Caring for a cat is more than just providing food, water and shelter. A responsible cat owner also has cat grooming to worry about.
How do you groom a cat? Use a grooming comb or bristle brush to get rid of loose hairs in their coat. Alternatives include plastic or rubber brushes, grooming gloves and mats. You may also want to use cat shampoo on your cat, provided they aren’t too stressed by bathing. Use scissors if their coat is too long, but be careful if you do!
Getting your cat to sit still for long enough to groom them can be a task. You may need to put them through special training to encourage them to sit still. If training your cat is something you’re interested in, read through our guides accessible through the menu above.
The Cat Grooming Guide
Cats, as we’re sure you’ve noticed, spend an awful lot of their time grooming themselves. Some people see that as vanity, but in reality it’s about cleanliness about practicality.
Cats don’t like to do anything without a purpose. When they regularly lick their coats, they’re actually spreading saliva across their fur, which then slowly evaporates and cools the cat down. There even seems to be such a thing as a cat grooming ratio that most cats work to, according to this study. Chances are, if they’re doing something, they have good reason for it!
In this article we’re going to look at the vast array of grooming products available for our beloved pets. We’re also going to discuss the reasons why cat grooming is
important, and the benefits for both cat and owner. Even with their meticulous grooming schedule, some cats can’t take care of all their grooming needs themselves. Long haired cats in particular are a special case. They need assistance from their humans. And they’ll love you for it! Regular cat grooming sessions strengthen the bond between cat and owner, and result in a happier cat. Plus, need we ask you if you really enjoy cleaning up sick after a furball incident? A well groomed cat swallows less fur, and encounters furballs less often. If we give you the choice between spending time cat grooming or spending time cleaning up cat sick, we already know what you’re going to choose.
Let’s look at the benefits, and find out how to groom a cat, why to groom a cat and when to groom a cat!
What Are The Benefits Of Cat Grooming?
Regular cat grooming has all sorts of benefits for your cat, and this list shouldn’t be considered to be complete, but here are the headlines. We’ve used this extensive study of feline behaviour as a reference point.
- Loose hair is removed. This means a smoother, silkier coat, and makes it easier for your cat to regulate its temperature. Oh, and one more time so you get the point, it means less furballs!
- It stimulates your cat’s sweat glands. This helps to keep their coat waterproof. Cats don’t like being soaking wet any more than you do!
- Parasites are removed. Nobody likes to see a cat with a flea infestation, and there’s only so much they can do about it themselves. If you can give them a hand with this they’ll be really grateful! By the way, if fleas are a problem for your cat, you might be able to fix it with a special collar. Check out our cat collar guide for more information.
- Muscle tone is improved, especially with massage. You’re giving your cat a mini workout! That means they stay supple and flexible, and they’ll be able to run fast and jump high later in life than an cat who hasn’t been groomed will.
- You get a chance to give them a check over. A relaxed cat sat on your lap for a cat grooming session will quite happily let you inspect it more closely than it usually would. This means you can look for lumps, bumps, tics and dry spots. You can also give their eyes, ears and teeth the once over.
- It’s therapeutic for both you and your cat. Most owners find grooming their cat to be quite relaxing, and cats just love attention. It will bring you closer together. You may find your cat ‘volunteers’ itself for a grooming session quite regularly!
Cat Grooming Tools & Cat Brushes
1. Fur Combing Accessories
As we’ve covered above, combing and brushing is the bare minimum activity you should be undertaking for your pet. There are several tools on the market to help you with this, and we’ll break the basic options down for you. There’s a whole world of cat grooming accessories out there, and brushes are the very basic tip of the iceberg. There is no overall ‘best cat comb’; just a range of different versions of the tool, for different versions of cats! Here’s a breakdown of the various cat brush types.
1.1 Cat Grooming Comb
Description: A human comb isn’t really designed for use on a cat. That’s why someone invented the cat grooming comb! They look exactly like the comb you use, but they’re a little kinder and gentler to cat skin.
Pros: They’re particularly good at getting fleas out because of the narrow gaps between the spines. They’ll also help to get out knots, and de-clump matted fur. A good combing session should leave your cat with a shiny, smooth coat.
