Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cat Grooming Tips, with Will Draper, DVM

03/10/2011

  • Anne Wingo:

    Dr. Will, I've had all kinds of cats -- some long hair, some short hair. I do use cat combs. I use people combs. I comb them a lot. We still have fur balls.

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    Right. And as long as cats groom themselves, hairballs are something they're going to have.

    Otto and I were talking, and he has three cats, and swears he has never seen a hairball. I don’t know how that’s possible. There may be some hairballs under your couch. (Laughter)  

    But, cats cannot digest hair, and if they groom, you know, they have these combs on their tongue that are perfect for grooming. And when they groom, they're going to swallow the hair and eventually that hair is going to come up. 

    There are hairball remedies. Hairball laxative, if you will, which is very similar to petroleum jelly that you can give them on a regular basis, and it helps lubricate their system, and push that hairball out the other way rather than out of their stomach. And there are also diets that are designed to help prevent against hairballs, which in a sense, act as a laxative to help push hair and food out of the rear rather than the front.

  • Jamie Albright:

    You mentioned nail trimming. And I never trim my cats’ nails. (Laughter) So I wonder how do you start doing that? And I am sure starting as a kitten…

  • Will:

    Oh yeah. You start them young, and you just... everybody feels like they need to cut the nail back as far as possible, but it's just important to get the very sharp tip off. If you look at a kitten’s nail, there is a portion that is pink and that’s the blood supply. We call that the quick. You never want to cut back that far, because of course, they will start to bleed. And I always tell owners, if you are going to attempt to trim the nails on your own, have products that are designed to stop bleeding quickly. You can also use flour. Have some flour around, trim the nail, if you see any blood, put flour on there quickly and that will help to stop the bleeding.

  • Anne:

    I know, I tried that with my cats. And I found the best time to do it is when they were asleep. (Laughter) And you might get one paw done -- while they're asleep!

  • Otto Ojevaar:

    Dr. Will, do you have any recommendations for dental hygiene?

  • Will:

    Well, the right answer to that, Otto, is that, they eat food every day. They should have their teeth brushed every day. But as you would imagine, most cats aren't going to go for that without taking a finger or two. ( Laughter ) And what we generally do, there are diets that are designed to help keep tartar and plaque at a minimum. But regular doctor visits and professional dental cleanings -- the same kind of prophylactic cleanings we receive with polishing, scaling, are recommended -- generally, probably an average about every two to three years. 

    Anybody that feels they can -- start early and try to brush their teeth, and it's always a great thing to start doing, if your cat will allow you to do it.

  • Otto:

    Would you start the dental hygiene while they are kittens?

  • Will:

    Definitely. Start, just like anything -- like trimming their nails, brushing them -- start them early, so they are used to it.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
Watch Video Now