The necessary supplies and instructions for a grooming session vary depending on whether your cat is longhaired or shorthaired.
You'll need the following items:
- Wide-toothed metal comb
- Wire-bristle brush
- Fine-toothed metal comb (some combs have wide teeth on one side and fine teeth on the other)
- Small flea comb or clean toothbrush
- Start by running your fingers through your cat's coat. This should help the cat relax, and will tip you off to tangles or any other problems.
- Take the wide-toothed comb and first run it through your cat's top side, from head to tail. Then use it to comb the hair under its chin and on the chest. Next, use light pressure to comb the most sensitive areas: stomach, insides of legs, and under the tail. In each area, use the comb to gently tease out any minor tangles or small mats (clumps of matted hair). (Note: If your cat has large mats or many of them, don't attempt to remove them yourself. Bring them to your vet's attention and he or she will remove them safely, possibly anesthetizing your pet to minimize discomfort.)
- Go over your cat's coat with the wire-bristle brush to remove any dead hair.
- Take the fine-toothed comb and repeat the process in the same order as you did with the wide-toothed comb.
- Finish by gently combing the hair on your cat's face with the flea comb or toothbrush. Be careful to avoid the eye area.
You'll need the following items:
- Fine-toothed metal comb
- Natural-bristle or rubber brush
- Take the fine-toothed metal comb and work it over your cat's coat, moving from head to tail.
- Do the same with the rubber or natural-bristle brush, following the direction in which the hair lies.
- Keep your cat's coat shiny between groomings by simply stroking it with your clean hands.
A specialized brush, sometimes called a deshedding tool (it looks like a miniature rake), picks up where the brush left off to help prevent the underlying fur on your cat from becoming matted and tangled. The tool works its way past a cat's long topcoat to reach and remove the dead, dense, already loose hair underneath. The outer layer is left undamaged, and the skin underneath becomes clean and free from dirty, uncomfortable masses.
However, the tool is not equipped to remove hair that is still connected. So use it before tangling becomes a serious issue for your cat, or after existing mats have been removed. Before using, first make sure your cat's skin doesn't have any cuts or sores as a result of the matting. If this is a concern, see your vet and make sure any wounds are properly healed before proceeding with the grooming process.
In addition to daily grooming, there are other steps you can take to help minimize your cat's shedding and hair balls. Here are a few suggestions:
- Choose a cat food specifically formulated to help control hair balls. These foods offer vegetable fiber to assist with moving hair through a cat's digestive system, along with other essentials such as fatty acids that support a cat's skin and coat. Examples include Hill's Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food and Iams ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care.
- Purchase remedies specifically for hair balls. Always check with your vet for a diagnosis and subsequent recommendation for a particular food brand or medicine before starting a new diet for your cat or treating it for a condition.
- Use preventive housekeeping measures to minimize your frustration. Invest in easy-to-wash covers for your furniture and car seats and vacuum, dust, and sweep frequently.
- If your cat itches and scratches excessively, check with your vet to see if it has allergies or fleas, then treat accordingly.
- A committed cat-lover always keeps a lint brush at the ready for quick use before heading out the door.
Continued on page 3: Bath-Time Tips