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    A Grooming Routine

    A Grooming Routine

    It's important to introduce a grooming routine as soon as a cat or a kitten comes into the household. In this way, she will quickly get used to the idea and not only tolerate the procedure but also learn to enjoy it. One of the additional benefits of such hands-on attention is that should the necessity arise to administer any oral or topical medications, it is much easier to treat a cat who is used to having her eyes, ears, and teeth cleaned. It's a good idea to initially groom a cat in different locations in order to discover where the cat enjoys it most. Some cats like to be on the floor. Others will choose a particular level on a kitty condo. The couch or even on your lap may prove to be a preferred site. If you select a countertop, put down a towel to cover the slick surface to give the cat some grip and allow her to be more comfortable in such a location.

    If you've acquired a cat or a kitten from a breeder, it's a good idea to ask him or her to suggest basic tools that are ideal for your specific breed. Another good place to learn hints and tips is at a cat show; the registry organizing a show often will hold special grooming workshops. Furthermore, exhibiters are always willing to offer grooming advice and recommend particular tools. One of the best ways to learn about specific grooming tools is to page through mail-order catalogs or browse online; such venues usually have detailed descriptions of tools. Of course, you can shop remotely, too, but often it's a good idea for first-time cat owners to get the feel of the items in the store, especially as manufacturers place a lot of emphasis on ergonomic comfort to make grooming a pleasurable experience for the groomer, too.

    Start grooming your kitten when she is young, so she will quickly come to enjoy it as part of her routine.

    Brushing

    Before even picking up a brush, it's a good idea to stroke your cat all over. Why? First, this is calming. Second, because this is an excellent way of locating any matted fur that will require extra attention and need to be dealt with before the primary grooming. A dematter-a comb-shaped tool with elongated razor-like prongs that work their way through the mat, teasing it out in small parts-is the best grooming aid to deal with mats or any foreign matter that may be caught up in the fur, such as twigs or burrs. Alternatively, a medium- to fine-toothed comb will also do the job. Although where to begin brushing is not set in stone, cats love long brushing strokes beginning at the neck in a downward motion toward the tail. So this would be great way to start. Always brush in the direction of the fur. If you begin on the back, take the movement down the legs and the tail. Gently push the cat onto her side so that you can work the area of the chest and belly. Be extra gentle because this can be a sensitive area, especially on a female cat with slightly protruding nipples. It's a good idea to use a softer nylon brush or a curry brush to work between the ears and under the chin.

    A bristle brush and a rubber curry brush and even mitts are basics for regular shorthaired cat grooming. For longhaired cats, double-sided wire and bristle brushes are useful, as are a small slicker brush and a wide-toothed comb to maintain tangle-free fur. All cats shed; it's nature's way of removing dead hair and replenishing new fur. Feral cats who live completely outdoors will adhere to nature's routine of shedding seasonally twice a year: in the spring to lose the thicker winter coat and in the fall to allow new fur to grow. However, domestic cats who are exposed to constant air conditioning and heating tend to shed continually and consequently need regular help through brushing. The amount they shed is also governed by the number of hours they are exposed to sunlight. This is known as the photoperiod and it triggers the natural shedding process. There are special deshedding tools on the market to help keep the situation under control; a deshedding tool is an essential item in every cat's owner's toolbox.

    It's important to never allow the hair to get so matted that the cat's entire body has to be shaved. However, should this happen, its best to have the cat shaved by a professional groomer who will have the right tools to do it efficiently, making the ordeal less stressful. Never clip out a mat of hair with pointed scissors because you could easily cut into the skin without realizing it and cause profuse bleeding. There are special bull-nosed scissors designed for general use on cats. They are particularly useful for trimming hair between the toes.

    Keeping fur short is also an excellent option for elderly longhaired cats who are no longer adept at attending to their own grooming needs. It's also a "style" worth considering if you live in a very hot climate. Brushing a cat on a regular basis means that you are removing all excess hair that would otherwise be ingested during a typical self-grooming routine; such hair can cause hairballs and constipation. It is dangerous for a cat to ingest too much hair because it can lead to internal blockages and can even be lifethreatening.

