As cats age, it's important to give them extra grooming care. Our veterinarians at New Iberia explain why senior cats' fur can become tangled and offer safe grooming tips to help.
Should I Groom My Senior Cat?
As cats grow older, they may face difficulties in grooming themselves, especially if they have arthritis. As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to ensure that your senior cat's coat is well-maintained as an unkempt coat can lead to matting, which can be quite painful for them. Senior cats with less excess muscle or fat are more susceptible to painful matting.
Their skin also loses elasticity as they age, making it more uncomfortable for them. This can increase their vulnerability to injuries such as tearing and bruising. To avoid needless pain and discomfort for your senior cat, it's best to be proactive with their grooming. It also makes the task more manageable and enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.
Why Do Older Cats Get Matted Fur?
If you notice your senior cat not grooming themselves as frequently as they used to and their fur becoming matted, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Cats that do not groom themselves sufficiently can be a sign of an underlying medical problem that must be addressed as soon as possible. It's not always easy to tell if your cat is in pain because they are very good at hiding it.
Some reasons why your senior cat might not be grooming themselves as often or as efficiently include:
- Dental problems
- Osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease
- Increased skin oil production
Geriatric cats are more likely to develop the conditions listed above. If you notice that your senior cat's fur is becoming more matted or that they aren't grooming themselves as well as they used to, contact your veterinarian, who will be able to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
How To Brush Your Senior Cat
As we said above it's very important to keep your senior cats' fur well-groomed to keep their fur from matting. Below are tips on how you can brush your senior cat's fur:
- Brush your cat in a place where they will be comfortable such as on a soft mat.
- Start by petting your cat from head to tail, looking for any problem areas that are sensitive for them.
- Brush them in the same pattern using different brushes, such as a rubber brush to collect loose fur, a pin brush to detangle fur (especially if your cat has long fur), and a metal comb to help brush through mats.
- First, brush your cat with the rubber brush and work your way to the metal comb.
- If you find mats on your cat's fur, DO NOT attempt to cut, pull, or yank them because you may injure your cat. Instead, try gently loosening the mat with your fingers or applying a small amount of corn starch to the mat and brushing it through. If brushing out the mats on your own is too difficult, take your cat to a professional groomer.
- Pay extra attention when brushing around your cat's hips, underbelly, and hind legs because these areas can be sensitive for older cats.
- If you notice any lumps, bumps, or sensitive to touch spots on your cat's limbs or joints call your vet so they can give your kitty a checkup.
- Give your feline friend lots of calming praise and some treats during the process. You can also help distract your cat by giving them some of their favorite food to munch on.
The ideal frequency for brushing your cat depends on their unique fur type. Long-haired cats may require daily brushing, while senior cats with shorter hair may benefit from weekly brushing. Consistent brushing makes the process easier. Consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on the appropriate brushes and equipment to use, as well as the ideal frequency for brushing your cat.
How To Clean Your Older Cats Fur
When it comes to bathing cats, it's commonly known that they don't particularly enjoy water. As a result, they may hiss, struggle, or attempt to escape during the process. To ensure a successful bath, it's essential to remain calm and speak to your cat in a comforting, reassuring tone. Additionally, keeping the door closed can prevent them from running away.
If you have a senior cat, here are some tips for bathing them:
- Fill a large plastic bin or your bathtub with enough warm (not hot) water to cover their underbelly.
- Make sure you brush your cat first and that they are free of any mats or tangles.
- Gently place your furry friend into the tub, reassuring your cat by giving them praise and petting them.
- Carefully wet your cat's fur with a cup full of water or a wet cloth. Keep your cat's head and face dry to prevent any irritation to their eyes, ears, and nose.
- Lather your kitty in a special cat shampoo (do not use human shampoo) avoiding the head and face.
- Using a cup or a detachable showerhead rinse the soap off of your cat. To prevent any irritation make sure all of the soap is rinsed off (this could take several rinses).
- Wrap your cat in a clean, dry towel and pat them dry. Don't use a hairdryer because it can burn their sensitive skin.
- Until your cat is completely dry keep them in a warm area.
Your primary care veterinarian will be able to advise you on how frequently you should bathe your senior cat. However, as a general rule, long-haired cats should be bathed once a month to keep them clean; short-haired cats or senior kitties should only be bathed when they are dirty or smell bad to protect them from infection.
Pet Bathing & Pet Grooming Service at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital
Are you aware that our All Creatures Veterinary Hospital office located in New Iberia provides grooming services? We cater to all breeds of cats and dogs, and offer professional pet grooming and bathing to assist you in maintaining your furry companion's best appearance.