Cons: Sensitive cats may not like them very much. More pressure is applied to the skin than it is with a brush, so they may feel a little scratchy. Also if they encounter a thick clump they may pull on the fur, which is bound to upset your cat. The area they cover is smaller than a brush, so grooming will take a little longer.
Typical price: Less than $5. This is a basic bit of equipment. Cheap cat brushes are fine to use to do a basic job.
1.2 Cat Grooming Bristle Brush
Description: This is another tool that will look similar to the grooming products you might have for your own use! Resembling a hair brush in many ways, these brushes are designed to give your cat a good groom without requiring the same level of focus and pressure as a comb. Don’t use your own hair brush though; cat brushes exist for a reason.
Pros: See above. They have a wider surface area than a comb, so grooming takes less of your time. They’re also a little less ‘intense’ for your cat, so a cat irritated by a comb may have no such issue with a brush.
Cons: They only really work on short to medium haired cats. They’re just not long enough to do the job for long haired felines, which is an issue that also affects some combs. Even though they’re a little gentler than the combs, a sensitive cat still might not enjoy the sensation of the spines against its skin.
Typical price: $10 or so. You’d pay that for a good brush for yourself, so why not for your cat?
1.3 Plastic/Rubber Cat Grooming Brush
Description: Some of you may have something similar at home. Instead of a brush on a handle, this is more of a handheld tool with a grip at the top and wider, thicker plastic or rubber spokes coming out of the bottom.
Pros: If a cat could go shopping for itself, it would probably pick a rubber cat brush. Because the material is gentle, and the spines are thicker, there’s not as much intensity on the pressure against your cat. Grooming your cat with one of these is part massage, part brush, and cats love it! They do the job of removing excess hair, and conditioning the skin, with none of the trauma. In a nutshell, they’re soothing.
Cons: Because they’re so gentle, they’re not as forensic. A cat with very matted fur or tight knots may not have its problems solved by this option. They’re also no use for getting fleas out of your cat’s coat because the gaps between spines are too large.
Typical price: $10, and as far as your cat’s concerned it’s $10 well spent.
1.4 Cat De-Shedder Tool
Description: If it’s time to bring out the big guns, this is what you’re looking for! They look a little like clippers or electric razors, but don’t worry, there’s no shaving involved. The took has stainless steel spines designed to get deep within your cat’s fur. The idea is that they clear out not just excess fur at the top of the coat, but also fur that’s laying close to the skin and possibly irritating your cat. All the fur collects together against the steel spines, and a button on the back pushes the fur off when you’re done.
Pros: These are the only truly effective tools for deep grooming sessions on long haired cats. They clear off more excess fur than any other method. For cats with bad knots, tangles or matting issues, this is the accessory that’s going to solve the problem. There’s also not a flea in the world who’s going to survive a cat grooming session with one of these.
Cons: Their strength is also their weakness; these are heavy duty tools! They’re designed to go deep and clear out anything resting against the skin. That means there’s going to be a lot of pulling against your cat’s fur. However much you assure them, not all cats are going to like it. Although models are available for short haired cats, this option may not be the best idea for them when a good brush will do the job just as well.
Typical price: A professional standard solution comes with a professional price. Expect to part with around $30. These are not cheap cat brushes; they’re a fairly industrial tool! One of the leading models on the market goes by the name of the Furminator cat brush, or just the Furminator. Whilst they’re not the only version of the tool, they’re a well respected brand.
1.5 Cat Grooming Gloves
Description: Imagine a pair of oven gloves. Now imagine just one of them. Now imagine the glove is coated with little rubber spines. Bingo, you’ve just pictured a pair of cat grooming gloves.
Pros: This is a more natural approach to grooming your cat. Because you’re just using your hand, and stroking your cat with a little pressure, it barely feels like a grooming session at all. You can stroke your cat and groom it at the same time. It’s barely invasive at all, and highly unlikely to provoke any kind of objection from your cat.
Cons: They’re just not as efficient. In real terms this is more of a massage tool than a grooming tool. They’re only suggested for use on short hair cats, and even then you won’t get as thorough a job in terms of removing excess hair, because pressure isn’t applied consistently across the surface as it would be with a comb or a brush. Do grooming gloves work? Yes, but in truth, they don’t work as well as some of the other options we’ve listed.
