Photo courtesy of Beth Rex
Why do cats need to be groomed?
The common misconception is that cats groom themselves and do not need
grooming. This is far from the truth! Take a typical day in a cat’s life for
example. Kitty wakes in the morning to eat a bowl of mashed up canned food
(typically some sort of fish flavor) Once she has finished her delicious meal, Kitty
takes it upon herself to “wash” her face then off she goes to lick her paws and
spread her fishy breath and saliva all over herself.
After a nice long self-grooming session she’s ready to visit the litter box. She walks in, does her business, and promptly uses her claws and paws to deeply bury her feces. Seeing a pattern yet? Throughout the day Kitty enjoys running around, playing on top of the kitchen counters, lying in your bed, hiding under the sofa, playing in the tub or toilet and napping literally anywhere that seems comfortable at the moment. Those paws that were only moments ago in the litter box and covered in saliva are now all over your house. As if that alone was not enough of a reason to regularly bathe your cat let’s talk about the skin and coat of a cat.
Cats are oily creatures.
These oils build up on their coats and if not removed can lead to other problems such as matting. When a cat sheds, the shedding hairs can get stuck in this oil, or sebum, preventing them from actually falling off the cat. Over time these hairs build up, wrap around themselves, and turn into matting. Simply brushing or combing your cat daily may not be enough. While combing your cat can help remove some of the shedding hairs and matting it does nothing to remove the oils in the coat that are causing these shed hairs to become stuck on the cat. This is why both long and short hair cats can become matted. It is not due to the length of the coat but instead to the oils building up on the cat causing the excess hair to build up and become stuck on the oils in the coat. A matted cat is not only uncomfortable and unhappy but also in danger of having additional health and behavioral issues as a result of their matting. Matting prevents airflow to the skin and pulls the skin, which can cut of circulation. When not promptly addressed over time the matts can start to bond to each other and form what is known as a pelt. The pelt is a solid matted coat, which forms a sort of cast around the cat encasing them in and tightening daily. This is extremely painful and could even lead to death.
The most common issues people tend to have with their cats are hairballs, shedding, clawing / scratching, matting and generally a dirty, smelly cat. All of these issues can be addressed with regular grooming.
Hairballs are something a lot of cat owners have learned to live with but are not a normal part of owning a cat and can be quite dangerous. The cat licking itself and ingesting loose or shedding hairs causes hairballs. As per advice of a veterinarian or other pet professional a cat owner may decide to utilize an over the counter remedy for reducing hairballs. Have you ever wondered what these products are or how they work? The majority of these products contain various types of oils such as mineral oil and petroleum. These are neither healthy nor safe to give on a regular basis. These products are designed to help your cat pass their hairballs which can lead to other complications such as intestinal blockages, trouble using the litter box, and diarrhea. Regular trips to your local cat groomer or home bathing, combing and blow drying will reduce the amount of oils in your cats coat thus allowing hairs to shed naturally off your cat vs. staying trapped in the coat. In addition to removing the greasy build up on your cat, the bathing and drying process itself will remove any coat that’s not attached or that may otherwise end up being licked of by your cat.
If you are unfamiliar with “The Paw Project” it is a
non-profit organization created to educate the general public on the dangers of
declawing. Many cat owners have opted to declaw their cats assuming it is an
easy fix for kitty scratching up their furniture, clothing, or kids. It has
actually been proven that declawing more often than not leads to a very unhappy
cat. Litter box issues, behavioral issues, and arthritis are just a few of the
problems that can arise after declawing a cat. You may be wondering what any of this has to do with grooming,
but keeping your cats claws trimmed is a much safer and healthier solution than
Like canines felines need manicures too. Long toenails are sharp and can become hung up on things in your home, or worse, your skin! Assuming your cat is an indoor only kitty, your cat is not likely using their claws to climb trees, catch prey or defend themselves from predators. In an outdoor cat these activities help keep the cats nails at a reasonable length and maintained. An indoor cat typically only uses a scratching post (or furniture) to help shed old claw sheaths. Cats that do not use a scratching post as well as cats that claw everything in the home can both benefit from regular nail trimming. Keeping your cats nails trimmed ensures they do not grow into the paw pads, they are not leaving scratch marks on your furniture and they are less likely to accidently scratch your skin. A quick 10 minute trip to your local cat groomer or veterinarian about every 4-6 weeks is all it takes to keep your cats nails under control. In addition to nail trimming most cat grooming salons offer acrylic nail caps that can be placed over the nail to provide a soft coating on the nail. This is a great option for elderly feline owners with thin skin and don’t want to risk having kitty’s nail tearing their skin and drawing blood.
In the list of complaints a stinky cat ranks pretty high on the list for reasons why you should groom your cat. Circling back to your cats daily activities cats are generally pretty dirty and the build up of these daily encounters with dirt and bacteria can build up in their coat causing an odor. Soiled litter becomes stuck on the paws and claws and urine and fecal matter can become stuck on the tail or rear. These are the same paws and tails that often like to snuggle up next to your face at night. Yuck! A lot of times people become accustom to their cats odor and do not realize just how much they need a bath. You will hear people say “Cats hate water” and this couldn’t be further from the truth! Most cats actually enjoy a warm bath and even those that don’t certainly do enjoy the way they feel after it is over. Cats love being clean! Urine saliva, dirt and oil built up in the coat can make the cat feel heavy and dirty. Once it is removed air can more easily reach the skin and the added weight of excess coat and oil are gone. Add a sanitary trim to prevent fecal matter build up on your cats rear and you’ve got one clean happy cat who is not constantly licking their rears after every trip to the litter box to attempt to remove any stuck on poop.
While there are certain breeds of cats that are born knowing a trip to the groomers is inevitable, such as the Persian, Sphynx and Maine Coon, just to name a few; every cat and cat owner can benefit from regular grooming. Bathing can reduce the build up of the proteins in saliva on the coat, dander and shedding hair, which can help with allergic reactions to your cat. It can also reduce odors and keep your cat clean and hygienic. Combing can help you bond with your cat as well as eliminate painful matting and regular nail trims can prevent nails from becoming over grown or curling into the paw pads. For further information on finding the right Groomer for your cat or maintaining your cat at home feel free to reach out to one of our Pure Paws Cat Groomers.