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A Waterdown, ON Vet Answers Top FAQs About How To Groom A Senior Cat

March 1, 2024

There are many things to love about our feline friends. They’re cute, charming, fun, and cuddly. They’re also very clean! Fluffy diligently grooms herself every day. In fact, she may spend as much as a third of her time on her beauty regime, keeping her fur soft, shiny, and tangle-free. However, as your kitty ages, she may start to slack on this. Your pet may actually need some help at this point. A local Waterdown, ON veterinarian discusses grooming a senior kitty in this article.

Why Do Senior Cats Need Grooming Help?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes kitties in their golden years look a bit disheveled? As Fluffy grows older, she’ll naturally lose some of her strength and flexibility. This can make it hard for her to bend and stretch, which will in turn make it difficult for her to reach her entire body.

There’s also the fact that kitties tend to get a bit chubby as they age. (Extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for a variety of reasons, but we’ll stick with grooming for now.) If Fluffy is, well, not just fluffy, she’ll have difficulty reaching all of her body parts.

Increasing oiliness is another factor. Your pet’s body chemistry will change as she ages. Older cats’ skin may produce more oil than their younger counterparts. This can make Fluffy’s coat look greasy. Mats and tangles are also more common in older cats, even in kitties with short fur.

How Often Should I Groom My Senior Cat?

That depends on your pet’s hairstyle. Cats with long fur require more attention here, because they can get knots and tangles, which are quite uncomfortable. However, kitties with short fur still benefit from the help, and may need assistance removing dust and dander from their coats.

Short-haired cats may only need to be brushed once or twice a week. Furballs with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Consult your veterinarian.

Should I Bathe My Senior Cat?

Generally, you don’t need to bathe Fluffy. If something spills on her fur, however, you might need to do so.

You should follow the same rules for bathing an older cat as you would for any other kitty. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too deep. You want lukewarm water, which shouldn’t be any higher than your cat’s chest.

Be sure to only use products made specifically for Fluffy. Human soaps and shampoos are often too harsh for our feline friends. These products can strip the oils from kitties’ coats. Your cat’s fur may become dry and frizzy as a result.

Is It Dangerous To Bathe A Senior Cat?

Generally speaking, no, but there are some things to consider with older cats. Older cats are generally frailer and weaker than kittens. If your cat does not enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy cat is not easy! Your pet may slip, and if she does fall, could be injured. (You may also end up getting scratched.)

Fluffy will also be quite sensitive to weather changes, and could get chilly while she’s wet. If it’s chilly outside, turn up the heater a bit to make sure she stays warm as she is drying off. If she doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her. Just use a low setting.

Is It A Good Idea To Cut My Older Cat’s Claws?

Declawing has fallen out of favor as more and more people realize that it’s much more involved than what was once assumed. You can trim your cat’s claws. This is painless and temporary, just as nail trims are for us. However, you should keep a few things in mind.

The biggest thing is that Fluffy’s nails are her only defense. If you have other pets or let your cat go outside, cutting them could endanger her. (Note: we recommend keeping all cats inside. However, this is particularly important for seniors. They may not be fast or strong enough to evade danger. Plus, they are at risk of getting lost. Just like people, older kitties can get confused and forgetful. Your feline pal could forget how to get home!)

Your pet may also use her claws to grip things. Fluffy could hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch and doesn’t realize she won’t be able to cling. Set out lots of pet ramps and stairs, so your furry friend doesn’t have to jump as much.

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Groom My Cat?

This one will be up to you and Fluffy! However, you may find that your pet enjoys being groomed if you make it part of your regular routine. If your kitty snuggles up on your lap as you are relaxing or watching TV, that may be a good time.

In Addition To Brushing My Senior Cat, What Else Should I Do?

You may need to clean Fluffy’s ears or eyes regularly. If she has long hair, you may also need to gently trim around her bottom. Dental care is also important. Ask your Waterdown, ON vet for specific advice!

Do Senior Cats Like Being Brushed?

Many do! If Fluffy equates brushing with pampering, she may even look forward to her beauty sessions. Of course, if your cat doesn’t enjoy being brushed, she may struggle, which will make the process less pleasant for both of you.

