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Senior Cat Grooming Needs

January 15, 2024

One of the many wonderful things about cats is that they are quite clean. Fluffy will groom herself daily, and may spend as much as a third of her waking hours keeping her coat soft, shiny, and free of tangles. You may notice that as your pet ages, she doesn’t take as much time to maintain her beauty standards as she once did. She may even need some assistance at this stage. In this article, a local Markham, ON vet provides some advice on grooming senior cats.

How Often Should I Brush A Senior Cat?

This ultimately depends on Fluffy’s coat. Shorthaired kitties may only need to be brushed once or twice a week. Cats with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Fluffy cats need more attention, since they can get tangled quite easily. Cats with short fur still benefit from removing dust and dander from their coats, though. Ask your Markham, ON vet for information.

Should I Bathe My Senior Cat?

Most of the time, you don’t need to bathe Fluffy. However, if something spills on her fur, you’ll need to wash her. You can also bathe her if you choose to, as long as your vet doesn’t object.

Here are a few tips on bathing an older kitty:

  • Make sure the water isn’t too hot. Kitties have very sensitive skin, and can get scalded at temperatures that are comfortable for us. Use lukewarm water. 
  • You also don’t want to make the water too deep. If you’re bathing Fluffy in a tub or sink, don’t fill it any higher than your furball’s belly. 
  • only use products made specifically for cats. Human soaps and shampoos are just too harsh for our feline pals. They can strip the oils from Fluffy’s hair, leaving her coat dry and even frizzy. 
  • Fluffy will be quite sensitive to weather changes and could get chilly while she’s wet. if she doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her, using a low setting. Just make sure she isn’t wet and cold.

It is also important to note that older cats are just weaker and frailer than kittens. If your pet does not enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging on to a wet, unhappy cat can be difficult! This can actually be dangerous, as if your pet struggles to get away, she may slip and fall, and could suffer injuries if she lands on a hard floor. (It’s also a good way to get scratched.)

Do Senior Cats Like Being Brushed? 

Some do! If Fluffy associates grooming with being pampered, she may even look forward to her beauty sessions. Who doesn’t like a great spa session? Of course, if your kitty doesn’t enjoy being brushed, she may struggle, which will not only make the process less pleasant for you both, but will make it harder the next time. 

It is a good idea to wait until your kitty feels relaxed and cuddly. If your pet likes to curl up on your lap at night, this is the purrfect time! Gently pet your furry pal. At first, just use your hand. Then, slowly incorporate the brush. Always move in the direction of her coat. Work in some ear scritches, cuddles, and sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. 

Don’t be surprised if your feline friend starts her engine! Many cats love to be pampered.

In Addition To Brushing My Senior Cat, What Else Should I Do?

This also depends on the cat. Some of our feline friends need their eyes or ears cleaned regularly. If your pet has long hair, you may also need to gently trim the hair around her bottom to help keep it clean. This will vary from cat to cat.

Dental issues are very prevalent in senior kitties. The best way to keep your furry buddy’s choppers clean is to brush them. Start slowly, by just gently touching your kitty’s teeth as you pet her. Slowly incorporate the brush. No luck? You can also try other feline dental products, such as oral flakes or rinses. These can also be helpful at removing plaque and tartar. 

Ask your Markham, ON veterinarian for specific advice. 

How Can I  Remove Tangles From My Senior Cat’s coat?

Longhaired cats are often prone to getting tangled in their senior years. You may want to invest in a special detangling brush. These brushes are designed to remove mats. They often work great with smaller knots. However, thick snarls are a different story. The problem with ‘established’ mats is that you probably won’t be able to remove them by combing. In fact, you should be very careful not to force the mat out. Older cats have very delicate skin that can even tear or rip.

You may need to clip bad snarls out with blunt-end scissors. Just be careful not to cut your feline buddy!

Your vet may recommend brushing your cat more often or taking her to a groomer if she often gets mats or tangles.

Should I Cut My Senior Cat’s Claws?

Many people have realized that declawing isn’t as simple or painless as was once thought, and so it has fallen out of favor. It’s actually illegal in some places now. Many people instead are choosing to trim their cat’s claws, which is painless and temporary. Your vet will be able to advise you on this. However, if you plan to let your cat outside, don’t clip her nails. Those little claws are Fluffy’s only defense! 

Another thing to consider is the fact that Fluffy may hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch, not realizing that she won’t stick, especially if she isn’t used to it. Provide pet ramps or steps after you clip her nails.

How Long Should I Brush My Cat?

That’s really up to your kitty! Fluffy will let you know when she’s had enough, most likely by just walking away. Don’t force her beyond this. 

It’s hard to brush or bathe an unhappy cat. Plus, your pet may retreat under the bed the next time you try to groom her, giving you that death stare kitties are famous for. 

Fluffy’s Changing Beauty Care Needs

It is a fairly common occurrence for older cats to appear a bit disheveled. As your cat gets older, she’ll naturally lose some strength and flexibility, which will make it harder for her to bend and stretch as she ages. Her entire body may become difficult to reach as a result. Obesity will only exacerbate the issue. (We’ll stick to grooming in this blog, but extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for many reasons.) 

Increasing oiliness is another factor. As your feline buddy ages, her body chemistry will change a bit. Older cats’ skin will naturally produce more oils than younger cats’. Certain medical problems, like diabetes, can also make this problem worse. That extra oil can make Fluffy’s coat a bit greasy. Moreover, it increases the chances of mats and tangles, even for kitties with short coat.

Ask your Markham, ON veterinarian for more information.

If you have questions about caring for a senior cat, contact your us here at your local Markham, ON pet hospital. We are dedicated to offering purrfect care! 

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