The Importance of Cat Grooming

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Do cats groom themselves? Many cat owners believe their cat self-grooms and there is no need for professional grooming. Though the feline is practicing coat maintenance, cats are not actually cleaning themselves. Not including cat grooming in the pet’s overall care puts the feline at risk for severe matting, digestion problems and housing unwelcome parasites. 

This blog explains why cats don’t actually clean themselves and the reasons why they lick. Learn below why cat grooming is important, what to expect at the groomers and what you can do at home.  

The Myth of Cats Grooming Themselves

Are They Actually Clean? 

Cats do not groom themselves. They lick their coats. Their tongues are not the same as shampoo and water. They may get the visible dirt off of their body, but that does not mean they are clean. There is still bacteria, excessive oils and dead fur trapped within the coat.

are cats really clean after they self-groom, cats are still dirty after they lick themselves

Why do Cats Lick Themselves? 

Felines use their rough tongues to self-soothe, get out loose hair or to relieve itchiness. When the weather is cold or hot they lick themselves to cover their coat with saliva in order to regulate their body temperature. Other reasons cats lick themselves include suffering from allergies, having parasites or wanting to alter their scent. Learn more here

Why Cat Grooming is Important

Prevent Mats and Decrease Shedding 

When cats lick themselves, they spread saliva and natural oils throughout their coats. A buildup of those substances causes shedding hair to get stuck and tangled. The tight knots create pain and irritation for the cat. The feline may lick and bite even more, leading to an increased number of mats. 

Scheduled baths with a groomer help to prevent the buildup of saliva and natural oils. Washing also clears the skin of dirt and debris. Brushing removes the dead hair and distributes the natural oils evenly. This decreases shedding as it improves the health of the coat and takes out the loosened hair before the cat needs to completely shed it themselves. 

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Cat Claw Safety 

Without proper maintenance, long, sharp overgrown claws not only damage furniture but can also cause harm to humans and animals. Taking proper care of a cat’s nails not only helps to protect your possessions but also helps protect your skin and clothes from damaging scratches. What’s more, when a feline retracts their overgrown nails too quickly, they can cut their paws, and the open wound increases their chances of getting an infection. 

Groomers cut cat nails to prevent overgrowth. The majority of pet grooming salons, like Smoochie Pooch, include nail trimming in their basic grooming package. Keeping the cat on a consistent grooming schedule means the pet owner does not have to worry about their cat’s cute claws turning into sharp little weapons. 

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Bug Detection 

Parasites burrow their way inside a cat’s coat and become difficult to detect if the hair is matted. Frequent grooming appointments prevent the feline’s hair from tangling and allows for easier examination of the skin. Cat groomers are able to keep an eye out for any ticks and fleas hiding out on the animal. 

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Less Hairballs 

Hairballs happen when a cat licks themselves and swallows too much hair. The excess fur can form into a clump and block their digestive tract. The animal usually throws it up. Bathing and brushing limit the amount of loose hair on a cat’s coat. The feline may even lick less since they are clean and have healthier skin and fur. 

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Aging Felines 

As cats age they cannot twist and turn as easily as they did when they were younger, and they also tend to gain weight as their metabolism slows down. For these reasons, older cats may not be able to reach and lick all the necessary parts of their body. Taking your cat to the groomers ensures your pet is clean and comfortable, even in those hard-to-reach areas. 

Allergy Reduction

When humans are allergic to cats, it’s not actually the feline’s fur that causes a person’s hypersensitivities – it’s the saliva in their dander. When cats lick themselves, microscopic allergens in the cat’s saliva are transferred onto their fur and skin. This saliva then dries on a cat’s skin cells. Dander (the dead skin cells) is shed from the animal so they may produce new skin cells. 

Frequent bathing and brushing a cat reduces the amount of dander on the animal, and less dander means less exposure to allergens. Grooming helps make your home a more pleasant place for those with cat allergies.

What to Expect at the Groomers 

At Smoochie Pooch, a cat groomer comes out to personally meet with each pet and their owner. The groomer discusses the age and temperament of the feline to understand how to handle the cat in the best way. They next ask if the owner wants a shave, trim or just the bath and brush out. After getting the information they need, the cat groomer gives the pet owner a pick up time and brings the cat to their grooming station. 

before and after cat grooming, professional cat grooming

First, the cat’s nails are trimmed. Then, if requested by the pet owner, shaving is done. Typically, the sanitary area and paw pads are shaved out. The cat then receives a relaxing bath and shampoo followed by a drying session. When the hair is dry, the groomer trims the cat’s hair per the customer’s requests – either cutting length or trimming specific areas. The final step in the grooming process involves gently cleaning the cat’s ears with cotton and solution. 

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Cat Grooming at Home Between Visits 

Purchase the Right Brushes 

A fine-tooth comb works great for a cat’s face and feet. This type of comb also helps with working out mats if they are not too tight. A wide-tooth comb or slicker brush is best for long- and thick-haired cats. For short-haired cats, a rubber brush is ideal. 

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The Right Techniques 

Using the right techniques is important when brushing a cat at home. Start with the areas where the feline enjoys being petted. Brush and comb in the direction of the hair growth. Give the cat treats to distract them and to help them associate brushing with a positive experience. 

Choose times when the home is calm and quiet to brush the feline. This helps the animal to not link at-home grooming to a stressful environment. A content cat sits better than one that is anxious about the noise and activity happening in the room. 

Preparing Your Cat for a Positive Experience with a Groomer

Handling Your Cat 

It’s important to frequently handle your cat by touching their paws, ears and tail. These are the areas of the body that are regularly groomed. It is much easier for a cat groomer to perform their job when a cat is used to being petted and touched in those areas. 

Acquaint Your Cat with their Carrier 

Try to develop a positive association for your cat with their pet carrier. Leave the carrier out at all times to help desensitize the cat. Encourage the feline to associate the carrier to a den by placing their favorite toys, a comfortable bed and delicious treats inside. After the cat feels comfortable in the carrier, practice zipping it shut and moving it with the cat inside. Once the feline remains calm throughout the process, place the carrier in the car. Note: the majority of pet grooming salons will not accept cats unless they are transported in a carrier. 

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How Often Should Cats be Groomed? 

The rule of thumb is to bring a cat in every four to six weeks for grooming. Triple-coated breeds such as Siberians and Neva Masquerades need to be on a very consistent schedule because they get matted the easiest. Some cats, like Korat and American shorthair breeds, may be able to go up to 12 weeks between visits. Talk to your cat groomer about the recommended grooming appointment frequency for your specific cat. 

before and after cat grooming, cat grooming

Keep Both Your Cat and Home Clean 

Regular grooming is important for cats of all breeds, as they cannot fully clean themselves on their own. Let’s review some of the reasons why a consistent grooming routine is beneficial for you and your cat.

  • A groomed feline reduces both shedding and damage to furniture. 
  • Grooming reduces the risk of clogging their intestinal tract with hairballs and throwing up on your carpet. 
  • Trimming paw pads minimizes kitty litter and pet waste tracked throughout the house. 
  • Scheduled bathing reduces cat dander that causes cat allergies in humans. 
  • Flea and ticks may be caught more quickly, preventing a full-on infestation on your cat or in your home. 
  • Aging felines don’t have to give up feeling clean when they can’t twist and turn anymore. 
  • Overall, grooming increases the health of the cat and the cleanliness of the home.