Did you know that cats spend as much as 50% of their waking time grooming themselves or other cats? Not only does it keep their coat looking neat and tidy, but is also important part of their overall health and well-being.
Many pet owners think that cats are independent pets and do not need additional grooming. But do cats really need grooming beyond self-maintenance? The answer is a resounding yes!
In this article, we will explore the importance of grooming for cats, why they need grooming and how you can make grooming your feline companion easy.
Why Grooming Is Important For Your Cat
Cats are known for their cleanliness and grooming helps maintain this reputation.
By keeping their coat shiny, healthy, and free of parasites, grooming helps to preserve their natural beauty and cleanliness.
In addition to keeping your cat looking pretty, it also serves a number of important purposes, including:
Important From The Start
Grooming plays a crucial part of a cat’s life from the very beginning. When a mother cat gives birth, her first instinct is to clean her new born kitten and use her rough tongue to stimulate their breathing. When her kitten starts nursing, the mother will also lick its hind end to stimulate urination and defecation.
As the kitten grows, grooming becomes crucial not only for physical but also for emotional development. Kittens learn by observing and emulating their mother’s grooming behaviour, and they will start grooming themselves when they see their mother grooming her young. If the kitten is part of a litter, they will also groom and lick each other, strengthening the bond between siblings.
Healthier Skin & Coat
Grooming is not just about maintaining a cat’s cleanliness, but also about promoting a healthy skin and coat as it can remove and fleas and parasites that may be hiding in their fur, preventing skin irritation and infection.
Grooming and licking also helps stimulate circulation, which is crucial for promoting healthy skin and a shiny coat. Similarly as a cat is grooming themselves, the natural oils in their skin are evenly distributed throughout their coat, resulting in a shiny, healthy appearance.
Regulate Body Temperature
As much as cats love lounging in the warm sun, it’s essential for them to keep as the temperatures rises. This is especially important for senior or sick cats, or those with long coats. Fortunately, cats have a natural way to regulate their body temperature – through grooming.
In hot weather, you may notice your cat grooming themselves more often. This behaviour helps to distribute the saliva and skin oils, which can cool the skin when they evaporate. Additionally, grooming helps remove loose fur, preventing your cat from overheating as they shed more in warmer weather.
Can Cats Overgroom?
Overgrooming cats are very common and can be frustrating to treat as there is no quick solution to this behaviour. Behavioural overgrooming or “psychogenic alopecia” is a form of stress relief for many cats.
There are a number of reasons your cat may overgroom, from allergies and fleas to other stressors. Overgrooming can result in a self-inflicted injury, skin infections and thinning or balding patches of fur. It is important to consult your vet to rule our any health concerns and help develop a plan to understand and treat their over-grooming habits.
Why You Should Help Groom Your Cat
A clean cat is a happy cat and while most feline companions are great at cleaning themselves, maintaining a regular grooming routine offers a number of benefits, including:
Improves Coat Health
Regular grooming by owners can play a significant role in keeping your cat’s coat healthy and free of a variety of issues.
Cats with long fur are often prone to matting, even with regular self-grooming. This happens when the fur becomes tangled and can lead to discomfort skin irritation and even infections if left untreated. Regular brushing and combing can help prevent this and ensure your cat’s coast is knot free and healthy.
In addition to preventing matting, grooming can also reduce shedding, which is beneficial for both your cat’s health and the cleanliness of your home. Shedding can cause allergies and respiratory problems for both cats and humans, and regular grooming can help to keep loose hair under control.
Reduces Hair Balls
Cats can spend several hours a day licking their fur which can lead to them ingestin a significant amount of fur. Hairballs are formed when undigested hair collects in a cat’s stomach, causing discomfort, vomiting, and digestive issues. While this problem is more common in long-haired cats, all cats are susceptible to hairballs.
Grooming your cat regularly is an effective way to reduce the occurrence of hairballs and their related health issues by removing loose hair and preventing it from being ingested during grooming.
