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Click here for some handy Pet Guides..... How to choose a Kitten | How to Groom a Cat | How to give a Cat a Tablet | How to Give a Dog a Tablet | How to Groom a Dog | Dog Grooming Tips | How to Prevent Fleas | Feeding Advice for Older Dogs

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Grooming

Grooming not only improves your animal's appearance, it improves its health too:

it gives you the chance to check for any lumps, bumps or parasites
preventing the build-up of matts and tangles is essential to keep your cat's skin in good condition
daily brushing is also a useful training and bonding experience
How often?Grooming should be done on a daily basis, if possible. If you leave long-coated animals ungroomed then tangles, and eventually matts, will develop in their coats. These are painful and time consuming to remove. Grooming will become an unpleasant chore for you and a time of anxiety for your pet. It is much more sensible to spend a few minutes each day in a session that both you and your pet will find relaxing and rewarding. In terms of short-coated animals, daily grooming will greatly reduce the amount of hair shed all over your house.

EquipmentYou don't need a lot of fancy equipment to keep your cat looking good. You should have a slicker brush and a flea comb. Long-haired cats also need a wide-toothed comb to pick apart tangles. Most good pet stores will stock all this equipment.

Getting your cat used to groomingIt is always easier to start with a younger animal. Kittens should be handled thoroughly from a young age and should get used to the feel of a brush and a comb.

An older pet can take longer to get used to grooming, so start small and build up slowly. Brush a less sensitive area (avoid the tail, face and feet) while praising and rewarding the cat. Food treats can be very helpful.

Your animal will need to be restrained, but try to do it gently. Docile cats can be held on your lap. Some cats can be held between your knees as you kneel on the ground. Gradually work on the coat for longer and longer periods. Do not introduce the comb until your pet is completely comfortable with the brush. In severe cases, it may be best to take your animal to a groomer or vet to have the coat stripped off. Then you can begin fresh with no horrid matts to worry about.

Brushing In long-coated cats, it is essential to brush out all layers of the coat. This requires you to lift the coat and brush down each section until you get to the top layer. Too often people make a lovely job of the topcoat but leave the undercoat a tightly matted mess. It is removing the matts next to the skin that is most important in terms of the health of your animal's skin.

If you come across a matt, use the wide-toothed comb held at a perpendicular angle to the matt and gently pick apart the matt. It is sometimes possible to do this with just your fingers.

Do not be tempted to cut out the matt with scissors. This is very dangerous as you could cut your pet, resulting in a visit to the vet for stitches. Aside from the risk, cutting out matts usually makes the grooming situation worse. It is nearly impossible to get all the way under the matt with scissors so you end up removing only a section of the matt, leaving the most tightly wound part, next to the skin, intact. This will rapidly develop into another big tangled mess.

If you find that your pet has several matts bound very close to the skin, it is probably kindest to get the animal shaved at a vet's or groomer's. Pulling out very tight matts is painful and will cause the animal a great deal of distress. As an owner, you are most likely to get bitten at a time like this as pain and fear will make even the best trained animal react in self-defence.

Bathing Most cats do not need to be bathed unless they are being shown or have been contaminated (for example, with grease) or have a severe flea infestation. In the latter two cases, it may be better to have the cat bathed at a vet's. If you are bathing a cat, it is important to use cat shampoo, not dog shampoo, as some shampoos include an insecticide and cats and dogs require different strengths of insecticides. A cat can become ill if dosed with a dog shampoo.

If you desperately need to clean up a particularly smelly mess, cornstarch or baby powder can be sprinkled on the animal's coat. The powder will absorb urine or other offending substances and can then be brushed out. Sticky items, such as chewing gum or tree sap can be removed with butter - a far safer and easier way than trying to cut them out. Grease can be washed out with Swarfega or a mild washing-up liquid - but do rinse intensely, as these are harsh cleansers.

Nails Cats can have their claws trimmed now and again, but active cats generally keep their claws at a reasonable length anyway. Cat nail-clippers can be purchased from a pet store and are much easier to use than ordinary nail-clippers.

EarsYour pet's ears should be checked weekly and most cats benefit from a quick wash. Use a dedicated cat ear cleaner and wipe the ear clean with cotton wool. Do not use cotton buds as these only push the wax and debris further down inside the ear canal.

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