But I thought cats groomed themselves? If that were true, then we wouldn’t see so many cats experience matting, gunky ears, tons of shedding, hairballs, long or ingrown toenails, poop or litter stuck to their rears or paws, tangles and much more. Before I became a groomer, I thought that owning cats meant you had to vacuum 2-3 times a week, live in clothes covered in cat hair and furniture covered in scratches, regularly clean up hairballs and sometimes they’d need to go get shaved down when they got matted. All of that changed when I learned more about what grooming could do for my cats, and now that I know better and do better for my own cats, I want to help other cats and their owners too!
Trimming Cat Nails
Ingrown cat nails from not being trimmed regularly.
The first thing every groomer should start with is trimming the cat’s nails. Regular nail trims prevent the following:
Damage done to furniture, curtains and carpet
Damage done to family members’ arms and legs
The cat getting stuck on fabric or carpets (if they can’t get unstuck, cats can damage or even pull out their nails by yanking them free)
Ingrown nails causing pain and open wounds on the paw pads
Thick or overgrown nails making it painful to walk
Young cats and kittens are still growing, and their nails tend to grow very quickly. They are also still learning and may play rough, which can be painful for their playmates (both cat and person!). Older cat nails usually become thicker and also need trimming more often to keep their nails healthy and at an appropriate length. Scratching pads can be a favorite among cats for enrichment and activity, but corrugated cardboard or sisal rope (common materials for scratching posts and pads) aren’t designed to file nails or shorten their length. They are designed to remove the old, outer layers of the nail sheath. This is great for comfort and nail health, but doesn’t prevent any of the issues listed above. Cleaning/Checking Ears and Eyes Each regular grooming appointment should include the groomer checking the cat’s ears and eyes, and then cleaning as necessary. This can help to prevent infections and more severe issues by the groomer alerting you to any problems as early as possible. Persians, Exotics, Himalayans and white or light colored cats can also be more prone to eye discharge and tear staining. Good eye health should include checking the eyes regularly and using a cat safe eye wash to gently wipe the area clear of any gunk or discharge. No Hairballs, Matting, Tangles or Shedding
Believe it or not, just because you own a cat doesn’t mean you have to live covered in cat hair! A regular grooming schedule can remove the excess dead hair before it has a chance to cause problems for you or the cat. We have several articles that go more in depth with these issues. How Do Cats Get Matted? How to Remove Cat Mats Relief From Cat Allergies Reducing Cat Hairballs Bathing gently loosens the dead hair, while the drying and comb through remove the rest that is ready to come out. Just brushing or combing your cat can cause hair damage and skin irritation with the wrong tools, and can piss your cat off quickly! It also isn’t nearly as thorough as a good groom done with professional tools. Keeping Your Cat’s Rear Clear of Litter Box Left Behinds Longhaired cats can be especially prone to having small poop nuggets, urine or litter stuck to their rear ends and paws. For some cats, this can even lead to red, irritated skin around the rear and genitals. This is not only uncomfortable for the cat, but is also very unsanitary as the cat drags those left behinds around your house, on your furniture and even in your bed! Gross! Maintaining a clean rear end can be done during the bath, or with a sanitary trim for longhaired or overweight cats. Help Your Cat Love Their Groomer For first time grooming appointments, it is a challenge to help limit your cat’s stress of a new environment and experience. This is made even worse if their first visit is when there’s already a painful or uncomfortable problem (like matting, irritated rear end, ingrown nails, etc.). A regular grooming schedule not only keeps your cat’s skin and coat in tip top shape, but it also helps to build a long term, positive relationship between you, your cat and their groomer. This is even more important as cats get older and may develop health issues or be more prone to stress. A cat that gets groomed once in a blue moon or when there’s a problem will see grooming as a big, stressful ordeal. Whereas a cat that gets groomed regularly sees it as just a part of life, purring and snuggly when they feel clean and soft. After all, a clean cat is a happy cat!