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Is brushing part of the daily - or at least weekly - grooming routine for you and your cat? If not, you may change your mind after reading this article.
Brushing your cat should be a regular part of your routine. It's good for your cat's coat, as well as for her physical and mental well-being. Hey, it's even good for you! Here's why.
Why do cats groom?
Cats are famous for their self-grooming rituals. Cats use their paws to reach those places they can’t reach directly with their tongue. They lick the paw and immediately use the wet paw to groom their head and ears. There is something meditatively soothing about watching a cat meticulously and thoroughly licking its own body.
And in case you're wondering, we have an entire article about why cats groom each other. It's worth a read - and shows the importance of grooming for the social life of our felines.
So, should you even groom your cat? Can’t the cat just take care of its own grooming needs without any human intervention?
While feral cats and cats living outdoors can often manage their own grooming needs to some extent, we do actually have an important role as owners.
The Benefits of Grooming Your Cat
There are several good reasons for you to establish a grooming routine, involving your cat’s coat, claws, teeth and sometimes ears and eyes as well.
1. Getting the cat used to being touched and handled
Grooming procedures require tactile interaction; you touch your cat extensively and frequently as you groom her. Brushing or combing the coat is fairly similar to petting, yet clipping claws, brushing a cat’s teeth or cleaning their ears, require a different kind of handling. Getting your cat used to that kind of handling could help you in the future, should you need to medicate the cat or otherwise handle sensitive areas.
2. Checking your cat for changes and abnormalities
Grooming gives you the opportunity to take a close look at your cat and feel her over. It allows you to notice early changes in coat condition, tooth and gum disease, dirt inside the ears, increased sensitivity in a paw or a limb, or a suspicious lump or swelling. Early detection is key when it comes to many kinds of cancer and other medical conditions.
3. Enhancing the feline-human bond
One of a cat’s earliest experience is that of being licked over by the Mother cat right after birth, and from then on a regular basis. Cats often groom each other to show affection and reinforce social bonds. In fact, many cats will lick back when the mood strikes them, especially in response to petting, and some cats go as far as grooming a favorite person’s hair. By the same token, when you groom your cat’s coat, you are creating a sense of closeness and trust.
4. Preventing excessive shedding in your home
Yes, cats can groom themselves, but you can minimize the amount of loose fur in your household by grooming the coat with a good cat brush or comb. This is especially important in the springtime when cats tend to shed more.
5. Special Needs cats need special grooming attention
Paralyzed cats, or those with motor problems, may rely on human grooming to keep them in the right condition. Arthritis can prevent a cat from properly stretching to groom those hard to reach places too. For the same reason, obese and senior cats may require more assistance in grooming from their caregiver as well.
6. Special breeds with special needs
While all longhair cats could use additional combing and brushing, some purebred cats have more specific grooming needs. If you own a purebred cat or plan on getting one, you should take the time to study the breed and its specific grooming routines. Flat-faced Persians, Himalayan and Exotics, for example, often need help with keeping their eyes clean. Some shorter coats may need special care too, with occasional combing for dense coats.
7. Claw and tooth care
Living indoors-only and feeding on processed foods means you should pay special attention to claw and tooth care. That applies to most if not all pet cats. Claws don’t get as worn out as they would in a feral cat living outdoors, and thus may need trimming. Teeth may accrue plaque unless cleaned, and we now know that feeding kibble does not solve that particular problem.
Finally, we have some recommendations for the tools of the trade. If we convinced you that you should start grooming your cat, you need to take things slowly and very gradually get Kitty used to the new routine.
These pet brushes can set you off to a great start!
Choosing the best brush for your cat may take some experimenting. As the saying goes, different strokes for different cats! You may need to try several options before finding the one which "hits the spot" with your kitty.
This double-sided brush offers two options: gentle nylon bristles for a more tender touch on one side, and a set of rounded wires on the other. It's great for cats with medium length coats that may benefit from rotating between different levels of brushing intensity.
With its soft pad and flexible thin pins, this brush is generally gentle enough for shorthaired kitties as long as you control the amount of applied pressure.
From our member reviews: - "My cats love to be brushed and this slicker brush is very gentle on the skin."
When you use this brush, the evenly spaced rubber pins create a unique massaging effect. It's like having 32 tiny fingers gently weave their way through your cat's coat. The manufacturer says that short, quick strokes will remove dirt and debris while long, flowing strokes will smooth the coat and massage the skin.
The Zoom Groom is a popular choice among many cat owners. Its unique design offers thick long rubber spikes that are evenly spread across the cat-shaped base. Some consider it to be more of a massage tool than a brush but it does collect at least some dead hair and excess oils.
From our member reviews: - "Like a kitty massage. Gets some loose fur off of a short hair cat. Good for kitty bellies."
Some cats just don't like brushes. They may be ok with a grooming glove though, such as this one. The spikes are small, making this a possible solution for cats with sensitive skins.
Amazon reviewers love the Groom Genie with its 4-inch-long base. It has bristles in three different lengths for combing, brushing and massaging all at once. According to reviews, this brush is a hit even with cats that don't usually appreciate being groomed.
Care to tell us about your cat's favorite brush? Leave us a comment here, start a thread in the Cat Care & Grooming Forum or add your review in the product page!
Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!