Grooming Your Cat

Being Fussed Over Is Only Half the Benefit

There are many health, beauty, and social benefits to grooming your cat. While one of the most satisfying rewards may be the bonding that takes place while brushing, the most important may be the revealing of serious medical problems that need to be addressed. Whether the benefit is purely emotional or illuminating, grooming should become a regular part of your life with your favorite feline.

For the health of it
The process of grooming provides the opportunity to look for signs of poor health, says William Miller, VMD, professor of dermatology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Miller advises that while grooming your cat you should look and feel for abnormalities that may indicate a problem. For instance, there is a pink lump on the ear. Is it a mosquito bite or a lump that needs to be observed?

While checking the ears, Miller says to look for ear mites and yeast infections, and while combing the fur, look for signs of fleas. Basically, while grooming, look for lumps, bumps, and scales, Miller advises.

At the same time, says Lolly Van Hyning, a certified pet groomer in Ithaca, New York, This is a good time to check the mouth for a foul odor or red gums and to look at the teeth for plaque and tartar build up.

Your grooming sessions also give you a chance to look at your cats eyes for any signs of tearing or discharge, at her nails to see if they need to be clipped, and to feel her gently all over for any unusual internal lumps or bumps.

Surprisingly, Van Hyning says that maggots are one of major problems she sees.

According to Van Hyning, the fur around the anus of longhaired cats can become matted where it then can collect fecal matter and urine. Flies can lay eggs, and maggots can develop within 24 hours, she warns. That, of course, is the extreme, and most caregivers will never have to deal with that situation.

Looking good
Of course, helping your cat look good is another benefit of grooming. Regular brushing will prevent her hair from matting (and may even reduce hair ball formation by giving her less hair to ingest) and will help her coat gleam.

Miller and Van Hyning agree that while most cats are meticulous groomers, there may come a time when, due to illness, age, or obesity, they can no longer do an adequate job and youll have to take over. Thus, it is important that they be accustomed to being touched, brushed, and fussed over by you. And, with every session youll grow closer to each other – a real bonus youll both appreciate.