail with a mixture of cat shampoo and water (1 part shampoo to 5 parts water), taking care to avoid the face, ears, and eyes. Once clean, rinse kitty with a hose or pitcher, ensuring that all residue has been removed. Use a washcloth with plain water or extra diluted shampoo to wipe off her face. Once complete, wrap your cat in a large towel and dry her in in a warm place.
Ear Cleaning – Monitoring your cat’s ears once per week for wax, debris and infection will help her stay perky and alert to your every move. Fold your cat’s ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you can see in her ear with some liquid ear cleaner on a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze. Do not attempt to clean the inner ear canal, as probing inside your cat’s ear can cause trauma or infection.
These are a few simple tips on how you can offer some help to your cat to keep her clean. The ASPCA offers more helpful information on nail trimming, eye cleaning, and dental care. If you do decide to groom your cat remember that patience is key. Not rushing your pet will make the whole experience far more enjoyable for both you and your cat.
About the author:
This post was written by Jenny Nolan, normally found writing articles for a pet grooming blog Cleaner Paws with Mom Sue.