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As a pet parent, you want to keep your kitty clean and looking good, right?
Having the proper cat grooming tools on hand is essential to having a snazzy cat. Although cats are meticulous self-groomers and work hard to keep themselves clean, they need assistance from their humans to keep them in tip-top shape.
"Grooming is about more than just keeping your cat looking good," explains VetBabble. "Grooming your cat on a regular basis will also help you to keep an eye on its health. And grooming your cat can even help to minimize feline health issues such as digestive problems caused by hairballs." Additionally, regular brushing removes dirt, dead hair, and dander, all of which contribute to unhealthy skin, and it prevents your cat from getting matted hair that's unmanageable, at which point you'd need the assistance of a professional groomer. Brushing also helps remove the loose hair in a controlled environment that you can easily dispose of, rather than finding stuck to furniture, clothes and other wanted areas.
Because it's not a one-brush-suits-all situation, it can be tricky to know what you need and why. There are a lot of products from which to choose, so here's a handy guide to get you started on your quest for a well-groomed cat.
Brushes and Combs
All cats need to be brushed, even short-hairs, but not all cats like to be brushed. If you've ever been scratched while trying to groom your cat, you know this to be true.
Choosing the right tool for your furry friend's coat type is the first step to successful grooming and will go a long way to keeping you out of harm's way. Always brush or comb in the direction in which the hair grows.
For a short-hair cat, once a week use a fine-tooth comb to remove any debris, starting at her head and down through her tail. A metal comb works well, but, as with any grooming tool, use gentle strokes to avoid discomfort or injury. When you've finished combing, follow up with a soft-bristle cat brush to remove any loose hair.
Grooming a long-haired cat requires a little more maintenance, every one to three days, but the payoff of a healthy and well-groomed cat is worth the investment. Start with the legs and tummy, moving toward the head using a wide-tooth comb to work out the knots.
For thick, fluffy tails, Trupanion recommends you "part the tail down the middle and gently comb through the fur on each side. Any mats in the fur can often be separated by hand with the help of a little talcum powder; however, if you're struggling to untangle stubborn knots, try separating the fur using a mat-splitter." As with a short-hair cat, use a soft-bristle brush to remove excess fur.
Brushes are also a good way to get your cat's coat nice and soft. Because brushes don't pull at the hair as much as combs can, it is likely your cat will enjoy the experience a little more. In fact, some cats may respond favorably to this as it provides the same comfort and feeling as being petted.
Other Cat Grooming Care
In addition to taking care of her coat, other routine maintenance for your cat includes brushing her teeth, trimming her claws and giving her a bath (yes, it's possible). As with coat-combing, it's important to start slow and work at a pace that's comfortable for you and your cat.
Grooming your cat won't break the bank, either. Many pet parents have great success with combs, brushes, and toothbrushes found in the (human) baby aisle. Bonus: these gentle, safe tools can be less expensive than those specifically marketed as cat grooming tools.
It's best to accustom your cat to a grooming routine when she's a kitten, but it's never too late to start with cats of all ages. Begin gradually, just a few minutes at a time, until your fur baby is comfortable with the tools. With time and patience, you'll have a well-groomed cat, and the process will become a relaxing and enjoyable bonding experience for the two of you.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.