Brushing your cat not only removes dirt, grease and dead hair from her coat, but it helps to remove skin flakes and stimulates blood circulation, improving the overall condition of her skin. One or two brushings per week will help kitty to keep her healthy glow and allow her to bask in yummy together time-and you’ll find that regular sessions are especially beneficial when your cat ages and is no longer able to groom so meticulously on her own.
Healthy Coat and Skin
Before brushing, check out the condition of your kitty’s coat. If it’s healthy, her hair will have a natural gloss and spring back under your hand when you touch it. There shouldn’t be any bald patches or signs of fleas and ticks, and her skin should be free of wounds and unusual bumps.
Brushing Short-Haired Cats
With a metal comb, work the brush through your cat’s fur from head to tail to remove dirt and debris. Make sure to work along the lie of her fur, brushing in the direction the coat grows. If you brush in the reverse direction, you’ll lift the hair up and back-an uncomfortable feeling for kitty. Brush all over her body, including her chest and abdomen, concentrating on one section at a time to remove dead hair and tangles. A rubber brush can be especially effective for removing dead hair on cats with short fur.
Brushing Long-Haired Cats
Long-haired cats who live out in the wild shed every spring, but those who live indoors with artificial light and heating shed throughout the year and need grooming sessions every few days to remove dead hair and prevent tangles. Start with kitty’s abdomen and legs, gently combing the fur upward toward her head. Comb the neck fur upward, too, toward her chin. Finally, make a part down the middle of her tail and gently brush out the fur on either side. You can sprinkle talcum powder over knots and gently use your fingers to tease them apart. (Make sure cats don’t inhale or ingest the talcum powder.) If the knots don’t come out by hand, try using a mat-splitter. Extensive mats may require treatment by a professional groomer or veterinary staff.
During your weekly grooming sessions, run your hands along your cat’s body, checking for wounds, bumps and hidden tangles. Also check for ticks and flea dirt, black specks of dried blood left behind by fleas. Sneak a peek under her tail to check for feces attached to the fur that may need to be snipped away with scissors. It’s also important to check around your cat’s anus for tan, rice-sized objects-these may indicate the presence of tapeworm.
Cats can also suffer from skin conditions that don’t involve fleas, ticks or other parasites. If your cat shows any of the following signs, please have her examined by your vet:
- Persistent scratching
- Excessive licking and grooming
- Biting at the skin and coat
- Swelling under the skin
- Increased shedding/bald patches
Neglecting to brush your kitty’s coat can lead to painful tangles and a bellyful of hair. You’ll know if your cat is suffering from hairballs when he coughs them up onto the floor or expels them in his feces. If, despite regular brushing, your cat continues to suffer from hairballs, there are several remedies available. Please ask your vet to recommend a solution.
A healthy cat grooms himself regularly and fastidiously. However, if your cat obsessively licks certain parts of his body, giving himself bald spots and sores, please bring him in for a veterinary exam. The cause might be fleas, an allergy or stress that can be resolved by altering something in your cat’s environment.
Many hair and skin problems can be linked to a poor-possibly allergy-causing-diet. A nutritionally complete food that is appropriate for your cat’s age and the amount of exercise she does, plenty of fresh water and not too many treats should bring a glow to her skin and coat. Check with your vet to help determine the right food and optimum feeding schedule for your cat.