    You may be amazed at how much hair comes off your cat during a grooming session.

    Always comb and brush your cat in the same direction her fur goes.

    Bathing

    The general perception is that cats hate water and thus hate being bathed. However, show cats tolerate regular bathing without problems, which proves that if a cat is introduced to a bath from a young age, she will learn to tolerate the procedure and not be stressed out. However, if you have adopted an adult cat who hasn't been bathed before, introducing a regular a bathing ritual could be problematic. It's important to remember that pitiful meowing is a stress indicator. If your cat does this when you try to bathe her, consider less stressful alternatives that will do the job of keeping her clean. If you are brushing regularly, most cats can be bathed every couple of months or alternatively wiped down with specially formulated wipes and waterless shampoo-styled mousses on a monthly basis. It's a matter of establishing a routine that works best for you and your cat. Where you live and how exposed your cat is to dust and grime will also dictate your schedule.

    Toolbox Check List

    Here's what your basic toolkit should look like, based on whether you have a shorthaired or longhaired feline. As with your own personal brushes and combs, it's a good idea to regularly wash and disinfect your cat's grooming tools. Keep them all together in a little plastic container.

    Shorthaired:

    Your basic tool kit should include a nylon bristle brush to give the coat a smooth silky look, a rubber curry brush that looks like a comb with large rubber teeth that magnetically lifts fur and massages, and a flea comb. Also consider a fine short-toothed comb to gently remove matted hair and for removing hair from the slicker brush. Also include a deshedder.

    Longhaired:

    A double-sided wire and bristle brush is useful for general grooming. Consider a slicker brush for removing tangles, dead hair, and debris. These brushes also help to distribute healthy coat oils all over the body. A wide-toothed comb helps long hair to remain mat- and tangle-free, and a deshedding comb will keep the undercoat thinned without cutting the hair. Again, a deshedder is a "must-have" item.

    Bath Time Preparation

    Cats can be bathed wherever it's most convenient for you-in the kitchen or bathroom sink, the tub, or the shower stall. Wherever you decide, place a rubber mat or a towel on the surface to provide traction for the cat and make bath time less of an ordeal. Sometimes, cats object more to the sound of handheld shower sprays than to the actual feel of the water. If you find your cat protesting pitifully when you turn on a sprayer, instead of using the shower spray to wet the fur and to remove shampoo, use buckets of warm water with a sponge and a cup to wet the fur and rinse out the shampoo.

    Be sure to get everything ready before you start bathing your cat. Have at least two towels in place. Special pet absorbent towels are excellent for removing excess water before using an ordinary towel. It's a good idea, especially in colder climates, to warm the towels in advance by placing them in the tumble dryer. Start by washing from the neck down to the toes and tail. Massage cleansing products into the fur. Dab shampoo and conditioner onto a cotton ball and work gently around the eyes, nose, and ears, and under the chin. Some cats may prefer the use of a pet wipe on the facial area or even a face cloth with ordinary warm water. If you are using any kind of special skin treatment shampoo, it should be applied twice during a bath for it to effectively treat the condition. If possible, leave the second application on for five to fifteen minutes to allow the active ingredients to be properly absorbed.

    Rinse the fur well to remove all traces of shampoo and conditioner; use an extra bucket of water if necessary. If you are showering the products off, allow the water to run over your cat for at least five minutes to enable the skin to be properly hydrated. It's very important to rinse well because any residue can cause skin irritation. The residue may also be ingested when the cat begins her own after-bath grooming process. Never allow water to enter a cat's ears. Fold them over when rinsing. It's not a good idea to place cotton balls in the ears in case you forget to remove them!Longhaired cats should be gently brushed or combed after a bath so that their fur doesn't mat during the drying process.

