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Grooming A Senior Cat

January 15, 2024

Should I Bathe A Senior Cat?

One of the many wonderful things about our feline pals is the fact that they are naturally very clean. Your kitty will groom herself every day, and may spend as much as a third of her waking time cleaning her fur and keeping it soft and shiny. However, as Fluffy ages, you may notice that she isn’t taking as much time for her beauty regime as she used to. Your furry friend may actually need some help caring for her fur at this stage in her life. A local Newburgh, NY veterinarian offers some advice on grooming a senior cat in this article.

You shouldn’t have to bathe Fluffy, unless of course, if she were to get something spilled on her fur. However, you can if you want to, as long as your vet doesn’t object.

Follow the same rules as you would for any other feline. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. It also shouldn’t be very deep. Ideally, you’d want lukewarm water, and it should not be any higher than your kitty’s chest. 

Only use products made specifically for cats. Human soaps and shampoos often are too harsh for our feline pals. These could strip the oils from your kitty’s fur, leaving her coat dry and even frizzy. 

Is It Dangerous To Bathe A Senior Cat?

Generally, bathing Fluffy should be safe, as long as you’re doing it properly. However, Fluffy will be quite sensitive to weather changes and could get chilly while she’s wet. if it’s chilly out, turn up the heater a bit and make sure she can stay warm as she is drying off. You can blow dry her, using a low setting, if she doesn’t mind. 

The other thing to be aware of is the fact that older cats are just weaker and frailer than kittens. If your pet doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy cat is no easy feat! Fluffy could accidentally slip and fall, and would be more vulnerable to injuries if she landed badly.

Why Do Senior Cats Need Help With Grooming?

Have you ever noticed that older cats sometimes look a bit disheveled? There’s a reason for that. As your feline pal grows older, she’ll naturally lose strength and flexibility. This will make it harder for her to bend and stretch. As a result, she may begin to have difficulty reaching her entire body to clean herself.

That isn’t the only possible reason. Many cats get a bit chubby in their golden years. (Extra pounds are bad for cats for many reasons, but we’ll stick to grooming in this blog.) If your furball has become a butterball, she’ll have a hard time cleaning her fur. 

Another factor is increased oiliness. Older cats’ skin sometimes produces more oil than their younger counterparts. That can make your kitty’s coat look greasy. It also makes mats and tangles more likely, even in shorthaired cats. 

Certain medical issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, can exacerbate this problem. Ask your Newburgh, NY vet for more information. 

How Frequently Should I Groom A Senior Cat?

This will depend on the type of coat Fluffy has, and how thick it is. Longhaired cats need more attention than those who are sporting short hair cuts, because they’re more prone to getting tangles, which are quite uncomfortable. Cats with short fur still benefit from getting all that dust and dander out of their coats, though.

A kitty with short hair may only need to be brushed once or twice a week, while longhaired cats may need to be brushed several times a week. Ask your Newburgh, NY vet for specific recommendations.

How Do I Brush An Older Cat?

The big thing is to make your pet form a positive association with being groomed. if Fluffy equates being brushed to being pampered, she may even look forward to her beauty sessions! (Who doesn’t like a good spa session?) 

Of course, if your kitty doesn’t enjoy being brushed, she may struggle, which will make the process less pleasant for you both and will also make it harder next time around.

Wait until your kitty feels relaxed and cuddly. Then, start by gently petting her. Move in the direction of her fur. Start with just your hand, and then slowly incorporate the brush.

Brush gently, moving in the direction of your kitty’s fur. Be very gentle! Work in cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. Don’t be surprised if your feline pal starts her engine. Many kitties love being pampered! 

How Can I Get Knots Out Of My Cat’s Coat?

If your cat has long hair, you may want to get a special detangling brush. These should do the trick with smaller knots. However, mats that have gotten ‘established’ are a different story. You’re not likely to get a thick mat out by combing. 

Be careful not to force it! Older cats have very delicate skin, which can rip or tear easily.

For bad snarls, you may need to clip them out. Use blunt-end scissors, and be careful not to cut your pet’s skin.

If your furry friend often gets mats or tangles, you may find it best to take your cat to a groomer.

How Long Should I Brush My Cat?

Fluffy will let you know when she’s had enough, most likely by just walking away. Don’t force her to submit beyond this. As some of you may have learned, it can be very difficult to brush or bathe an unhappy cat. This can actually be dangerous, as it increases the risk of your kitty slipping or falling. Plus, the next time you try to groom your furball, she may retreat under the bed and give you that death stare kitties do so well. 

What Else Should I Do Beside Brushing My Senior Cat?

Brushing will be the bulk of your job here, but you may need to do a few other things. For instance, Fluffy may need her eyes or ears cleaned regularly. If she has long hair, you may also need to gently trim the fur around her bottom. Dental care is also important. Ask your Newburgh, NY veterinary clinic for specific advice! 

Should I Trim My Cat’s Claws?

Declawing has for the most part fallen out of favor, as more and more people have realized that the surgery is much more involved than what was once commonly assumed. Cutting your pet’s claws may be a better option. This is painless and temporary, so it’s not the most critical decision you’ll make for Fluffy. There are a few things to keep in mind here, though. 

Don’t clip your furry friend’s nails if you plan to let her outdoors. Those little claws are Fluffy’s only defense! (Note: we always recommend keeping cats inside anyway, for safety reasons. This goes double for seniors.)

You may also want to get pet ramps. If Fluffy likes to climb to higher spots, clipping her nails may throw her off. Fluffy could hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch, and doesn’t realize that she won’t stick.

Do you have questions about caring for a senior cat? Contact us, your local Newburgh, NY pet hospital, today!