Identify Problems Early
Regular grooming is not only important for keeping your furry friend looking their best, but it also helps you stay on top of their health. During grooming sessions, you can give your cat a good once-over and check for any unusual bumps, lumps, or wounds on their skin.
This early detection can be crucial in preventing potential health issues from becoming more serious. Additionally, by regularly grooming your cat, you can also keep an eye out for external parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites. Catching these early on means you can get rid of them before they cause discomfort and irritation for your pet.
Grooming is not only a practical task, but can also be a meaningful and enjoyable way to spend time with your pet. While they may not always show it, many cats love affection and attention. Grooming is one of the best ways to build trust and create a deeper connection between you and your feline companion.
This one-on-one time also allows you to understand your cat’s behaviour and preferences, which can enhance your communication with them. Additionally, grooming can be a calming and relaxing experience for both you and your cat, and can serve as a way to de-stress and unwind.
How Often Should You Groom Your Pet?
Now that we understand the importance of grooming, how often should it be done? The answer depends on a few factors, such as the type of coat your cat has, their age and any health problems they may have.
If your cat has a short coat, you may only need to groom them once or twice a week. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose hair and dirt. You can also use a grooming mitt or glove to remove loose hair and massage your cat’s skin.
If your cat has a long coat, they will likely need grooming and brushing at least once a day to prevent tangling and matting.
Using a wide-toothed comb can help work out lose hair as well as and knots.
Old & Sick Cats
If your cat is older or has health problems such as arthritis or obesity, they may have trouble grooming themselves. In this case, regardless of their coat length, you should groom your cat more frequently to help keep their coat clean and healthy.
Types Of Grooming
Grooming your cat involves several different types of care, each serving a specific purpose in keeping your feline friend healthy and happy. In addition to regular brushing, other types of care include:
Although it is not always required, some cats may need a bath every few months or when they are significantly dirt or muddy. Bathing can help remove dirt, debris, and odours from your cat’s coat, but it’s important to use a cat-specific shampoo and rinse thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.
Nail trimming is an important aspect of grooming that should not be overlooked. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and even lead to health issues, so it’s important to trim your cat’s nails regularly. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, a professional groomer or veterinarian can help.
Cleaning Ears and Eyes
Cleaning your cat’s ears and eyes is also important for their overall health. Dirty ears can lead to infections, while dirty eyes can cause irritation and discomfort. Use a cotton ball or soft cloth to clean around the outer ear and eye areas, being careful not to insert anything into the ear canal or touch the eyeball directly.
Tips To Make Grooming Easier
Grooming can be a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be! With a few simple tips, you can make grooming a stress-free experience for both you and your furry friend. Here are some tips to make grooming easier:
It’s best to start grooming your cat when they are still kittens so that they can get used to the process. This will make grooming easier and less stressful for your cat as they grow older.
When grooming your cat, it’s important to be gentle and patient. Use soft strokes when brushing their fur and avoid pulling or tugging. If your cat becomes agitated, take a break and try again later.
Rewarding your cat with treats or praise can help make grooming a positive experience. Offer treats or verbal praise after each grooming session to reinforce good behaviour.
Regular grooming sessions can help your cat get used to the process and make it easier for you in the long run. Try to establish a grooming routine and stick to it as much as possible.
A Little Grooming Goes a Long Way!
To recap, grooming your cat is not just about maintaining their appearance but also an important aspect of keeping them healthy and happy. While many of our feline friends have the built-in tools to keep their coat clean and tidy, they still need our help with regular grooming.
Brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and cleaning their ears and eyes are all essential grooming practices that contribute to your cat’s overall health and well-being. If you think your cat may be overgrooming or suspect they may be suffering with a health issue, be sure to get in touch with the team at The House Call Vet. Our experienced veterinarians provide a range of services to help keep your cat in tip-top condition. Remember, a little grooming goes a long way!