    Waterless Products and Wipes

    Waterless spray-on products are formulated for cats who won't tolerate water. They all contain a diluted form of shampoo that is effective enough to clean but not strong enough to leave any residue on the skin or hair. For a very dirty coat, first spray a fine mist of warm water or wet the coat with a sturdy damp paper towel. You can also use the absorbent, sponge-type towels found in the household cleaning section of the supermarket. Spray the product directly onto your hands. Then use your fingers to apply it directly to your cat's body, starting at the neck and working down the body and legs. Next, rub the product in with a warm, wet, squeezed-out washcloth, working all the way down to the skin. Rinse the cloth often, and keep wiping until there is no more product left on the hair.

    Dry the coat with a paper towel, and brush or comb the coat immediately afterward. To clean the facial area, dip a cotton swab or cotton ball into the product and apply it carefully to the areas around the nose, eyes, and mouth. Wipe it off with a tissue. However, a better bet is a specially formulated wipe for cats. Never use wipes made for humans because they contain alcohol, which is extremely drying to feline skin and could cause skin irritations. Wipes are also useful to remove dirty spots and very practical for grooming elderly felines who are no longer capable of grooming themselves properly. Look for products that clearly state they are "lick safe" and "nontoxic" and with a pH factor formulated for felines.

    Bathe your cat every couple months, depending on how often your cat is exposed to dust and dirt.

    Heating the towels you use to dry your kitty will help keep her from getting too cold after a bath.

    Shampoo and Conditioning Treatments

    Shampoos for people are selected according to hair type (normal, oily, dry). Shampoos for felines are selected for skin type. A cat' s skin can be affected by variety of things such as air conditioning and heating and various air pollutants; even air fresheners can result in a dry and itchy skin, further causing fur to become matted, static, or oily. Moisturizers work to add moisture and rehydrate the skin and hair follicles. Conditioners are a combination of ingredients that coat the hair to make it shiny, glossy, and fluffy. They prevent static and stop fur from matting and tangling. Most products on the shelves for cats are a combination of both. Remember that the "hardness" or "softness" of water from the faucet will also affect the texture of a cat's hair. It's worth investing in products that contain all-natural ingredients because many chemical ingredients in pet shampoo and conditioning products can cause skin allergies. Look for words such as natural plant extracts on the labels. Further look for labels that say the products are free of parabens (chemicals used as preservatives).

    Here's a guide to finding the right products for various skin condition and what to look for on the product labels:

    Dry, flaky skin:

    This requires both moisturizing and conditioning. Look for a shampoo containing protein and moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera, borage oil, oatmeal, vitamin E, and vitamin B5 (panthenol) that will soften and soothe the skin as well as leave the coat shiny and glossy. You can use an all-in-one shampoo-conditioner.

    Dry, itchy, or sore skin:

    This needs to be well moisturized and treated to heal skin irritations. If you reduce itching, it's possible to avoid secondary infections caused by scratching. Look for products that list ingredients such as coal tar and sulfur that have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Plant extracts such as chamomile and comfrey also have excellent anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

    Greasy, flaky skin:

    This condition can be likened to sunburn in humans. Ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile will help reduce oiliness and rejuvenate the skin. Other natural plant extracts such as ylang-ylang and lavender also control oiliness and have soothing properties. A greasy flaky skin could also be caused by a medical condition or by dietary issues, so be sure to check with your veterinarian.

    Skin allergies:

    Allergies are best treated with a hypoallergenic shampoo. This means the product has no colorants or fragrance. Look for products that contain aloe vera, peppermint, and geranium, which have soothing properties. Be aware, however, that if skin allergies and redness persists they could be indicators of an internal problem that will also need veterinary attention.

    Fleas and ticks:

    Shampoos provide some instant help but have no long-term benefits. Some insecticides can be toxic to cats and kittens and may even cause death. Current flea and tick treatments focus on the use topical products, some of which contain insect growth regulators (IGRs) that break the flea's life cycle. This approach has been deemed more effective than shampoos.

