|Purred: Tue Aug 5, '08 5:49pm PST |
|All of Atrus' advice is very good, and I don't have too much to add.
I shampoo my Maine Coons regularly (especially Harvey) because they are show cats, and must be shampooed before each show. I use a bunch of products designed for cat show exhibitors, but depending on my mood, a mild dish detergent is one of the things I use--it's especially effective for getting out the grease for cats with oily fur. I wouldn't worry too much about what kind of shampoo you use; you just want to get Nikki clean, not prepare him for a beauty contest. Just make sure that you rinse very thoroughly--if possible, with a hand-held shower head.
Also, many people say that shampooing too often can lead to dry skin, but my own experience tells me that this isn't true--during the peak of the show season, my cats can get a very thorough shampoo and blow dry every week, and none of them have ever had dry skin, nor have I heard of this as being a problem for other exhibitors and breeders. Of course, it could be a problem for some individual cats, but I think it's more likely that the FUR would become rather dry and lusterless rather than the skin.
As for whether cats need baths--it all depends on the cat. My childhood cat, who was an indoor/outdoor cat, never had a bath in her life. Nor did the cats I had before the ones I have now. But none of the cats in question ever appeared dirty (they were shorthaired, by the way), except for the one who died at 18--in the last year of his life, he became unable to groom himself very well, and his fur was dry and lifeless-looking, but I didn't want to shampoo him because of his advanced age. Long-haired cats, however, usually DO need the occasional shampoo; think of all the Persians you've seen who were once white fluff balls and are now grey and matted.
Now, as for Nikki's dander (dandruff?) and scratching. A good shampoo will definitely help, but I suspect that there may be a health problem that should be looked into. It could be something as simple as feeding him better food; or it could be a food allergy. Fat cats like my Spot often can't groom themselves very well. Also, I think I've heard that dandruff can be a sign of diabetes. Is there any possibility that he has some kind of infestation problem that could be causing the itching? In any event, when Spot developed oily fur and dandruff, I took him to the vet for a thorough physical and blood workup. There were no particular health irregularities, so we decided that his problem was related to his obesity (he's on a diet now) and the fact that, since there had been three kittens in the house, one after another, he'd been dipping into the kitten food (which has more calories and fats than regular food), and that was a contributory cause to the problem. So, my advice would be that you see a vet to rule out any allergies, infestations, or other health problems.
In any event, many cats do benefit from a regular bath. Even though most of them don't like it, after the bath, they seem to enjoy feeling cleaner. And the fact that a bath is great for removing loose and dead fur makes it cooler for the cat in the summer, and is a great way to prevent hairballs.
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