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How To Groom A Senior Cat

January 15, 2024

One of the many wonderful things about cats is their cleanliness. Fluffy will groom herself daily, making sure that her fur stays soft, shiny, and free of tangles. In fact, she may spend up to a third of her waking hours grooming herself As your kitty ages, you may notice that she doesn’t care as much about her beauty regime as she once did. At this stage, she might actually need some help. Here are some tips from a local North Redington Beach, FL vet on grooming a senior furball.


What Are the Benefits of Grooming Senior Cats?


Have you ever noticed that sometimes older cats tend to look a bit disheveled? It’s because as your kitty grows older, she’ll naturally lose some strength and flexibility, which makes it difficult for her to bend and stretch. She may have difficulty reaching her entire body as a result.


Many of our feline pals become chubby as they age. (Extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for many reasons, but we will stay on grooming in this blog.) If your cat is too big, she won’t be able to groom herself properly.


Your pet’s skin may also become more oily as she ages. Older cats’ skin can sometimes produce more oil than their younger counterparts, making Fluffy’s coat look greasy. It also causes mats and tangles, even in kitties with short fur. This problem can be exacerbated in kitties with medical issues, such as diabetes or thyroid problems.


How Often Should I Groom My Senior Cat?


This will vary, depending on the length and thickness of Fluffy’s fur. Some furballs may only need to be brushed once a week. Cats with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Consult your North Redington Beach, FL vet for specific instructions.


Should I Bathe A Senior Cat?


Fluffy doesn’t need to be bathed for the most part. However, you can if you want to. You should also contact your veterinarian or a professional groomer right away if something sticky or unsafe spills on your pet’s fur, or if she is extremely soiled or matted. 


If you are bathing an older kitty, you will need to follow the same rules as if you were bathing any other cat:


  • Use lukewarm water. This should not be any higher than your cat’s chest. 
  • Only use products specifically designed for cats. (Human soaps and shampoos are too harsh for our feline friends. This can leave her fur dry and frizzy by stripping the oils from her fur.)
  • Be careful not to get soap in your kitty’s eyes or mouth.
  • Rinse thoroughly!


There are a few things to keep in mind with older cats. Fluffy will be quite sensitive to weather changes, and might get quite cold if she gets wet. You can blow dry her, using a low setting, if she doesn’t mind, but don’t force it. If it’s chilly outside, turn up the heater a bit to keep her warm as she dries off.


It’s also important to remember that older cats are frail and weak … even if they still think of themselves as kittens. If your feline pal doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy kitty isn’t easy! Fluffy could fall if she slips or jumps out of your arms, which could lead to an injury. 


How Do I Brush A Senior Cat Without Getting Scratched?


The key is to make Fluffy look forward to her beauty sessions, which will be much easier if she equates getting brushed to getting pampered. Many of our feline pals actually enjoy being groomed, as long as it happens on their terms. The biggest things are to be gentle, and not force things. Once your pet has had enough, just let her go. Otherwise, your furball may struggle. That will not only make the process less enjoyable for both you and your kitty, but it will also make it more challenging the next time.


Here are a few tips:


Time it Right: Wait until your furry pal is feeling relaxed. If your cat likes to curl up on your lap at night, this would be a good time.


Start Slow: You can begin by gently petting Fluffy. Move your hand in the direction of her fur. Slowly incorporate a brush as you go along.


Sweeten The Deal: Keep your kitty relaxed by giving her cuddles and talking sweetly to her. Don’t be surprised if her engine starts up when you brush gently in the direction of her fur.


What Is The Best Way To Get Tangles Out Of My Cat’s Fur?


Ideally, you’ll want to stop them from forming in the first place. That may mean doing several quick sessions a week, rather than one long one. Using the right tools is also important. Cats with long hair may benefit from a detangling brush. These are designed to get mats out. However, they work best with smaller and still-forming tangles. You are unlikely to be able to remove thick mats by combing them out. be careful not to pull too hard! Older cats have very delicate skin, which is susceptible to tearing and ripping.


You may be able to clip out bad snarls. Use blunt-end scissors and be very careful not to cut your cat’s skin. That said, it may be best to take your kitty to a groomer if she frequently gets mats or tangles. 


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


More and more people realize that declawing is a major procedure, which has for the most part fallen out of favor. These days, many people choose to trim their kitties’ claws. This is painless and temporary, and is both easier and safer for Fluffy. Deciding whether or not to give your pet a pawdicure is probably not the most critical decision you’ll ever make for your feline pal. 


If you plan to let your cat outside, don’t cut her nails. Those little claws are Fluffy’s only defense! (Note: we always recommend keeping older kitties indoors, for safety reasons.) 


What Is The Best Time To Groom My Cat?


We’ll leave this one up to Fluffy! Any time of day will suffice. Just pick a time when your pet is relaxed. You probably won’t have much luck with grooming if your feline buddy has the zoomies.


Your furball will probably let you know when she’s had enough, usually by just walking away. Don’t force her to submit beyond this. As many of you probably already know, an unhappy cat is going to be very difficult to brush or bathe. Forcing it won’t make things easier down the line, either: The next time you attempt to groom Fluffy, she may immediately bolt for her favorite hiding spot. 


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


You may need to clean  your kitty’s ears and eyes. If Fluffy has long hair, you may also need to trim the fur around her bottom. Dental care is also important. 


Finally, make the best of this time. Gently inspect your pet’s body condition, and check for things like swelling, lumps, bumps, or skin issues. Contact your North Redington Beach, FL animal hospital right away if you spot anything amiss. 


Contact us, your local North Redington Beach, FL pet hospital, today if you have questions about caring for a senior kitty. We’re here to help! 


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