    Watch the Bumps

    Cats, just like dogs and even people, often develop lumps and bumps anywhere on their bodies. These are usually associated with age. Often they are benign, but it's important to check them out with your veterinarian. If you and the veterinarian deem it wisest to leave them alone, then make sure you identify them for the groomer with colored stickers. They should stay on long enough for the groomer to be able to identify the area. However, be careful if you put them on an area of the fur that the cat can reach and lick off and ingest! During your regular grooming sessions at home, avoid mishaps by simply putting your thumb on the lump or bump and carefully working around this tender spot.

    Dos and Don'ts of Grooming

    With the recognition that a feline grooming routine is a de rigueur part of cat ownership comes a list of basic dos and don'ts to assist with the process. One of the most important don'ts is to not use products that are not specifically formulated and designed for felines. There are significant physiological differences between cats and other pets and cats and humans that make the use of non–feline-specific products detrimental to your cat's health. For instance, feline fur has a different pH level to both human hair and dog hair. In addition, a cat's hair follicles have multiple hair shafts whereas human hair follicles have only one shaft. So, for example, a human shampoo on a cat produces different results and, in fact, will cause an oily buildup. Furthermore, humans have sweat glands all over the body whereas a cat only has sweat glands on her paw pads and the bridge of her nose. Cats have sebaceous glands all over the body whereas humans have sebaceous glands only in the facial region and the hair on their heads. All this points to the fact that human products are formulated for people, dog products for dogs, and specially formulated feline products are best for felines. There is no shortage of these products, so it's easier to buy the right grooming products in the first place.

    Nail Care

    A cat's claws grow very fast. Consequently, nails should be trimmed monthly to prevent ingrown nails that can affect how your cat walks and also reduce damage from her scratching furniture around the home.The best way to introduce nail trimming as part of the grooming routine is to gently massage your cat's in the normal course of a play session. In this way, she will get used to your pressing on her paw pads and splaying her toes and thus will be more tolerant when the nail clippers come out.A quality pair of stainless steel "guillotine-styled" pet nail trimmers will do the job quickly and efficiently. Never use human nail cutters because they tend to split nails.

    It's important to snip off only the clear part of the nail. Hitting the quick will cause pain and bleeding.

    As with any grooming routine, it’s important to find a place where your cat will be the most comfortable. Some cats will simply lie on a couch or bed and let you trim. Others prefer to be sitting on your lap. The easiest way to get the job done is to work with an assistant and use the “kitty burrito” method: wrap the cat up in a towel and only expose one foot at a time. Get your assistant to hold the cat facing you. Pick up a paw and press gently so that the nails are extended. The best way to decide where to cut is to look at the nail from the side to distinguish between the nail and the quick, the blood supply that is an opaque pink color at the base of the nail. (If you accidentally do cut into the quick, styptic powder will stop the bleeding. So will ordinary flour.)

    Hold the clippers in a horizontal position and clip firmly. This will prevent the nail from splitting. Remember to include the dewclaw-the slightly thicker nail on the side of the front feet. On longhaired cats, it's a good idea to wet the fur to make it easier to see the dewclaw. Leaving this claw unattended will cause it to grow into the skin, which can be extremely painful and also cause an infection. If you are unsure about the procedure, simply trim the very tips of the nails until you've built up more confidence. An ordinary nail file or a special pet nail file will help smooth any rough edges. Whenever trimming the nails, look closely to ensure they are healthy and that nothing is caught between the toes, such as kitty litter. A cat nail fungus infection called paronychia can be a symptom of an internal medical condition that will require veterinary attention. It's important to note that even trimming a cat's nails regularly will not necessarily stop her from attempting to scratch furniture. If she is scratching furniture, consider pasting specially designed claw covers over each nail to prevent damage. They are sold in kits with special adhesive and usually last up to six weeks. They are available at pet supermarkets and boutiques and are definitely a viable option to declawing.

