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Tips For Grooming An Older Cat
January 15, 2024

One reason that kitties make such great pets is that they are naturally very clean. Your feline buddy will diligently groom her pretty coat daily to keep it soft and clean. In fact, Fluffy may spend up to a third of the time she’s actually awake on her beauty regime! However, as your furry friend ages, you may notice her fur beginning to look unkempt. That’s not uncommon in older kitties. Your feline may need some help as she approaches the last of her nine lives. A local Saginaw, MI veterinarian offers some advice on grooming an aging kitty in this article.

Should I Give An Older Kitty A Bath?

For the most part, you won’t need to bathe your cat, though you can if you want to. However, you’ll need to take some precautions. 

First and foremost, make sure the water isn’t too hot. Fluffy has very sensitive skin and can get scalded at temperatures that are comfortable for us. Only use lukewarm water. You also don’t want to make the water too deep. If bathing your furry friend in a tub or sink, don’t fill it any higher than her belly.

Next, only use products made specifically for Fluffy. Human soaps and shampoos are just too harsh for cats. Things made for people can strip the oils from your cute pet’s fur, leaving her coat dry and even frizzy.

Your feline pal will be quite sensitive to weather changes and may get chilly while she’s wet. If your cat doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her using a low setting, but don’t force her to submit. Just make sure Fluffy isn’t left wet and cold.

Finally, remember that aging kitties can be quite weak and frail, even if they still act like kittens. If Fluffy doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy furball is no easy feat! It’s also a bit risky. Your feline pal may accidentally slip. At her age, your pet will be more prone to getting injured from a fall than a younger cat would.

Tips For Brushing A Senior Cat

Many cats actually enjoy being groomed. Your feline buddy may even start to look forward to those beauty sessions! The key is to make your pet equate being brushed to being pampered.

Here are some tips:

  • Wait until Fluffy feels relaxed and cuddly. If your furry friend likes to curl up on your lap at night, that would be a good time.
  • Start by gently brushing your furry, moving in the direction of her fur. Slowly incorporate the brush.
  • Be very gentle!
  • Keep that motor going! Incorporate cuddles and sweet talk to relax your pet and get that motor going.

Why Do Senior Cats’ Fur Look Messy?

Have you ever noticed that cats in their golden years sometimes look unkempt? There’s actually a reason for that. As your feline buddy ages, she’ll naturally lose strength and flexibility. That makes it harder for her to bend and stretch enough to reach her entire body. 

Obesity also plays a role here. Many of our pals get somewhat chubby in their golden years. (Extra pounds are bad for your furry pal for many reasons, but we’ll stick to grooming in this blog.) Being overweight also makes it tough for cats to groom themselves. 

Increased oiliness is another factor. As your kitty grows older, her body chemistry will change somewhat. Older cats’ skin often naturally produces more oil than younger cats’. This can make them somewhat greasy. It also makes mats and tangles more likely, even in kitties with short fur.

Your furball’s health also comes into play here. Certain health issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, can exacerbate this problem. Ask your veterinarians for more information.

How Frequently Should I Groom an Older Kitty?

 Your furry friend will probably let you know when she’s had enough. Fluffy may just walk away, though spicy kitties may choose to make their point by lightly biting or scratching. 

When Fluffy decides that she’s had enough, just let her go. Don’t force her to submit beyond this. For one thing, that’s a great way to get scratched. You also probably won’t have much luck forcing her to stay still. Plus, the next time you try to groom her, your feline little buddy may just retreat under the bed to glare at you.

How Do I Remove Mats From an Older Kitty’s Fur?

Does your feline pal have knots? If so, you may want to get a special detangling brush. However, these work best on small and/or just-forming tangles. Mats that have gotten ‘established’ are a different story. You’re not likely to get a tough knot out by combing or brushing. In fact, this can be dangerous. Older kitties often have very delicate skin, which can rip easily. 

For bad snarls, you may need to clip them out. Always use blunt-end scissors, and be careful not to cut your kitty’s skin. If your feline buddy frequently gets mats or tangles, you may find it best to take Fluffy to a groomer, as they will have the tools, setup, and experience necessary to give your furry little overlord a proper glow-up.

How Frequently Should I Groom My Aging Kitty?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this: your cute pet’s grooming needs will depend on the type of fur she has and how thick it is. Longhaired cats of course need the most attention, but

even kitties with short haircuts can get mats.

In general, short-haired furballs may only need to be brushed once or twice a week, while those with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Your vet can give you specific advice.

What Else Should I Do Beside Brushing My Older Kitty?

Some kitties need their eyes or ears cleaned regularly. If Fluffy has long hair, you may also need to gently trim the fur around her bottom to help keep it clean. 

Dental issues are very prevalent in senior kitties. Brushing your feline pal’s choppers clean is the best way to clean them. Start slowly by just gently touching your feline’s teeth. Slowly incorporate the brush. No luck? You can also try various kitty dental products, such as oral flakes or rinses. These can also be helpful! 

That said, the exact recommendations will vary a bit from cat to cat, so ask your Saginaw, MI vet for specific advice.

Should I Cut My Older Kitty’s Claws?

Declawing has largely fallen out of public favor as more people opt for the painless and temporary solution of just clipping their cats’ claws. You can absolutely give your furry little buddy a pawdicure. Just don’t clip Fluffy’s nails if you plan to let her go outdoors. Those nails are your furballs’s only real defense! We always recommend keeping aging kitties inside for safety reasons, so think carefully about this. 

There’s also another safety issue to consider: your cat may hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch and doesn’t realize that she won’t stick like she used to. You may need to get pet ramps or stairs. Ask your Saginaw, MI vet for recommendations on this.

Last but not least, it’s important to make the best of this time. As you are grooming your pet, gently inspect her body condition and watch for things like swelling, lumps, bumps, or skin issues. Contact your animal hospital right away if you spot anything amiss.

Do you have questions about grooming an older kitty? We are here to help! Contact us, your local pet hospital, today!

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