Cats love to be clean and in all likelihood, you will see your cat groom themselves quite often, but it isn’t just to keep those fabulous coats dirt free. Grooming is such an important part of a cat's daily personal and mental wellbeing.
The anatomy of a cat's tongue is like that of a specialist detangling comb, it is covered in small backward curved spines, and is able to penetrate through every layer of fur to the skin beneath. This unique feature helps to facilitate multiple health benefits.
● Removes dead fur which helps to smooth the coat helping the body to insulate more efficiently
● Promotes circulation
● Removes parasites and beasties
● Regulates body temperature by spreading saliva across the coat which evaporates, cooling your cat down
● Prevents nasty hairballs
● Distributes the cat's all important personal scent or “cat perfume”. This can be likened to an invisible comfort blanket that reduces stress and promotes security!
Many short haired cats require very little help and generally do quite a good job themselves. Having said this, it would still be a good idea to introduce a weekly grooming session to get your cat used to the idea of being brushed and help keep their coat in the best condition.
Long and semi-long-haired cats are more high maintenance and need regular assistance from their human owners. Long haired cats have a much denser undercoat which can become prone to matting if it is unable to shed properly. If you own a long haired cat, you should be brushing daily. Matting may still occur, particularly in tricky areas such as the armpits or underbelly, but by brushing daily this will limit the number and severity of the mattes and make them easier to tease out.
Hairless or curly coated cats need grooming too!
Hairless “Sphynx” cats may not have fur to worry about but what they do have is very oily skin and lots of skin folds where dirt can become embedded. These oils can build up and cause irritation so weekly bathing is a must!
Curly or “Rexed” coats do not have an undercoat and do not shed nearly as much as their furry cousins. They should still be brushed twice weekly with a comb designed specifically for their unique fur.
With any cat, grooming may only be tolerated for a short time or perhaps not at all. It is not recommended to persevere beyond your cat's tolerance point, so if your cat is looking uncomfortable or agitated, stop what you are doing and try again later. Some cats need time to build on their “trust with the brush”. To help get them used to the idea you could start by gentle massage or try to gently tease any tangles out with your fingers first.
Top Tip! Grooming should always be a pleasurable experience. If it becomes a stressful one it could create inadvertent issues with your cat's own personal grooming habits.
Almost all cats, both short and long haired, will need help with grooming as they get older. As a cat ages, their grooming regime may become restricted by underlying health conditions, such as arthritis or dental issues. Helping your cat with their daily grooming is just as important as treating any underlying health conditions that may inhibit it and will make for a much happier and healthier cat.
Top Tip! Regardless of your cat’s age, if you notice a reduction in grooming time or if your cats’ coat is starting to look shabby or unkempt this is usually a good sign that something is amiss and a trip to the vets is probably needed.