    Paw Irritants

    Salt and chemicals used to de-ice outdoor areas can cause skin irritations on a cat's paw pads. Most de-icing products are toxic to pets and could make your cat ill if ingested when she licks her paws; some products can be fatal if ingested. Be sure to wipe paws with a damp paper towel or soft cloth to remove residue every time a cat walks on such surfaces. For cats regularly exposed to such conditions, it's a good idea to rub a Shea butter paw balm into the paw pads. It offers protection to the paw pads against these harsh climatic conditions and is harmless if licked off.Antifreeze is another product used regularly in parts of the country that are annually snowbound. It's important to be wary of any antifreeze that may have dripped on a driveway; cats are attracted to it because of its sweet smell and taste, but it's also highly toxic and can cause death.It's a good idea to read the labels on the products you are using to clean hardwood floor and tiles as well. Look for pet-friendly nontoxic cleaning agents because cats walk on these areas daily and then lick their paws.

    Eye Care

    Make wiping your cat's face with a warm damp cloth or a special nontoxic pet wipe a regular part of your grooming routine and simultaneously check that her eyes are clear and healthy. If she allows you to do so regularly, it will ensure that, should she ever need eye drops or ointments, she will be more tolerant of their application. Once again, use this grooming time to take careful note of any changes in the eye color or the area surrounding the eye. Eyes should be clear, bright, and free of any discharge. Cats can lose their sight quickly for a number of medical reasons such as high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes. Sight deterioration can be rapid. A cat can also become blind from not being dewormed because the worms migrate around the body, including behind the eyes, which can destroy the optic nerves.

    Although they are harmless, some cat owners consider tearstains unsightly. Tearstains are those brown streaks on the inside corners of the eyes running down the bridge of the nose. It is normal for the tear glands to produce secretions that lubricate the surface of the eye and drain down the tear ducts into the nose and throat. However, some liquid tends to accumulate on the skin of the eyelids. As it evaporates, the natural iron compound found in the tears mixes with oxygen in the air and causes a brown stain. BibleTearstains are most noticeable on light-colored fur and more prevalent in certain breeds such as Persians because the shape and position of their eyes doesn't allow the tear ducts to drain effectively. Numerous specially formulated products are designed to lighten these stains. Some are food or water additives; others are packaged as eye pads to be applied directly to the affected areas, and these can be used regularly as part of the grooming routine. It's always a good idea to consult a veterinarian if you are planning to treat tearstains on a permanent basis.

    Gently wipe the area around your kitty's eyes with a damp cloth as part of her normal grooming routine.

    Ear Care

    The inner surface of the ear should always be odor-free and feel slightly greasy to the touch. However, sometimes, the ears develop an excess of wax visible on the inside of the ear flap. This can be removed with special ear-wipes or with a cotton swab. Never use a swab to clean deep within the ear itself because you can damage the ear canal. It's important to note that ear mites are the most common cause of a gritty dark wax in a cat's ears. This needs veterinary treatment.

    Dental Hygiene

    A full-grown cat has thirty teeth. There are sixteen on the top and fourteen on the bottom. Kittens usually lose their baby teeth between the ages of two and four months and have all their permanent teeth by the time they are six months old.Dental problems can plague felines from a very early age starting with a bacteria buildup on the teeth that causes plaque. As in humans, plaque irritates the gums and causes gingivitis, which in turn can cause periodontal disease when the bone around the teeth begins to deteriorate.

    Even if you try to get your cat accustomed to allowing you to check her mouth from an early age, there's no question that it can be extremely difficult to efficiently clean a cat's teeth. Consequently, it's simply a matter of doing the best you can as opposed to doing nothing!There are a plethora of dental products from brushes and pastes to finger gloves to dental gels and sprays all designed to control plaque. There are also tasteless additives for the water bowl.Regular dental checkups at the veterinarian are important to your cat's overall good health because bacteria left untreated in the mouth will migrate internally, causing kidney and liver damage and other serious issues.

    It's important to note that the "gentle dental" teeth-cleaning techniques done without anesthesia and often advertised in local newspapers have to be done by a licensed veterinarian or dental technician at a veterinary office. Beware of unscrupulous practitioners. Often, if the cat is nervous and squirms a lot, the overall treatment cannot be performed properly and is more or less useless. A veterinary technician can definitely do a better and more efficient job if the cat is sedated. Discuss the situation with your veterinarian first, especially if your feline is elderly.

