Although staying well-groomed comes naturally to cats, by assisting with regular grooming sessions, you can enjoy a bonding experience and help your pet to look good. A clean coat is healthy and comfortable.
Benefits of grooming
Cats spend a large part of the day self-grooming—wetting their paws to wipe their face, cleaning between each toe, and twisting their flexible spine to reach awkward places such as shoulders and anal areas.
The surface of a cat’s tongue is covered with minute barbs and these act as a comb to collect skin debris and loose hairs and to smooth out tangles. In fact, cats are so particular about daily grooming that it may not seem necessary to give them any extra help.
One reason for grooming your cat is that it strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Grooming cats from a young age helps establish this special bond. Most cats enjoy the close contact with their owners and the sensation of being brushed or combed. You can also give your cat a general check-up while grooming. Take the opportunity to inspect eyes, ears, and claws, and to monitor your cat for possible health problems such as parasites, hidden injuries, lumps and bumps, and changes in weight.
Another benefit is that regular grooming helps reduce the amount of loose hairs that cats lick up and swallow.
Normally, the hair forms into harmless balls in the stomach, which the cat then coughs up. However, sometimes the balls become large enough that they are a health hazard, causing choking or becoming lodged in the lower gut, and causing a blockage in the digestive tract. In old age, cats sometimes lose their enthusiasm for hygiene and may need gentle grooming to help them maintain dignity and cleanliness.
The sudden neglect of self-grooming in cats of any age is a warning sign that all is not well, and needs to be investigated by a vet
In longhaired cats such as Persians, the undercoat can be massively thick. The coat not only collects debris from around the home and garden but tends to form tangles that no amount of licking can remove. Neglected tangles can easily turn into impenetrable mats, especially in areas of the body where there is friction, such as the armpits.
Even the most fastidious longhaired cats simply cannot keep their coats in good order by their own efforts, so owners need to lend a hand. In extreme cases there will be no option but to cut the matted hair away— a task that needs professional skill. Longhairs are also at greater risk than shorthairs of collecting large furballs. If you own a longhaired cat, a daily grooming session is necessary .
Semi-longhaired cats, which include Maine Coons and the Balinese, have a silky topcoat and a minimal undercoat, so their fur remains free from matting and tangling. Weekly brushing and combing is all that is required. Some cats have fine, wavy, or rippled coats, as seen in the Cornish Rex, and a few breeds sport longer curls. Such coats do not shed heavily and are not as difficult to maintain as might be imagined.
Over-vigorous grooming can spoil the appearance of the fur, so bathing rather than brushing is often recommended for this type of cat . Shorthaired cats have a topcoat of sleek guard hairs and a soft, downy undercoat of varying thickness.
Although the undercoat may shed quite heavily, especially in warm weather, these cats are generally very easy to maintain. Grooming once a week is usually sufficient for shorthairs. Hairless cats such as the Sphynx are not usually entirely bald but have an overlay of fine fuzz.
This thin covering is not enough to absorb the natural body oils that are secreted through the skin and regular bathing is needed to prevent a greasy buildup.