For most cat owners the need for bathing and coat care remains neglected as they are known for being cleaner than most domestic pets. However, if you have kids or prefer for your cat to be free to roam indoors and outdoors, you will quickly discover that care and upkeep are essential to keeping your feline friend healthy and beautiful.
It can be quite difficult to submit such an independent animal to regular care but it is well worth the task. Many health problems such as a sluggish liver, diabetes, food allergies, kidney and thyroid disorders manifest themselves in the coat and skin of a cat - not to mention parasites and fleas or ticks. If you have a young cat and begin a weekly grooming schedule it will be much easier to handle and they will adapt much better than more aged cats. I have provided some healthy tips that will assist you in taking that little bit of much-needed extra care and attention.
What To Look For
- Matted or sticky fur
- Lumps, abscesses or wounds
- Clumps of fur (shedding)
- Indications of your cat's health: healthy pink gums show good health while pale pink gums can signify health problems
- Clear, bright eyes
- Because cats already spend so much time grooming, avoid brushing/grooming your cat's fur more than once a week (if he/she is short-haired). Occasional brushing does, however, reduce clumps of shed fur around the house and keeps his/her coat looking sleek and healthy.
- Use brushes with natural bristles when brushing your cat's fur to reduce static and gently brush from its head to it's tail.
- Use a narrow-toothed comb or bristle brush for short-haired cats and a wide-toothed comb for a long-haired cat.
- When brushing a long-haired cat's coat, brush upward against the way the hair naturally lays starting with the legs and moving upward to the head. You can brush a long-haired cat's coat more than once a week to prevent matting and tangled fur.
- Do not soak mats you find in your cat's coat as the water will only make the knots tighter. Gently pull the tangle apart before cleaning the cat.
- If you live in rural areas and your cat spends time outdoors, check for ticks or fleas when you groom your cat. This is also a great time to check the condition of the cat's coat and skin (the best indicators of its overall internal health).
- If it is necessary to bathe your cat, use a very mild shampoo, rinse well and dry your cat off quickly with towels and/or a blow dryer set on a low setting.
- Keep your cat's bedding clean and dust-free.
- Incorporate foods containing amino acids, B complex vitamins, zinc, minerals and essential fatty acids to your cat's diet to keep its skin and fur healthy.
- Vitamins E and A, aloe-vera, calendula, sweet basil and turmeric are great healing compounds and are also very soothing for your cat's fur and skin.