    Including a massage as part of the regular grooming for an elderly cat can help to maintain flexibility and good blood circulation.

    Grooming an Older Cat

    Because cats are living longer, often well into their teens and even into their twenties, stiffening joints make it difficult for them to efficiently groom themselves as they did when they were younger. You will notice it when your cat no longer grooms herself with that typical leg-in-the-air stance; suddenly, her fur appears a bit matted. When this happens, it's time to help her with her regular grooming by brushing her more regularly and wiping her down with pet wipes or a warm damp cloth. Older cats also often have difficulty using a litter box and, as a result, fecal matter can get caught in the area around the anus, and clumping litter can become caught between the toes. This can be extremely uncomfortable when it hardens. A warm sponge or a pet wipe will usually take care of such issues. If you cat will allow you, dip her paw in warm water to loosen the trapped debris and then use a cotton ball or a paper towel to efficiently clean and dry between the toes.

    It's a good idea to include a massage as part of the regular grooming of an elderly cat. Massage helps to maintain flexibility in the joins and ensure better blood flow to boost circulation. Pet massage therapists are becoming more popular, with pet massages being done at pet spas as well as at home. About twenty basic massage and touch techniques are used, including Swedish massage, shiatsu, Thai, reflexology, Reiki, and acupressure. Although pet massage therapists draw from all these modalities, the most common techniques employed come from Swedish massage, which uses long and flowing strokes designed to increase circulation and blood flow and to limber up joints and relax tense muscles.

    These are the five basic strokes:

    • Effleurage: gliding strokes designed to warm up the muscles.
    • Petrissage: gentle kneading and circular strokes.
    • Friction: deep, circular rubbing.
    • Tapotement: rhythmic tapping, administered in several ways-with the edge of the palm, the heel of the hand, with the fingers, or with short, rapid movements using the sides of the hand.
    • Vibration movements: very fine, rapid shaking.

    It is possible to gently massage your cat yourself practicing these stokes. Pet massage workshops and courses are available around the country to help you improve your technique. For the ultimate comfort for senior pets, you may want to invest in a specially designed infrared massager that has two heated massage heads-a large head for greater coverage and a small head for more concentrated areas. The heat and massage movement can be controlled separately. The unit is ideal for relieving stiffness and pain associated with arthritis, and it improves circulation and alleviates general stress.

    If you prefer taking your kitty to a groomer, one who specializes in cats is your best bet.

    Pet Dental Month

    February is officially Pet Dental month in the United States, when many veterinary offices offer a discount for what is called an ATP-assessment, treatment, and prevention checkup. This is a good time to get your cat in for a dental check, which is necessary and will include a state-of-the-art teeth cleaning done under anesthetic. Be aware, however, that in senior cats the veterinarian may suggest a blood panel to determine whether any internal problems exist that may make proceeding with the anesthesia unwise. It's important to discuss the process with your veterinarian. Cats suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes often are not good candidates for any kind of anesthesia.

    Feline Grooming Aids

    Here is a guide to feline grooming aids. Initially, when introducing your cat to a grooming routine, only brush all over with a soft nylon brush or a mitt. Once your cat is used to the idea, consider including other more specific routines to deal with the ears, eyes, teeth, and nails. Generally speaking, cats should be brushed at least once a week. Longhaired cats often require daily attention and a more intense session once a week.

    Brush, pin:

    A brush with nylon bristles with round tips on the ends resembling sewing pins. Ideal for grooming longhaired cats.

    Brush, slicker:

    This is an inexpensive wire brush designed to remove tangles, dead hair, and debris while distributing healthy coat oils. Dual-headed slicker brushes follow with the contour of the body and are more efficient.

    Brush, wire and boar-bristle combination:

    The advantage of a combination wire and boar-bristle brush is that the wire section helps to separate the hair and the boar bristle works to distribute the natural oils through the hair and simultaneously stimulate the skin and boost circulation.

    Brushes, nylon:

    Using a selection of brushes with nylon bristles gives the coat a smooth and silky look.