Typical price: Somewhere around the $15 range.
1.6 Cat Grooming Mats
Description: It’s a wide plastic mat, covered with a range of different length spines, bumps and shaped for your cat to roll across and brush against. They can be laid across the floor, pinned to a wall or other flat surface, or even wrapped around a post or piece of furniture. They’re adaptable.
Pros: This is a self-service cat grooming solution. Any time your cat feels an itch, or weighed down by fur, it heads on over to the mat itself and takes care of the problem. For a cat that spends a lot of time at home alone, this is ideal. It’s also a useful item to have in storage if you’re going away for a few days. As well as grooming the cat, they’re also a form of entertainment. It’s one more thing for your pet to play with!
Cons: You’re reducing the bond between your cat and you. If you’re giving the cat a mat and letting it take care of its own grooming, that’s one less thing your cat looks to you for. Also no solution like this will be as thorough or successful as a human with a brush. Cats just can’t apply as much pressure by rolling on an item as you can brushing them, so thick matting and tight knots will likely stay there.
Typical price: Cat grooming mats usually retail at $15, or thereabouts.
1.7 Cat Grooming Post
Description: You know what a cat scratching post is. Now imagine exactly the same thing, but instead of material for cats to scratch, it’s made of the same material as cat grooming mats. In fact, some cat grooming posts have a scratching section as well for a two-in-one experience!
Pros: All of the benefits of a cat grooming mat also apply here. In some ways they’re even better, as it may be easier for a cat to rub up against something and apply pressure than it is to roll on it.
Cons: Again, the same drawbacks that apply to cat grooming mats apply to cat grooming posts. if you buy a two-in-one post that also has a scratcher, some cats may just take it all as the same thing and decide that the grooming features are another fun toy for them to scratch at.
Typical price: $30 or so, perhaps more if you also want a scratcher incorporated into it.
2. Cat Shampoo
There are almost as many options for shampooing cats as there are for shampooing humans. If we went through an exhaustive list of all of these options, you’d be here for the rest of the day, and we’re sure you don’t want that.
Cat shampoos are available for all the reasons you can think of. You can buy cat shampoo on its own. There’s also cat shampoo and conditioner. Special cat shampoos for assistance in removing fleas are quite common, too. Hypoallergenic cat shampoos for cats with health conditions and allergies are out there on the market.
There are even special scented cat shampoos for those poor kitties who have a bit of an odour problem! Some genius has even created cat shampoo with infused catnip, as if having an excitable cat in a bathtub would ever be a good idea.
Instead of breaking down every single shampoo – because they really are just different takes on the same thing – let’s look at the pros and cons of shampooing your cat!
Pros: There are a number of benefits to shampooing and bathing your cat – especially if you have a cat with health problems. Cat shampoos can deal with ringworm and flea infestations in ways that grooming alone might not. It also might be necessary to get something off their coat. Flea treatments are an obvious one, but mischievous cats can get covered in anything. Tree sap can be a problem. So is motor oil if your cat likes to hide out underneath cars. If your cat is the adventurous type and likes to come and go as it pleases, by the way, you might want to think about a cat flap. We’ve got a great cat flap guide for you. Large cats, or elderly cats with arthritis, may not be able to groom themselves properly. A bath can help them with this no end.
Cons: There is no downside at all to bathing or shampooing your cat. Cats can get all the same benefits from this as humans can. The only big problem is persuading your cat that it’s in their interests! As you’ve probably noticed, they tend to avoid large pools of water. Dogs will happily jump in a lake and swim. Cats won’t. They really don’t like getting wet all that much. Most of them won’t even go out for long in the rain! The biggest barrier to bathing or shampooing your cat is getting you cat to agree to the process. That may take time and training.
Typical price: It’s really hard to say. Basic every day shampoos are only $5 or $10, but if you want specifics, like flea treatments or allergy remedies, you’re going to have to pay more.
3. Cat Scissors and Cat Nail Clippers
There are some things that brushing and washing can’t do alone. You’ll need proper scissors or clippers for some tasks, and there are a range of them available. From giving your long haired cat a haircut to trimming down claws that are too sharp, there’s a solution out there for you.
