Cats pride themselves on their meticulous self-grooming skills. Not only do they spend up to 50 percent of their day primping, they are born with the perfect grooming tool right in their mouths (more on the incredible feline tongue later).
Despite their built-in grooming skills, some cats require a little help from humans, especially long-haired breeds, obese kitties, and seniors.
Does your cat need professional grooming? What can you do at home to help your kitty stay clean and mat-free?
Grooming is about much more than cleanliness and vanity, it is an important aspect of feline health. Grooming helps regulate body temperature and stimulate blood circulation. It also helps remove parasites and allergens that may irritate the skin. Some cats even groom when they are feeling nervous as a way to calm themselves.
The Feline Tongue
The unique feline tongue is lined with tiny spines that give it a sandpapery texture. These hollow scoop-shaped spikes are known as papillae, and they expertly deliver saliva to the skin, loosen knots, and remove dead hair and dander. In fact, every breed of cat is equipped with the ideal grooming tool — with one exception. It turns out Persian cats have such long, luxurious coats their papillae cannot reach all the way down to the skin.
Grooming Persians & Other Long-Haired Cats
If you own a Persian cat or other long-haired breed chances are you have encountered a mat or two. Regardless of their personal grooming habits, these cats require frequent, if not daily, brushing to stay healthy. As with any cat, it is best to begin a brushing regimen during kittenhood. This will establish it as part of their regular routine and help ensure their cooperation.
Choose a high-quality slicker or pin brush to smooth and detangle your Persian’s long, baby-soft hair.
Grooming Obese & Senior Cats
Extremely overweight cats and those with injuries or age-related joint pain may have trouble grooming themselves. This often results in an itchy, greasy coat dotted with dandruff and dead hair. Longer cats may also become matted. Needless to say, this condition is uncomfortable and distressing for such meticulously clean animals.
These cats should not be groomed at home without first seeing a veterinarian. They need a gentle, trained hand to ensure the least amount of pain and distress. Your vet may opt to groom your obese or senior cat in-house or recommend an experienced professional groomer.
Most kitties only need a bath when they are suffering from a skin condition or unable to groom themselves properly. This task is best left to a professional groomer unless you have a very cooperative cat. Not only do groomers have the proper tools and products for your cat’s individual needs, they are trained to get the job done safely.
Depending on your cat’s scratching habits, their nails should be trimmed every four to six weeks. Some cats allow their humans to perform this task at home while others are better off visiting the vet or groomer. They can safely restrain your cat to prevent injury.
Be aware that older cats often stop routine scratching as well as routine grooming. This can lead to dirty, overgrown nails that make it painful to walk. Check your senior kitty’s toenails frequently.
When Should You Take Your Cat To A Professional Groomer?
If at any time you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed with the prospect of grooming your cat at home, seek out a professional. Not all groomers work with cats on a regular basis so make sure you choose someone with solid feline experience.
If your cat has become severely matted or you suspect a skin issue, visit your vet prior to making a grooming appointment. He or she may want to address any medical issues prior to going forward with the groom.
Professional groomers can provide a wide range of services to benefit your cat. In addition to bathing, brushing, and nail trims, professional cat groomers perform overall trims and hygienic grooms. They can also check and clean your cat’s eyes, ears, and teeth as well as offer recommendations for further care.