Although we think of cats as low-maintenance pets that only require brushing and nail trimming from time to time, the truth is that your cat needs a routine of grooming and cleaning.
In this article I show you how you can do a regular health check (to complement regular vet visits) at home and how to groom and clean your cat effectively.
1. Routine check of your cat’s health status
What and when you should check your cat
You can take the opportunity to do it when your cat gets on your lap, but also try to perform a thorough check at least once a month. This allows you to discover any possible health problem in your cat, but do not forget that these “home” checks cannot replace the necessary visits to the veterinarian for a professional health check.
Here I indicate what it is advisable to check routinely to take care of your cat’s health.
Your cat’s ears
Look inside your cat’s ears to detect any problems, watch for dirt, excess wax, traces of blood, wounds, discharge or inflammation. Also of concern are ear mites , which are harder to see but often manifest as a foul-smelling red / brown discharge from the ear. As a symptom, cats with mites tend to scratch their ears a lot.
Although a little wax is normal, there should be no unpleasant odors. Also look around the edges of the ears for marks, bumps, thickening, scaling, redness, or lesions.
The nose of a healthy cat should be moist and smooth. Gently touch your cat’s nose to check for bumps, bumps, or swelling. Ulcers are another thing to look out for, along with any other marks or wounds that are taking a long time to heal. Any discharge from the nose could be a sign of infection.
Check your cat’s eyes
The cat’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of redness, swelling, or discharge. If you have any of these signs, it could be a sign of infection.
Monitor the hygiene of the mouth, teeth and gums
In healthy cats, the teeth should be clean, white, and free of chips. Check the gums for sores or lesions. Your gums should look pink and healthy without redness, swelling, or bleeding.
If possible, check the back of your mouth for ulcers , inflammatory lesions, or lumps. Your cat’s breath should not give off an unpleasant odor, if so take it to the vet for a checkup.
Try to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis, finger-shaped brushes and pet toothpastes are good for this.
Check that your cat’s breathing is even and effortless. If there is wheezing, or he seems to have breathing difficulties and an erratic rhythm, see your vet.
Fur and fur of your pet
The good health of your cat can be confirmed by how its coat of fur and fur is shown. If your cat is chewing, scratching, or licking excessively, it may be time for a vet checkup.
Stress, parasites, injuries or allergies could be having an impact on your cat’s health and should be examined.
Trimming your cat’s nails
The claws of cats, especially when they are indoor cats, need a regular cut. Check that they are not if they are too long, and if you have experience in cutting them, cut them yourself. If you’re not sure you know how to do it, take it to a professional groomer who can safely do it.
Palpate the body and check movements
As you pet your cat, feel for lumps, bumps, or swelling. Similarly, watch for any signs of pain or tension when you touch certain parts of their body.
Watch your cat move and check for signs of stiffness or pain.
2. Trim your cat’s nails
Why trim your cat’s claws?
With nail clipping you reduce the risk of damage to furniture; It allows you to play and interact with your cat without having to worry about scratches it may cause you.
There are also benefits for the health of the cat, since by preventing them from being very sharp you can prevent them from getting caught on carpets, sofas or other objects in the house. For its trim you should go to a pet groomer or learn how to do it yourself.
How to use cat nail clippers
When buying a nail clipper, choose one of the right quality and size. Nail clippers for cats and dogs are not the same, and you should always choose a clipper for cats to avoid harming your pet.
The first thing you should do is get your cat used to the clippers. If you’ve used it with your cat since it was a kitten, it should be easy for you. However, if you start clipping an older cat’s claw, try to do it gradually. Start by getting your cat used to touching and handling its paws.
Gently touch its paws. For any signs of negative body language, such as ears bent back, tail wagging, or other signs of tension, let your cat relax. When he’s comfortable touching his paws, move on to pressing on his paws to show his nails.
It starts with one leg, clipping its nails. Sometimes your cat will only allow you to do one or two in a session. Leave it and try to do one more the next day, and so on.