3.1 Electric Cat Shavers
Description: A cat specific version of the same tool that you may use to shave hair off your own body. They can be used to trim down excess cat hair, or for precision shaving around the face and whiskers. They usually come with a range of length adaptors, so they can be used for cats with all lengths of hair, and they’re fitted with chargeable batteries.
Pros: Trim away excess hair with ease. If you have thick, matted fur that just won’t come out any other way, a shaver will do it for you.
Cons: Cats don’t really like to be shaved. Their fur is essential to regulating their temperature, and they prefer to stay in control of how much they have. With brushing, you’re removing excess hair that the cat doesn’t need. With shaving, you could remove essential warmth. One slip and you could hurt your cat or leave it with less fur than it needs to be comfortable. They also make a noise, which can cause anxiety in your pet.
Typical price: Around $20 should see you right.
3.2 Cat Hair Trimming Scissors
Description: Most people don’t just get their hair shaved off when they visit the hairdresser; they get some precision work done with scissors. The same option is available for your cat.
Pros: These are great for getting rid of heavy matted or tangled patches of fur without cutting away at the surrounding area, like an electric clipper would. They can also be used to remove irritating hair around the ears or paws.
Cons: Again, when it comes to cat grooming, cats prefer to remain in charge of fur length. You should only be looking to cut your cat’s hair this way if there’s good reason for it – usually a practical or medical one. Extra special care should be taken to make sure you don’t cut your cat’s whiskers, which they rely on for navigation and sensitivity. These are also a worry for nervous cats – how would you like a blade being taken near your face when you don’t have control over it?
Typical price: They’re really just specially adapted scissors, so they’re not expensive. Somewhere between $5 and $10 is the expected cost.
3.3 Cat Nail Clippers & Trimmers
Description: They generally take one of two forms – small, specially adapted scissors, or something similar to the device you’d use to clip your own nails.
Pros: They’re designed for one purpose only – keeping the length of your cat’s claws in check. This is sometimes necessary if long claws are causing problems when grooming, or if they’re frequently scratching you by accident. If your cat keeps catching claws in the carpet or other materials, it can be a sign that they need a trim. Equally, cats with health conditions may need help with keeping their claws trim. An overweight or elderly cat who doesn’t walk around as much as they used to won’t wear their claws down, and so they’ll grow long.
Cons: Outside of practical or health reasons, it’s not advisable to trim cats claws at all. They rely on them for a number of reasons, including self confidence. All cats are hunters at heart, and without claws they won’t feel they can hunt or defend themselves. It’s also quite difficult to do. Aside from the problem of getting your cat to stay still and allow you to do it, there’s another issue.
Not all of what we see of a cat’s claw is just nail. There’s an area called the ‘quick’ which contains blood vessels. Cut too deeply, and you’ll hurt your cat. For many reasons, a lot of people prefer to use a vet or professional cat groomer instead of attempting this themselves. We advise entirely against clipping your cat’s nails.
4. Cat Hygiene Products
We bet there’s more in your personal hygiene arsenal than just a comb, some shampoo and a razor, so why should your kitty go without a full cabinet? There are still more cat grooming products available, and here are some of the options that are geared towards good hygiene!
4.1 Pet Wet Wipes
Description: Which of us, on a hot, sweaty day, doesn’t like the feeling of having a wet wipe applied to your skin to cool you down? They’re also available for cats! They look exactly the same, except they’re treated with different chemicals. Human wet wipes aren’t guaranteed to be suitable for cats; you’re best off with a pet friendly option.
Pros: Pet wet wipes cool and sooth your cat, exactly as the same way they would for you. They can be used to remove ‘goo’ (we couldn’t think of a better word) from around your cat’s eyes, as well as get dirt out from between paws. They’re a good cleaning option if your cat straight out refuses to get into a bath. Good wipes don’t remove other treatments from your cat’s fur either, for example flea treatments.
Cons: You’re still getting your cat damp, and it might not thank you for it. Even though they’re designed to be harmless, your cat may find the residue left on its fur to be unpleasant when it goes to groom itself, which can disrupt its own grooming regime. Try them in moderation first and see if your cat is still happy to groom the area you apply it to, before you consider giving it an all over cat wipe scrub!
