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Your Senior Cat’s Grooming Needs

January 15, 2024

One of the many wonderful things about cats is the fact that they are quite clean. Fluffy may spend up to a third of her waking time keeping her fur smooth, shiny, and free of tangles. However, as your feline friend ages, you may notice that she doesn’t take as much time for her beauty regime as she once did. In fact, your pet may need a helping hand. This article offers some tips for grooming a senior cat from a Watertown, WI vet.

Do I Have To Bathe My Senior Cat?

Fluffy doesn’t usually need to be bathed, though you can bathe her if you like. There are a few things to keep in mind here, though.

Make sure that the water is not too hot or too deep. Ideally, the water should not be higher than your kitty’s chest, and it should only be lukewarm. Aside from that, it’s important to use only products designed specifically for cats. Human soaps and shampoos can be too harsh for cats. They can strip the oils from your pet’s fur, leaving it dry and frizzy.

Another thing to note: Fluffy will be sensitive to weather changes and might get chilly while she’s wet. You can blow dry her, using a low heat setting, if she doesn’t mind. If it’s cold outside, turn up the heater a bit so she can stay warm while drying off.

Finally, just remember that older cats are just weaker and frailer than young ones. Most are also no more fond of baths than young felines. (There are a few kitties that enjoy water, but that’s another topic.)  A wet, unhappy cat is not an easy thing to hang onto! If your pet doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she might struggle. Fluffy might slip, and would be more prone to injuries if she does fall. Be very gentle!

If your pet gets something spilled on her fur, or if she is extremely soiled or matted, contact your Watertown, WI veterinarian or a professional groomer.

Why Do Older Cats Need Grooming?

It’s not uncommon for older cats to look slightly disheveled. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, as your cat gets older, she’ll naturally lose strength and flexibility. This makes it harder for her to bend and stretch. As a result, she may have difficulty reaching her entire body.

Obesity is another factor. Many feline retirees are, well, a bit chonky. If Fluffy is overweight, she may not be able to reach every part of her body. (Extra weight is also very bad for her health, but that’s another topic.) 

Another reason Fluffy’s coat may look greasy is that older cats’ skin will naturally produce more oil than younger cats’. This can also happen because of health issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues. Even kitties with short fur are more likely to develop mats and tangles because of that extra oil.

How Often Should I Groom My Older Cat?

There isn’t a set answer here: longhaired cats will need more attention than those wearing short haircuts, because they are more prone to getting tangles. Knots and snarls can be quite uncomfortable, and can also lead to skin problems. However, cats with short fur will also benefit from getting the dust and dander out of their coats. Plus, your pet’s fur won’t keep her warm or cool if it’s matted and dirty. 

Fluffy may only need brushing once or twice a week if she has short fur. Cats with long fur may need brushing several times a week. Ask your vet for specific advice.

What Is The Best Way To Brush A Senior Cat?

It’s important for your feline pal to form a positive association with being groomed. If Fluffy associates being groomed with being pampered, she may even look forward to her beauty sessions. Who doesn’t love a good spa session? However, if your cat decides that she does not enjoy being brushed, then she may struggle. This will not only make the process less pleasant for you both, but it will also make it harder next time.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Wait until your cat feels relaxed and cuddly. If your pet likes to curl up on your lap at night, this would be a good time.
  • Petting her gently in the direction of her fur is the first step. Start with just your hand, and then slowly add the brush.
  • Work in cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. Don’t be surprised if your cat starts to purr. Kitties love being pampered!
  • Let your feline pal decide when the grooming session is over. It’s better to let go and try again another day.

What Is The Best Way To Remove Tangles From My Senior Kitty’s Fur?

For cats with long hair, you may want to get a detangling brush. These are designed to remove mats, and usually do the trick with smaller knots.

Large snarls are another matter. Don’t try to force a thick mat out. Older cats tend to have very delicate skin, which can easily rip or tear.

If your kitty has bad snarls, you may need to clip them out with blunt-end scissors. Be very careful not to cut your furry pal’s skin!

If your cat often gets mats or tangles, you may need to brush her more frequently or take her to a groomer. Ask your Watertown, WI vet for recommendations.

Is It A Good Idea To Cut My Senior Cat’s Claws?

Declawing has for the most part declined in popularity. Instead, many people are opting to just clip their pets’ nails, which is painless and temporary.  

That said, it is not a good idea to clip your cat’s nails if you plan on letting her outside. Fluffy’s claws are the only defense she has! (Note: We actually recommend that older cats remain indoors at all times, for safety purposes.)

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that clipping your cat’s nails may throw her off if she isn’t used to it. Fluffy could hurt herself if she jumps on the couch and doesn’t realize she won’t stick. Set out pet ramps and stairs to help her reach her favorite perches.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Groom My Older Cat?

Generally, any time that your cute pet is awake will work, though we wouldn’t advise trying to brush your feline buddy if she has the zoomies. Fluffy will probably let you know when she’s had enough by simply walking away. Don’t force her to submit further than this. As mentioned above, that will just make your furry little diva wary of being groomed. (It’s also a good way to get scratched.) 

In Addition To Brushing My Senior Cat, What Else Should I Do?

Kitty beauty care needs vary a little from cat to cat. Fluffy may need her eyes or ears cleaned regularly. If she has long hair, you may need to trim the fur around her bottom. Dental care is also important. Consult your vet for specific recommendations.

We also recommend using the time wisely. Check your pet’s body condition, and keep an eye out for things like bumps, bruises, swelling, or sore spots. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these.

Do you have questions about caring for a senior cat? Contact us, your Watertown, WI local pet hospital, anytime. We are dedicated to offering great care!