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How to bathe and clean your cat at home

How to bathe and clean your cat at home

Cats are keen self-groomers. In fact, they spend one third of their waking hours grooming themselves. However it’s important that you brush, comb and even bathe your cat to reduce matted hair, the risk of hairballs, and to promote a healthy coat.

Your cat’s self-grooming ritual

Each cat will have their own particular grooming ritual and this does more for them than simply keeping them clean. Self-grooming is a soothing ritual for cats that helps them relax. That barbed tongue of theirs is adept at removing loose hair. It may also help to spread their natural oils over their coat, which gives cats that natural lustre and healthy look. Cats’ tongues also help to remove fleas from their coat, but this alone is not enough to protect them from the parasites in your area. Speak to your local Animates team member to find the right products to protect your cat from fleas, ticks and worms. 

Can I bathe and groom my cat at home?

Yes, bathing and grooming your cat at home can help reduce many problems, such as matted and redundant fur which can lead to hairballs. It is also a great way to manage the amount of cat hair that is shed in the house. The best time to introduce grooming is when they’re a kitten so they become familiar and comfortable with this process. Groom your cat at home when they are in a relaxed mood, for example after a nap.

Things to focus on when grooming your cat are:

  • Brushing and combing your cat
  • Bathing your cat if necessary
  • Checking their teeth
  • Checking their ears
  • Trimming their nails if necessary

Of course, if bathing and grooming your cat seems like too much of a task for you, bring your pet into your local Animates Vetcare clinic where the professionals will be happy to do this for you.

How to brush and comb your cat

Even though cats are skilled self-groomers, they still need your help to keep their coat in the best condition so it’s important that you devote some time each day to grooming them with dedicated cat brushes and combs. This is best done several times a week when they are kittens. Most adult cats will also enjoy this pampering experience. Begin grooming your cat with long, gentle strokes down your cat’s back to get them comfortable, and then move onto their legs, head and tummy.

The benefits of brushing your cat include:

  • Distributing their natural oils, helping them maintain their healthy skin and coat
  • Addressing any tangled or knotted fur before becoming too matted
  • Checking for parasites like fleas and ticks
  • Checking for any skin abnormalities or ear problems
  • Spending time deepening the bond with your cat
  • Desensitising your cat to being handled
  • Reducing the amount of hair your cat will swallow, and therefore the formation of hairballs

For short-haired cats, a simple groom with a slicker brush or bristle brush to spread their coat’s natural oils and enhance the shine will be enough. Medium and long-haired breeds should receive a little more attention in the grooming department, so start with a moulting comb or pin brush to gently remove tangles before switching to a finishing brush. Gentle, slow and steady is the key.

The aim is to comb away any loose hair to avoid the likelihood of hairballs, and to prevent matting. Your daily grooming ritual is also a great opportunity for you to monitor your cat’s health by inspecting their skin for ticks, lumps, wounds or other skin concerns. If your cat’s fur is excessively mated, it’s best to take them into local Animates Vetcare clinic where professionals can remove the mats and help you clean delicate areas of your cat such as their eyes, ears and mouth.

It’s rare that your cat will need a full bath (and some cats may never need a bath), but their curious natures can get them into sticky situations every once in a while.

If it's necessary to bathe your cat, follow these steps:

  • Add a small amount of warm water to a laundry sink or bathtub. A non-slip mat maybe be of benefit for your cat to stand on
  • Slowly and calmly, use a sponge or similar item to wet your cat
  • Use a cat shampoo to lather over their whole body. Avoid getting the shampoo in your cat’s eyes.
  • Gently and thoroughly rinse your cat, without wetting your cat’s eyes and the inside of their ears
  • Gently dry your cat with a towel
  • Reassure your cat through each step of their bath and be sure to reward their good behaviour with healthy cat treats.

If your cat only has a small stain on their fur, you can do a spot clean with grooming wipes, which is less stressful on your cat than a full bath. A great option, especially for cats that are not a fan of being bathed, is waterless shampoo, which removes dirt and deodorises your pet. After brushing your cat, simply massage the dry shampoo into their fur, give the absorbent ingredients time to set, and then comb it out.

Make sure to check their ears
You should regularly check your cat’s ears to look for signs of infection, bad odours, increased scratching of the ear, dark debris around the ear and excessive ear wax. If your cat displays any of these symptoms you should take them to your local Animates Vetcare clinic for a check-up. Home cleaning of cats’ ears can be fraught with complications and should only be done under the guidance and recommendation of your Animates Vetcare Vet.

It depends on your pet’s lifestyle, but, in most cases it’s unnecessary to trim their nails. Outdoor cats need their natural claws for defence and climbing, so trimming them isn’t helpful.
Trimming may be required for some indoor and ageing cats. As they become less active in their senior years, their claws stop being ‘naturally trimmed’ outdoors and can become too long. It is important to trim older cats’ overgrown claws as they can curve and if they penetrate into the pad, it can sometimes cause an infection.
Cats’ dewclaws on their front legs may need monitoring & occasional trimming, as they touch the ground less they don’t get worn down as much as they grow.
Cats scratch nearly every day of their lives, as it is a natural feline instinct to keep their claws in tip-top shape. The act of scratching removes the old nails and allows the new ones to emerge. It’s also a way for your cat to mark their territory, as cats have scent glands on their paws.
Tip: Providing your cat with a suitable scratching outlet, like a scratch pole, is helpful for claw health, and a must-have for any cat owner – particularly ones that value their furniture!
Remember, it’s unnecessary to trim sharp cat claws – cats need them to climb safely and protect themselves! If you have any concerns about your cat’s nails, it’s best to speak to your vet.

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