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
- 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!
Related Advice from Other Cat Owners
How to Get Your Cat to Accept Grooming
My cat was terrible to groom when I first got her. She had to be completely shaven as she had fur "wings" off her body at least eight inches out.
What worked for us was shaving her completely, and then I would give her two days with the grooming tools out next to the treats. The next day, when she was letting me pet her, I'd casually pick one up, but I wouldn't use it on her.
We did this for probably about three more days. Eventually, I found out that she really loves getting her face scratched. So I started using the greyhound comb just on her cheeks. At first, she was a little put off, but she quickly warmed up. She loves getting her face brushed now. I'll do two or three swipes on her cheeks, and then gently do her back.
Every day, I start with her face, then slowly move to another body part. It's been about eight months, and I still don't groom her in one fell swoop, but every two days I probably finish up whole body.
The trick for me was this: when we were first starting out and saw that she was uncomfortable, I'd either move back to her face where she loved it or soothe her and give her a treat and then be done for the day.
This way, grooming was never scary. I also brushed her every day when she didn't have hair, just to keep her going and used to it, and it worked!
~Mandii E., owner of Himalayan
Shampooing Your Cat Can Help Shedding Problems
Most long haired cats need some help with their fur. Since I started showing Maine Coons, I have learned the fine art of the cat shampoo. And learned that shampooing my cats removes TONS of dead fur. I highly recommend the occasional shampoo.
My cats have no hairball problems because they are shampooed regularly. Yes, we do have shedding, but we would have more shedding if I didn't shampoo them regularly. Any shampoo that works for your cat is fine. Maine Coons tend to get greasy, and dish detergent is often used. Find out what shampoo works for your cat.
Personally, I think that if you aren't up to grooming your long haired cat, you should have chosen a short hair. On the other hand, using that as an excuse to put the cat in a shelter sounds cruel. Learn to groom.
~Valerie D., owner of Maine Coon
Constant Maintenance is Key to Controlling Cat Fur
I've come to the conclusion that constant maintenance is the key, at least for my long-haired cats. I use one of those furminator de-shedding tools to wipe out much of the undercoat, but still, even with vigilant brushing and vacuuming, there's still hair everywhere.
I balked at the price of furminators when I bought mine initially, but I feel they do work well, and the blade on mine has yet to wear out after over two years. Furminate, then brush a few times weekly, but either way, long-haired cats are prone to matted fur which needs to be clipped out periodically.
~Aaron L., owner of Domestic Long Hair
Helping Your Cat with Hairballs
You can help the hairball situation by grooming your cats with a Furminator, Zoom Groom, or the professional groomers' favorite, a metal comb. A regular bristle brush or a metal pin brush can also be useful, depending on your cat's particular fur type. Finally, a bath every once in a while (make sure to scrub well and rinse, rinse, rinse) will also do wonders for getting rid of loose and dead hair. If you help out your cat with regular grooming, there won't be so much necessity for hairball remedies or hairball control food.
~Valerie D., owner of a Maine Coon
If Your Cat Vomits a Lot
If your kitty vomits a lot and hasn't been to the vet in a while, I would take her to the vet for an exam. I have a cat that vomits a good deal sometimes and there is nothing wrong with her, as she maintains her weight. But, something could be wrong with your kitty and only a vet could diagnose the problem. When one of my cats starting vomiting and losing weight, he became allergic to the foods he was eating. It could so many things.
~Patricia P., owner of a cat
Don't Get Too Alarmed
As long as the hairball is mainly hair, I would not worry. It is a normal part of being a cat. I give my cats Petromalt, which they absolutely love and lick right off my fingers. Give it 2-3 times a week until hairball symptoms subside and then lower it to once or twice.
Brushing and bathing can also help remove the loose hair and can help reduce hairballs. I have also heard that Vaseline, butter, and canned pumpkin can help reduce hairballs (although I am not sure of the proper amounts on these last few).
~Ellie C., owner of a Domestic Shorthair