    Calming cap:

    This special cap is designed to lessen a cat's anxiety during grooming by reducing its field visual of vision. It's available in two sizes for cats and kittens.

    Chamois cloth, special:

    This is excellent for a rub down to bring a glossy sheen to shorthaired coats.

    Comb, deshedding:

    A metal comb with alternating short and long tines that extract dead undercoat hairs.

    Comb, flea:

    A metal comb with very closely spaced tines for extracting fleas and flea eggs. It can also be used for gently grooming facial areas and is excellent for removing hair from other grooming brushes.

    Comb, rubber:

    A rubber comb with large teeth, also known as a curry brush, magnetically lifts loose fur and massages the skin.

    Comb, short-toothed:

    A fine, short-toothed comb gently removes any matted hair from the fur. It can also be used to remove hair from the slicker brush.

    Dematter:

    A comb-shaped tool with elongated, razorlike prongs that work their way through the mat, teasing it out in small parts at a time.

    Deshedding tool:

    This "new age" grooming tool is designed for grooming efficacy; it is specifically designed to deal with feline shedding problems by doing the job of a brush and a comb simultaneously. Many have a special fur ejector button to make it easy to remove gathered hair from the gadget. There are several on the market, such as the FURminator and the ShedMonster.

    Grooming wipes, hypoallergenic:

    Specially formulated for a feline skin, these grooming wipes are a quick coat-cleaning solution and also ideal for cleaning between the toes and attending to the tail area, especially on elderly kitties who have difficulty grooming these areas themselves. These all-natural cat wipes contain mild cleansers to deodorize and whisk away dirt, dander, and residual saliva on the fur.

    Hair mitt:

    A hair-grabbing mitt has little rubber knobs on the underside or is manufactured from a special fabric that removes loose hair and also offers a nice massage at the same time.

    Massage roller-brush:

    The rubber bristles on the roller are ergonomically designed to gently remove loose dead hair, dried dirt, and dander while providing a soothing body massage. Most models on the market have two speeds and a very silent motor that make this gadget very cat-friendly.

    Nail clippers and nail files:

    There are a variety of nail clippers on the market. The guillotine style is best for cats. The latest hi-tech nail trimmers come with a built-in light so that it's easy to see where to cut. Some even have a light indicator that turns green when you are at the right place to clip. They are a worthwhile investment because a cat's nails can grow quickly, especially on the front paws, and most cats aren't very tolerant of this necessary procedure. There are also special battery-operated feline nail files that are designed to quickly and efficiently file down feline talons. However, if the noise spooks your cat, use an ordinary human nail file.

    Oral hygiene rinse:

    This product is designed for cats who are notoriously uncooperative when it comes to brushing their teeth. An oral hygiene rinse sprayed into the cat's mouth will help to prevent plaque and tartar buildup and generally keep your feline's mouth in good condition.

    Pet hairdryer:

    Human hairdryers are far too hot and will burn a cat's sensitive skin, even on the lowest heat setting. Consequently, specially designed pet dryers have heat settings tolerable to pet skin and hair and are relatively low-noise. They also clip on to a counter or have suction feet to allow you to use both hands for brushing and drying. Look for a model that offers the latest ionic technology that allows the negative ions in the air to break large water droplets on the hair into smaller drops. In turn, these smaller drops allow more water to be absorbed into the hair so it can dry more quickly and simultaneously retain moisture. The result is smoother and less static fur.

    Scissors, blunt-tipped:

    This tool is useful for cutting into a knot of hair that won't separate using a comb or a brush. The scissors can also be used for trimming excess hair between the toes.

    Styptic powder:

    This special antiseptic powder efficiently stops bleeding if you unintentionally cut into the nail quick.

    A good kit to buy is the Scaredy Cut Silent Home Pet Grooming Kit. This innovative bright pink seven-piece kit includes six combs in various sizes that work in conjunction with a special pair of scissors. The combs snap in place under the scissor blades and trim fur safely and evenly. The combs are the very same combs used with standard electric grooming clippers and are designed to glide through hair. A pair of bull-nose scissors (as described above) can also be included in the kit on request.

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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