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How To Groom A Senior Cat 

January 15, 2024

One of the many wonderful things about our feline buddies is the fact that they are very clean. Fluffy may spend up to a third of her waking time cleaning her fur! As your cat ages, you may notice that she isn’t taking as much time for her beauty regime as she used to. You may need to give her a helping hand. In this article from your Carroll, IA & Jefferson area veterinary clinic, a local Carroll, IA vet offers some tips on grooming senior cats.

What Are the Benefits of Grooming Senior Cats?

Have you ever noticed that senior cats tend to look a bit disheveled? It’s natural for Fluffy to lose some of her strength and flexibility as she ages. This will make it more difficult for her to bend and stretch enough to reach her whole body.

Obesity is another option. Those extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for many reasons, but they can also interfere with grooming. If your cat is too big, she will have a hard time reaching her whole body.

A second factor is increased oiliness. Fluffy’s coat can look greasy as she ages. That’s because her body chemistry changes over time. Older cats’ skin sometimes produces more oil than younger kitties’ does. That oiliness also makes mats and tangles more likely, even in cats with short fur.

It’s important to note that oiliness can be a sign of health problems, such as diabetes or thyroid issues. Consult your Carroll, IA veterinarian for more information.

What Is The Best Way To Get Tangles Out Of My Cat’s Fur?

It will be hard to get a thick mat out by combing. Keep in mind that older cats have very delicate skin, which is easily torn or ripped. You’ll need to be careful not to pull too hard.

Cats with long hair may benefit from a special brush designed to remove mats and knots.

Use blunt-end scissors to clip out bad snarls. Be careful not to cut your cat’s skin!

You may need to start brushing your cat more often if she often gets mats or tangles. Or, you may find it easier to take her to the salon.

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

Declawing has lost popularity as more and more people understand that it is much more complicated than they once thought. Many people, however, trim their kitty’s claws. A ‘pawdicure’ is painless and temporary, so it’s not the most crucial decision you’ll make for your cat. However, you will need to keep a few things in mind.

If you let your cat outside, do not clip her nails. Those little claws are your pet’s only defense! (Note: we always recommend keeping kitties inside anyway, for safety reasons. This goes double for seniors.)

It’s also possible that Fluffy could hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch and doesn’t realize she won’t stick to it. If your cat likes to climb to higher spots, offer her pet ramps or stairs. You can also gently give her a lift if you see her about to get off or on something.

Besides Brushing My Senior Cat, What Else Should I Do?

It may be necessary to clean Fluffy’s eyes or ears regularly. If your furry pal has long hair, you may also have to trim the fur around her bottom to remove dirt or stuck pieces of litter. Use only round end scissors, and be very careful not to accidentally cut your furry pal. Dental care is also important. Ask your vet for specific advice.

It’s also important to know that, while older cats are sometimes a bit unkempt, a serious and/or sudden decline of your pet’s coat condition could be a sign of medical issues. Contact your veterinary clinic right away if you notice anything like that.

How Much Grooming Do Older Cats Need?

This will vary a bit from kitty to kitty. Cats with long hair need extra attention, because they are more prone to getting tangled. However, kitties with short fur still benefit from getting all that dust and dander out of their coats.

A short-haired furball may only need to be brushed once or twice a week. Cats with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Ask your Carroll, IA vet for specific advice.

Do I Need To Bathe My Senior Cat?

Generally, Fluffy doesn’t need to be bathed. Of course, if she gets something spilled on her fur, she might need one. You can also bathe her if you want to, as long as your vet is okay with it.

The same rules apply to bathing an older cat as they do for any other feline. Make sure the water is not too hot or too deep. In addition, you should use products specifically designed for cats instead of human soaps and shampoos. Our products are too strong for pets, and could leave your cat’s coat dry and even frizzy.

There are a few other things to keep in mind with older cats. Senior pets are often very sensitive to weather changes. Your kitty could get chilly as her fur is drying. You don’t want that! Make sure that your furry friend stays warm while she is drying off. You can blow dry Fluffy, using a low setting, if she doesn’t mind, but don’t force it.

The big thing is to make your pet enjoy being groomed. She may even look forward to her beauty sessions if she associates brushing with being pampered.  

Of course, if your cat does not enjoy being brushed, she will struggle, making the process not only less enjoyable for you both, but it will also make it harder next time around.

Make sure you wait until your cat is relaxed and cuddly. If your pet loves to curl up on your lap at night, this is a purrfect time.

Pet her gently in the direction of her fur. Start with just your hand and then slowly incorporate the brush.

Work in some cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. You can even offer treats or catnip!

Don’t be surprised if your furry friend starts her engine. Many cats love being pampered. (Actually, Fluffy enjoys being waited on hand and foot (or front and back paw) but that’s another topic.)

How Long Should Kitty Grooming Sessions Last?

We’ll leave this one up to Fluffy. When your cat is done with something, she will probably let you know by just walking away. Do not force her to do anything beyond this. An unhappy cat is difficult to brush or bathe, as some of you have probably learned. Forcing things is a good way to get scratched! Also, when you try to groom her again, she may retreat under the bed and give you that death stare that kitties are so famous for.

There’s another issue here as well. If your feline friend is struggling, this increases the risk of her falling or slipping.

If your pet gets something spilled on her fur, or if she is very soiled or matted, call your vet or a professional groomer.

Do you have any questions about caring for a senior cat? Contact us here at Carroll Small Animal Clinic, your Carroll, IA & Jefferson area, pet hospital. We’re here to help!