3. Brush and comb your cat
Brushing your cat reduces the appearance of hairballs and prevents tangles, and allows you to find ticks, wounds, bumps and skin problems.
Cats “groom” their fur by licking it, but you can help your cat and keep his coat in perfect condition with the following tips.
When to brush your cat
It is best to start from a young age, as this allows your kitten to get used to brushing. Younger kittens have less grooming experience, so they will benefit from your help.
Also older cats may need extra help to get to certain places.
Long-haired cats may need to be brushed every day to avoid tangles, short-haired cats usually require less maintenance.
How to brush your cat
Start slowly, aiming to brush your entire body, including areas that may seem hard to reach. If your cat resists the brushing session, don’t try to force it. Instead, you could try brushing only part of her hair at different times of the day for as long as your cat is comfortable.
Some tips for a successful brushing would be:
- Start the brushing routine when it is a kitten, this way it will get used to it.
- Choose brushes appropriate for the length of your cat’s hair, and you can also use hand-held grooming gloves. Softer brushes tend to make cats more comfortable, so you can start with soft brushes and work your way up to harder brushes, which tend to be more effective.
- Use human toothbrushes for hard-to-reach areas.
- Start soft to get your cat in a good mood, and start with the back of the brush to get her used to the brush.
- Make sure the room or space is quiet, relaxed, and free from other stimuli or excessive noise.
- Then give her treats so she associates brushing with something positive.
4. Bathing your cat
Cats lick and groom themselves as a form of grooming, and they are generally picky about self-cleaning, so regular brushing is usually sufficient.
However, there will be times when your furry needs a little more cleaning, for example, when it has come into contact with something sticky or smelly, or it has become very dirty.
Most cats hate bathing and it causes them stress, so be sure to do it right, and if you must, and prepare yourself by having the proper tools and supplies ready.
Shampoos to use
Do not use human shampoo on cats, as they are not suitable for their hair and can dry out their skin. Get one that is formulated for cats.
For cats with dry skin, try a dry skin shampoo and conditioner. You can also use flea or tick control shampoos and shedding and hairball shampoos.
You may want to check the label of any pet product to make sure it is safe for your cat.
Preparing your supplies
Make sure you have everything ready before bathing your cat. The products you will need:
- Cat shampoo (and cat conditioner if needed).
- Comb or brush for cats with longer hair.
- Jug or other container for rinsing.
- Rubber mat or towel, placed in the sink or bathtub to prevent slipping.
Tips for bathing your cat
- Begin by brushing your cat to remove as much dirt as possible.
- Then fill the tub or sink with plenty of warm water, never hot.
- Sometimes the help of treats or another person to hold your cat can make the process easier. If he bites or is very distressed, do not bathe him and consult your vet for advice.
- Then apply a small amount of cat shampoo and warm water only to the dirty area. If you want to wash the whole body, avoid washing the head and only lather the rest of the body. .
- If you want to clean her face, use a damp towel. Do not put his head in the water or splash water on his face. Only use a damp towel on your cat’s face and ears.
- To rinse it off, fill the pitcher with some lukewarm water and cover the eyes and ears while you rinse the rest of its body. You can use a conditioner. Make sure to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner well, to avoid swallowing the remaining shampoo when grooming.
- Finally, place your cat on a towel and let the excess water wash off. Leave it to dry in a warm space without drafts after bathing, avoid the hair dryer, as the sound can scare it.
- Be patient and calm throughout the entire process.
Alternatives to the water bath
You can go to a professional groomer to bathe your kitten if he hates bathing, but another alternative is to use bath towels designed for cats. You can also use them to clean your cat in hard-to-reach areas, if it has a dirty spot, or has been unable to groom itself due to illness.
When buying cat bath wipes, always choose one with natural ingredients and no chemicals. Do spot tests to make sure your cat is not allergic before using the wipes. Only use them when necessary, as you can dry out your cat’s fur if you use them too often.
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