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Pet Health, Interesting Facts, and
Cat Grooming Tips
SECRETS OF CAT GROOMING
Grooming your cat may be one of the most challenging of operations.
Many grooming shops won't even work on cats because it takes time, skill,
patience, and know-how to do the job right, and cats rarely cooperate. Here
are some thoughts from our staff (who have groomed a LOT of cats and have the
scars to prove it).
Shorthaired cats are fairly easy to manage. They just need a thorough
brushing with a tight slicker brush such as the Warner Original Slicker
or love glove to pull loose hair from the coat.
Longhaired cats, on the other hand, can be very
complicated. Most longhaired breeds have considerable, dense
"undercoat" next to the skin. It is this undercoating that grows in
seasonally to keep them warm in winter and then sheds to let them stay cool
in summer. During the shedding process, it can become matted and tangled in
the longer hairs and produce huge and uncomfortable mats.
Why are some longhaired cats more prone to mats?
It has to do with the quality of the hair: Some hair is silky and will not
hold tangles. Some hair is cottony and is extremely difficult to keep
tangle-free. (silver or chinchilla Persians come to mind most frequently in
the latter category)
Longhaired cats should be brushed routinely.
First use the Universal Slicker Brush followed by the Warner Slicker Brush
followed by the Greyhound Comb.
Start kittens getting used
to lying in your lap and having their tummies rubbed and brushed without
squirming and fighting. Routine brushing becomes quite pleasant for your cat
if you do it often and don't wait until it hurts.
Things you should know before you start grooming
Cats have very thin and pliable skin. This is
important, because too forceful pulling or ripping can actually tear the
skin. Additionally, using scissors to cut mats has often led to giant gashes
when skin is pulled up into the mat and then mistakenly sliced off with the
scissors along with the mat.
Cats use nails and teeth to resist grooming. The
claws should be trimmed blunt before starting the procedure. See cat claw
clippers. Don't make the mistake of feeling like a front-de-clawed cat is no
threat. Many, many de-clawed cats have learned to be quite ferocious biters.
Additionally, it is the rear feet that are used to do the most damage. Be
calm and be careful.
Cats are hard to restrain. You must adjust your
attitude. Remain calm, un-hurried, and non-forceful. The best option is to
try to restrain as little as possible. If you can brush or comb while the cat
actually walks or crawls away, then re-position and let him walk or crawl
away again (over and over) it will give him a sense of control over the
situation, and both of you will accomplish your goal.
If it becomes necessary to
restrain him (or part of him) while you groom, see the cat sack and cat
Don't try to restrict the
cat's tail. Cats use their tail to dissipate tension by swishing back and
forth. Just try to work around it.
Cats seem to have a remarkable sense about who likes
them. It is especially important that you perform these procedures in an
unhurried manner, and that you don't get stressed out yourself. Talk in a
soft, soothing tone of voice, stopping occasionally to stroke the cat's body.
If your cats are particularly high strung or
nervous, there are a couple of all-natural calmatives or tranquilizers that
might help. You want him to be just drowsy, not asleep. However, if you are
going to use a calmative or tranquilizer, experiment with it BEFORE you groom
to be sure what the effect will be. Cats sometimes react just the opposite of
the way you would expect. (It might be best for YOU to take the tranquilizer.)
If your cats have only a few mats, you may be able to
work them out by using the corner of a slicker brush to work on the mat from
the outside into its felted center. If you are successful, it will break
apart into a few, looser finger-like pieces. Move the mat(s) away from the
skin (working a little at a time) so that it hangs loosely from the ends of
the longer hairs. Then a greyhound style comb will gently pull it out to be
tossed in the garbage.
However, if the mats are dense and bound very
tightly to the skin, it will probably be necessary to "shave" them out
using grooming clippers, which can slide gently between the mat and the skin
without cutting the skin.
Equipment for shaving or clipping the hair short:
If it becomes
necessary to use grooming clippers to shave under the mats you will need
a professional set of clippers and a couple of different blades:
The #10 blade that comes with the clippers may be
adequate to clip under all but the MOST TIGHTLY ENTWINED mats. Mats of the
worst kind take a #40 blade because it is even thinner and is able to get between
the hair and skin gently.
(Remember to repeatedly check to be sure your
blades are not getting too hot for the cat's comfort. Use Kool Lube to cool
and lubricate them.)
If you wish to leave a
little more fuzz on some areas where mats are lighter or non-existent, you
will want to purchase a #4FC or #7FC blade. However, do NOT use the #4FC or
long blades in the groin or armpit areas. Their teeth are too wide and you
will risk cutting the skin in those regions where the flap of skin is likely
to move up into the blade.
- To clip a mat out of the
surrounding hair, try to stretch the skin taut around the mat. Sometimes
a mat may seem huge and puffy, but only a small amount of hair is
actually holding it to the skin. Move and manipulate it. Clip carefully so
that only the hairs that are holding the mat are removed.
- Work on the tail with your
brushes and combs before you decide to shave the cat's tail. It takes an
inordinate amount of time for a long, bushy tail to re-grow, so don't
clip it unless it is absolutely necessary.
- If you want to clip the
entire body, we recommend the #10 blade. Leave the head and a fairly
sizable ruff around the neck area. (You can decide at the end of the
procedure how much neck you want to leave according to your desired
- The anal area is
particularly difficult. It can trap large wads of fecal material that
are very difficult to shave due to their objectionable nature. The #10
blade will work best here.
Some cats take a great deal of care. Routine brushing and combing are the
only answer unless you don't mind a longhaired cat shaved short two or three
times a year. But proper tools and a little patience will make the job that
much easier for everyone.