Keeping your cat well-groomed and clean is essential, not only for their health but happiness too. Maintaining your cat eyes, ears, paws, teeth, and coat are crucial grooming tasks that need to be done on a regular basis. Here are five tips to help your beloved pet with their grooming routine.
Check your cat’s eyes weekly for changes or signs of problems. Look for discharge, cloudiness, or excessive closing or blinking. Look directly into the pupils to be sure they expand in the light and that there’s no sign of the third eyelid. Your cat’s eyes should be clear and bright. Gently pull down the eyelid, the inside should be pink. If it looks red or white, it could be a sign of a problem.
If there is any discharge, use a damp cotton ball to clean out any gunk or crustiness in the corners. Be sure to use a fresh cotton ball for each eye. You don’t want to contaminate the other eye if one is infected. Don’t use drops or anything made for human eyes unless prescribed by your vet. Eye problems and infections can escalate quickly, so don’t hesitate to get a check-up for any symptoms that are not normal for your cat.
Your cat can hear the faintest sounds, just try opening a can of their food when they are not in the room! Keep kitty’s ears healthy by looking for potential problems. Inspect the ears both inside and out weekly for any signs of change or issues. If you see excessive head shaking or rubbing, make an appointment with your vet.
Check the outside of the ears too. They should have a fine layer of hair. If you see bald spots or swelling, it could be a sign of problems.
Look inside the ears for any signs of wax build-up, discharge, or redness. They should be pink with no debris or smell. You can clean kitty’s ears with a cotton ball and some ear cleaner. Be gentle when pulling the ear back and don’t go into the ear canal. Bugs are common in outdoor cats, and any sign of ear mites or bugs requires a call to the vet.
Checking your cat’s teeth most likely isn’t going to be easy, but it is vital to their overall health. Let your cat get comfortable with this by gently pulling back the lips to reveal their gums and teeth. Check the back and front teeth. They should be clean and sharp with no signs of decay or looseness. Look for signs of build-up on the gums which could signal gingivitis or gum disease.
Other signs of gum disease include:
- Red or dark gums
- Difficulty eating
- Bad breath
You can clean your cat’s teeth with a kit which will contain cat-specific toothbrush and paste. Gently rub the toothpaste onto the teeth. Slowly introducing this process will help your cat adjust to this new routine.
Specific teeth cleaning treats chew toys, and a diet that includes both wet and dry food can help keep your cat’s teeth clean too. Check with your vet if you see any symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease. Extractions and deeper cleaning can be done under anesthesia.
Claws and Paws
Your cat depends on their paws for climbing, scratching, playing, and defense. Keep them healthy with a few simple steps.
Soil, litter, and debris can get caught in paws, especially in cats that go outside. Wipe the pads with a damp cloth and examine them for any signs of sores, swelling or cuts. Long hair that grows in between the pads can be irritating so look for signs of licking or biting. Don’t attempt to trim this hair, leave it to professionals or your vet’s office.
Kitty’s nails need to be checked and trimmed approximately every two weeks. Get your cat comfortable with this by gently massaging their paws regularly. Sit your cat on your lap and keep treats handy. Apply light pressure so that the claws will extend. Trim just to the quick, which can be seen through the nail. If you cut too low, this could bleed, if it does, apply cornstarch to stop the bleeding.
Both long and short-haired cats require grooming. Cats will clean themselves, but your kitty’s coat can show signs of health problems so brushing them each week will help keep you aware of any changes.
There are many types of brushes available for cats. Detangling combs, rubber or plastic bristles, and grooming gloves are all excellent options. Whatever you choose, be gentle, and stop if your cat shows signs of agitation. Don’t attempt to cut or trim your cat’s coat, leave that to the professionals. While grooming, look for signs of bald patches, excessive dandruff or bugs. These problems could require a trip to the vet.
Your cat’s teeth and tongue will do most of the grooming, but if he is excessively dirty, you may want to bathe them. Trim their nails and give them a thorough brushing first. Try to wash your cat when they are most docile, perhaps after a meal.
Use a rubber mat in the tub or sink and use lukewarm water. Gently wet your cat with a handheld faucet and put just a few inches of water in the bottom of the container. Use shampoo made specifically for cats and gently rubs it into their wet fur. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a big fluffy towel. Brush or comb kitty after their bath to remove any knots that may have occurred in the process.
Keeping your cat healthy and happy requires regular grooming. Excessive scratching, chewing, head shaking, and changes to behavior can be clues to health issues, but with monitoring and maintenance, you can catch problems early.
Remember, when it comes to grooming, many cats will not tolerate too much prodding. Introduce new routines by briefly and gently touching the area each day until your cat becomes more comfortable with the new touch. If your cat shows signs of resistance such as hissing, clawing or crying, back off, and if necessary, make an appointment with a professional.