Grooming Your Elderly Cat

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Older cats may be less supple than when younger and may require more help with grooming. Brushing a cat can be very relaxing and is usually enjoyable to both the cat and the owner. Daily grooming ensures quality time set aside exclusively for your cat which may otherwise be forgotten if you have a busy schedule. Extremely old cats may pay little attention to their hygiene, but they will appreciate it if you help keep them clean, and comfortable. If you have two companionable cats they may help to groom each other.

Brushing removes dead hair from the coat and helps prevent matted fur and also prevent furballs since the cat will swallow less hair when it grooms itself. A fine-toothed comb will help remove parasites from the skin. The area under the tail may sometimes need a gentle wipe with a damp tissue or a pet wipe. Not many cats like having their belly combed and there is no need to press the point unless the belly fur becomes matted. As well as keeping the coat in good condition, grooming helps to establish a strong bond between cats and between the cat and the owner.

If a cat does not groom itself, its coat quickly develops mats. Cats that lack teeth may have problems preventing mats since they need teeth to help “comb out” mats. Daily brushing will prevent shaving or clipping later on. Mats are commonest on the flanks, inside thighs, under the “armpits” and in the ruff (of longhairs). Mats containing cat litter or feces can form under the tail or on the back legs.

Longhaired elderly cats may become messy around the backside; they simply cannot do the necessary contortions to groom this area. Because many cats don’t like being combed in this area, some owners trim the fur under the tail (britches) to stop feces, cat litter, and mud from sticking to it. Cats rarely need to be bathed, but if your cat does become very dirty a bath may be necessary. Most cat care books will tell you how to do this. Only use a specialist cat/kitten shampoo which must be rinsed off thoroughly. Dry the cat off in a warm room and make sure it is completely dry before allowing it outdoors.