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Grooming a Cat

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Many people think that because a cat spends a large amount of time cleaning themselves that grooming a cat is not necessary. This is not true. In fact some cats, such as those with long hair, must be groomed often in order to keep their coat in good shape and free of matting and debris.

There are many aspects to proper grooming.

Comb or Brush
The most basic part of keeping a cat well-groomed is regular combing or brushing. Even cat owners who choose to use a professional groomer for other aspects of grooming, often choose to do this themselves. Not only is it part of grooming the cat, but it also provides good interaction between the two of you.

If the cat has short hair, brushing once a week should be sufficient. If that cat has medium to long hair, however, she should be thoroughly combed or brushed at least every other day. This will help prevent matting and keep her coat shiny and healthy.

The Once Over
While brushing or combing your pet, give it a good once over. This part of grooming a cat includes looking inside the ears, checking for fleas or evidence of fleas, and checking the eyes and teeth.

If you notice wax build up in the ears, remove it with a warm cloth, but do not enter the ear canal.

If you find evidence of fleas you will want to begin treatment immediately. Remember that one flea can quickly turn into thousands. Fleas are more than just
an itchy nuisance. They can bring diseases and cause other problems, such as serious skin irritation, for your cat. It is much easier to prevent fleas than
try to get rid of them. Using a once a month topical flea prevention can stop this problem before it starts.

A cat's teeth tend to quickly develop tartar buildup. Some brave cat owners (with mild mannered cats) brush their cat's teeth. Other options include having a professional groomer do it, or giving your cat treats that are specially designed to help clean their teeth.

Nails
Doesn't trying to trim the extremely sharp claws of an aggravated cat sound like a great way to spend an afternoon? If not, then you might want to consider farming this task out to a professional. Some cats do not need to have their nails trimmed. Cats that spend time outdoors wear their nails down during their wanderings. Even some indoor cats manage to keep their nails at a manageable length just by using their scratching post or pouncing around on concrete or tile floors. Some cats, however, do need a trim. Saying that it is difficult to complete this task at home is not to say that it is impossible. In fact, many cat owners do trim their pet's nails. But aside from the fact that most cats do NOT like it (and that is a huge understatement) many pet owners do not know how to do it correctly. There is a big margin for error and improperly trimming their nails can cause much more harm than good. For example, if you trim too far down, you will cut the quick of the nail which will cause bleeding and be very painful for the cat. Unless you are sure you know what you are doing, it is best to leave this part of grooming a cat to the professionals.

While grooming, you may come across some of the following conditions. Included below is some advice on what to do.

Matting
If cats are not brushed regularly, they can develop matting in their fur. Some cats end up with matting so severe that it almost covers their entire coat. If you notice a spot of matted fur on the cat, it is not a good idea to use scissors to try and cut it out. Most of the time, the matting will continue through the fur very close to the skin. Attempting to remove the matted fur with scissors can easily result in cutting the cat. If you want to try and take care of the problem yourself, use a trimmer. Even when using a trimmer, it is important to take care not to get too close to the skin. If you don't feel confident doing it yourself, bring her to a groomer. Remember, that this is a problem that is completely preventable. Brush the cat often enough and she will never have the chance to develop any matting.

Fleas
If you notice fleas or what looks like small specks of dirt in the cat's fur, it is time to treat for a flea infestation. This problem is NOT going to go away on its own. The sooner you start treatment, the better. Once an infestation has occurred, getting rid of fleas can take some time. Because of the life cycle of a flea and of their eggs, you will often have to do several treatments in order to get rid of them completely. As is matting, this problem is preventable. Use a topical flea prevention each month, and you are unlikely to ever have to deal with an infestation.

Skin Irritation
If there seems to be a spot on your cat that is sensitive to the touch or that looks red or irritated, it is a good idea to have the vet take a look at the spot. There are many possible causes for such skin irritation from very minor causes to some that are more serious. Whatever caused the irritation, the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the sooner the cat can start feeling better.

Noticing such potential health problems is a benefit of grooming your cat. If you don't notice such things, the problem, such as fleas, dental problems or skin irritation, can go unnoticed - and therefore untreated - for years. If you think that you need some help grooming your cat, there are some things to keep in mind when looking for a professional groomer.

Cat Only Groomers

Look for a groomer that deals with cats only. Going to the groomer is likely to be stressful enough for your cat. No need adding to the stress by making your cat be surrounded by strange, barking dogs.

References
Ask potential groomers for references and call at least three of them.

Ask Your Vet
Your vet likely knows of some high quality groomers that maintain high standards of care. Ask him for references.

Tour the Facility
Obviously, the facility should be reasonably clean. Also, notice how the cats are kept while waiting to be groomed and whether the groomers seem to be taking their time with the animals they are working on.

Ask About Their Accident Policy
Ask what their policy is regarding notifying the owner should an accident with their pet occur. There are many stories of pets coming home from the groomers with cuts that were never mentioned when the pet was picked up. Be sure the groomer has a policy in place to notify you right away if something happens.

Check the BBB
Call the Better Business Bureau in your area to see if any complaints have been made by past customers.
Whether you choose to do all or part of the grooming yourself, or plan to hire a professional to take care of everything, the important thing to remember is that grooming a cat is a very important part of its care.
Proper grooming helps the cat stay healthy, happy and flea free!

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