Cats are keen self-groomers. In fact, they spend one third of their waking hours grooming themselves. However it’s important that you brush, comb and even bathe your cat to reduce matted hair, the risk of hairballs,  and to promote a healthy coat.

Your cat’s self-grooming ritual

Each cat will have their own particular grooming ritual and this does more for them than simply keeping them clean. Self-grooming is a soothing ritual for cats that helps them relax. That barbed tongue of theirs is adept at removing loose hair. It may also help to spread their natural oils over their coat, which gives cats that natural lustre and healthy look.

Cats’ tongues also help to remove fleas from their coat but this alone is not enough to protect them from the parasites in your area. Speak to your local Petbarn team member to find the right products to protect your cat from fleas, ticks and worms.

Can I bathe and groom my cat at home?

Yes, bathing and grooming your cat at home can help reduce many problems, such as matted and redundant fur which can lead to hairballs. It is also a great way to manage the amount of cat hair that is shed in the house. The best time to introduce grooming is when they’re a kitten so they become familiar and comfortable with this process. Groom your cat at home when they are in a relaxed mood, for example after a nap.

Things to focus on when grooming  your cat are:

Of course, if bathing and grooming your cat seems like a task too far for you, bring your pet into your local Greencross Vets clinic where the professionals will be happy to do this for you.

How to brush and comb your cat

Even though cats are skilled self-groomers, they still need your help to keep their coat in the best condition so it’s important that you devote some time each day to grooming them with dedicated cat brushes and combs. This is best done several times a week when they are kittens. Most adult cats will also enjoy this pampering experience. Begin grooming your cat with long, gentle strokes down your cat’s back to get them comfortable, and then move onto their legs, head and tummy.

The benefits of brushing your cat include:

  • Distributing their natural oils, helping them maintain their healthy skin and coat
  • Addressing any tangled or knotted fur before becoming too matted
  • Checking for parasites like fleas and ticks
  • Checking for any skin abnormalities or ear problems
  • Spending time deepening the bond with your cat
  • Desensitising your cat to being handled
  • Reducing the amount of hair your cat will swallow, and therefore the formation of hairballs

For short-haired cats, a simple groom with a slicker brush or bristle brush to spread their coat’s natural oils and enhance the shine will be enough. Medium and long-haired breeds should receive a little more attention in the grooming department, so start with a moulting comb or pin brush to gently remove tangles before switching to a finishing brush. Gentle, slow and steady is the key.

The aim is to comb away any loose hair to avoid the likelihood of hairballs, and to prevent matting. Your daily grooming ritual is also a great opportunity for you to monitor your cat’s health by inspecting their skin for ticks, lumps, wounds or other skin concerns. If your cat’s fur is excessively mated, it’s best to take them into local Greencross Vets clinic where professionals can remove the mats and help you clean delicate areas of your cat such as their eyes, ears and mouth.

How to bathe your cat

It’s rare that your cat will need a full bath (and some cats may never need a bath), but their curious natures can get them into sticky situations every once in a while. By helping your cat become accustomed to baths when they’re still kittens, they will be more comfortable with the process if the need arises. When introducing them to grooming as a kitten, make sure to always be soothing and gentle throughout so that they enjoy this process. If you are not sure how to care for your new kitten, view our Kitten Care Guide to learn all our tips and tricks for providing them with the best care.

To make bathing your cat as pleasant as possible, make sure that you keep these in mind before you start:

  • Be patient, have someone to assist you, and go slow and steady
  • It’s always easier if you start bathing them when they’re still a kitten. Bathing  adult cats not used to this process can be challenging and it’s essential that you do not stress your cat as they may scratch or bite. If your cat is becoming stressed, please stop. You may be able to revisit the process at another time. Some cats may not tolerate being bathed at all – this is fine, as you can still continue with the gentle grooming as described above.
When you’re ready to bathe your cat, follow these steps:
  1. Add a small amount of warm water to a laundry sink or bathtub. A non-slip mat maybe be of benefit for your cat to stand on
  2. Slowly and calmly, use a sponge or similar item to wet your cat
  3. Use a cat shampoo to lather over their whole body. Avoid getting the shampoo in your cat’s eyes
  4. Gently and thoroughly rinse your cat, without wetting your cat’s eyes and the inside of their ears
  5. Gently dry your cat with a towel
  6. Reassure your cat through each step of their bath and be sure to reward their good behaviour with healthy cat treats

If your cat only has a small stain on their fur, you can do a spot clean with grooming wipes, which is less stressful on your cat than a full bath. A great option, especially for cats that are not a fan of being bathed, is waterless shampoo, which removes dirt and deodorises your pet. After brushing your cat, simply massage the dry shampoo into their fur, give the absorbent ingredients time to set, and then comb it out.

Make sure to check their ears

You should regularly check your cat’s ears to look for signs of infection, bad odours, increased scratching of the ear, dark debris around the ear and excessive ear wax. If your cat displays any of these symptoms you should take them to your local Greencross Vets for a check-up. Home cleaning of cats ears can be fraught with complications and should only be done under the guidance and recommendation of your Greencross Vet.

Regularly trim their nails

Regularly trim your cat’s nails to prevent them from becoming overgrown, and to protect your furniture. Read our article to learn how to cut your cat’s nails, or bring them in to your local Greencross Vets clinic and have a professional take care of this for you.

Brushing your cat every day is a great way to bond with your pet and encourage a healthy skin and coat. Visit your local Petbarn to chat with our team members for more advice on cat grooming and other tips on how to bathe and clean your cat.