Typical price: Inexpensive. There’s no reason to pay more than $5 unless you’re buying in bulk.
4.2 Face Cleaning Fluid
Description: In appearance, this often looks like a bottle of mouthwash. It’s actually a cat specific cleaning fluid designed especially to get stains, marks and other dirt build ups away from your cat’s eyes or mouth.
Pros: An alternative to disposable wipes. Take a normal cotton wool pad or tissue, apply a little cleaning fluid and you’l find it easier to get rid of those residue or detritus build ups. They’re also clean, fresh and gentle, so your cat should feel like it’s had a spa treatment! It’s especially good at removing stubborn stains from paws.
Cons: The exact same cons that apply to the pet wipes in general. Don’t be surprised if your cat leans to associate the bottle with having itself wiped down, and runs away before you can even apply it to a tissue!
Typical price: A regular sized bottle shouldn’t cost more than $5.
4.3 Cat Grooming Shampoo Spray
Description: Ever used dry shampoo when you’ve been in a rush? This works to the same principle. It’s a shampoo for cats that you don’t need to take into the bathroom with you. Simply spray it on and then wipe it down for a shampoo treatment that doesn’t involve any water at all.
Pros: This is a way of getting the benefits of cat shampooing, without the battle of getting your furry friend into the bathtub. It will get your cat completely clean, and some brands have conditioner built in to help with their shine.
Cons: You’re spraying your cat with liquid. Consider your cat’s temperament, and how much it’s likely to enjoy that. Also not all brands are friendly to delicate areas like the eyes, so you have to be careful not to make any contact there. If your cat runs off before you get chance to rub the shampoo in, it may get it into its eyes itself in an attempt to get the shampoo off, so extra caution is needed.
Typical price: $10-15 depending on whether you want conditioner included or not.
You should now have a good understanding of cat grooming accessories, and feel adequately prepared to give your cat a full boutique treatment! They may love some ideas more than others, but there’s something here for every cat. If you still have questions, let’s try to get them answered for you.
Should I Brush My Cat?
Yes. This is part of your responsibility as a cat owner! Everybody who owns a cat should be doing some degree of cat grooming, and brushing is the most basic form it can take. It helps keep your cat regulate its temperature, as well as building and strengthening the bond between cat and owner. So assess the different cat crush types, work out which is the most appropriate for you, and build yourself a cat grooming kit!
How Often Should I Brush My Cat?
Frequently. If you have a long haired cat, we’d suggest doing at least a little grooming twice a day. A shorthaired cat would appreciate a grooming session from you 2-3 times a week, just to make sure everything is as it should be!
Should I Shave My Cat?
Only if there’s a physical or practical need. Most cats will never need to be shaved for as long as they live, and shaving them takes away from their ability to control their own environment. Only shave your cat if there’s no other option.
Should I Give My Cat A Bath, and Do Cats Need Baths?
If your cat will let you, yes! Cats can enjoy baths just as much as people can, and get all the same benefits. They don’t absolutely ‘need’ baths, but then there’s no downside to giving them one, so why wouldn’t you? There is no negative to bathing your cat. How to bathe a cat is another matter; they all have their own distinct personalities, and some of them will accept a bath more easily than others with. If your cat is
the type to battle against you at bath time, you may find you have the same problem with getting it into a cat carrier! That doesn’t have to be the case. We’ve got a cat carrier guide that might help you find a solution your cat can get on board with. Many of the tips we outline there to help with getting a cat into a carrier are also useful when trying to persuade them to take a bath.
Should I Trim My Cat’s Claws?
We’d give you similar advice here as we do on shaving your cat. Only if there’s a physical or practical need. Your cats claws are part of its identity. They should only be trimmed if they present a hazard to you, or to your cat. It’s also a difficult thing to do and get right – only attempt trimming your cat’s claws if you’re a very confident owner. It may be better to seek professional advice before attempting this. The question of how to clip cats nails is best answered by someone with the relevant qualifications.
We hope you’ve found this article useful! There are products available for every type of cat, and every type of owner. Do your cat a favour and get it a nice comb as a minimum. Where you go from there is up to you! Thanks for reading.