The Five Essential Cat Grooming Tools

"I love cats because I enjoy my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." --Jean Cocteau One would hope that visible soul Mr. Cocteau is referencing would not include loose balls of cat hair, rolling around your floor like so many furry tumbleweeds. A groomed cat will yield a fur-free home and a contented pet. To achieve that goal, you need the proper tools.

There are more than five cat grooming tools, but the items that should be essential to any cat owner's home include:

  • Nail clippers
  • Bristle brush
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Toothbrush
  • Pet wipes

You might also consider purchasing a flea comb, but most cat owners today rely on monthly anti-flea control products such as Advantage or Revolution, or they keep their cats indoors permanently so they have no chance to encounter fleas.

Why Nail Clippers?

Nail clippers are inexpensive (usually under $10), easy to use and the quickest way to make sure your cat's natural scratching tendencies don't result in shredded upholstery or screen doors. A scratching post or platform will not be enough to keep the sharp tips from forming on your cat's claws. The surgical procedure of removing the cat's claws is never recommended and in many locations no longer allowed.

There are a variety of clippers to choose from but most fall into the "guillotine" safety tool bucket, where the nail is inserted into a small opening and a slight squeeze cuts the tip. Cat claw scissors are also available, and they generally have blunted ends to prevent cutting accidents for both pet and owner.

Types Of Brushes And Combs

There are dozens of brush types to choose from. Some are designed to groom specific types of cats (long hair vs. short hair for example) or to accomplish specific goals (remove dander or under coat). The bristles on a cat brush can be hard, soft, wire or pin type. A slicker brush is a flat rectangular platform covered with slender steel bristles. It can be used on all cat types and most cats love it. Cats groomed in the same place every day with this tool learn to seek for it and they practically beg to be brushed. If cats were dogs, they would fetch this tool and bring it to you while you are watching Animal Planet.

Rubber grooming pads and grooming gloves that fit over the hand are also available. These provide a chance to massage your cat's skin and they are effective at removing dead hair from cats with short coats. Combs are effective too. They are either fine-toothed (sometimes known as a flea comb) or wide tooth. It may be necessary to work slowly with a comb and sprinkle talcum powder to gently work hair mats out of a long-haired cat's coat.

Time To Start Brushing Your Cat's Teeth

Many owners who faithfully brush their kitties' teeth several times a week may not know that cats require dental care, just like humans. Here's a great wake-up call: cats that have heavy deposits of tartar, tooth decay and possible gum disease will need a trip to the vet for professional cleaning and dental procedures. This will require general anesthesia, pain killers and antibiotics. Afterwards the owner will be presented with a bill for approximately $500 or more. A toothbrush and paste kit will cost you less than ten dollars and will help kitty's dental health if used a few times a week. You do the math.

Alternative Grooming Products And Tools

  • Soft claw nail products: Caps that humanely fit over your cat's claws. Labor intensive to install, especially if the cat is not cooperating, but they come in a variety of colors and could be fun for holidays.
  • "Peticure" type electric nail trimmers: You've probably seen these demonstrated on TV. The product works, but it is difficult to learn proper usage. Some cats can't tolerate the electronic noise.
  • Pet wipes and sprays: These are moist disposable towels and sprays that can be used for a quick touch up or in place of a full bath. They help reduce dander and some contain Aloe Vera and/or Vitamin E to keep you cat's coat soft and shiny. They are always non-toxic and safe for kitty.

Sometimes you purchase all the right grooming tools and use them faithfully on your beloved cat, yet still find yourself heading off to work covered in cat hair. When that happens it's time to invest in the sixth most essential cat grooming tool: a lint roller for the owner!