If your cat likes to curl up on your lap at night, wait until she feels relaxed and cuddly. Begin by petting her gently. Move in the direction of her fur. Start with just your hand, then slowly incorporate the brush.

Work in cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. Don’t be surprised if she starts her engine. Many kitties love being pampered.

Your cat will likely let you know when she’s tired, most likely just by walking away. Don’t force her to submit beyond that. An unhappy cat can be very difficult to brush or bathe. As a result, your pet may fall or slip, which is dangerous. Plus, she might retreat under the bed the next time you try to groom her, giving you that death stare kitties do so well.

How Can I Remove Tangles From My Cat’s Fur?

You may want to consider a special detangling brush if your cat has long hair. These brushes are designed to remove mats, and will often work on smaller knots.

Once a mat becomes ‘established,’ you’re unlikely to get it out by combing. In any case, you should avoid forcing it. Older cats have fragile skin, which can rip or tear easily. The last thing you want to do is hurt your furry friend.

Snarls can be clipped out using blunt-end scissors, but be careful not to cut your kitty’s skin.

 If your furry friend often gets mats or tangles, she may need to be brushed more often. Or you may need to take her to a groomer. Ask your Waterdown, ON veterinarians for specific advice.

Our Advice on How To Groom A Senior Cat in 2024

Are there any specific types of brushes or combs that are recommended for senior cats with different coat lengths and textures?

For senior cats, using the right brushes or combs is essential. For short-haired cats, a soft-bristle brush or rubber grooming mitt effectively removes loose fur and dirt. For long-haired cats, a stainless steel comb with wide and narrow teeth helps detangle and prevent mats. Additionally, a slicker brush can be useful for removing loose hair and reducing shedding. A detangling brush is recommended for long-haired cats prone to mats. Always choose gentle tools to avoid irritating your senior cat’s delicate skin, and consult with your veterinarian for personalized recommendations.

How can you tell if a senior cat is experiencing pain or discomfort during grooming?

To tell if a senior cat is experiencing pain or discomfort during grooming, watch for signs like flinching, vocalizing, or trying to escape. Excessive licking, biting, or scratching at the area being groomed can also indicate discomfort. Notice any changes in behavior, such as sudden aggression or withdrawal, which can signal pain. Additionally, be aware of any physical signs like swelling, redness, or sensitivity to touch. If your cat shows any of these signs, stop grooming immediately and consult your veterinarian to address any underlying health issues or discomfort.

Are there any supplements or dietary changes that can improve the condition of a senior cat’s coat and skin to make grooming easier?

Supplements and dietary changes can significantly improve a senior cat’s coat and skin, making grooming easier. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, promote a healthy, shiny coat and reduce inflammation. Adding high-quality protein sources to the diet supports overall skin health and fur maintenance. Antioxidants like vitamins E and C can help improve skin condition and boost the immune system. Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements or making dietary changes to ensure they are appropriate for your senior cat’s specific health needs.

What are some techniques for safely restraining a senior cat during grooming if they tend to struggle or become agitated?

To safely restrain a senior cat during grooming, use gentle techniques to minimize stress and prevent injury. Wrap the cat in a soft towel, leaving only the area being groomed exposed. This “kitty burrito” method provides comfort and limits movement. Another approach is to use a grooming bag designed to securely hold the cat while allowing access for grooming. If the cat becomes agitated, take breaks and offer treats to create positive associations. Always handle the cat gently and speak soothingly to keep them calm. If needed, seek assistance from a professional groomer or veterinarian.

How often should a senior cat’s nails be trimmed, and what are the best tools to use for elderly cats specifically?

A senior cat’s nails should be trimmed every 2 to 4 weeks to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. For elderly cats, use specialized tools such as a guillotine-style clipper or a scissor-type nail trimmer, which offer better control and precision. Additionally, consider using a nail grinder for a smoother finish, as it can be gentler on brittle nails. Ensure the cat is comfortable and calm during the process, and only trim the tip of the nail to avoid cutting the quick, which can be painful and cause bleeding. Regular trimming helps maintain mobility and overall paw health.

Call us, your local Waterdown, ON pet hospital, today if you have questions about caring for a senior cat! We’re here to help! 

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