Grooming An Aging Kitty 

There are many things to love about our feline pals. One of the best things about these cute furballs is their cleanliness. Your feline friend will groom herself daily, and may spend as much as a third of her waking time cleaning her fur and keeping it soft, shiny, and free of tangles. However, as your furry friend ages, you may notice that she isn’t taking as much time for her beauty regime as she once did. Fluffy may need some help at this stage in her life. In this article, a local Greenbrae, CA vet offers some advice on grooming an aging kitty.

How Often Should I Groom My Aging Kitty?

This will depend on the type of fur your kitty has, and how thick it is. Longhaired kitties need more attention here, because they can get tangled, which is quite uncomfortable. Cats with short fur still benefit from getting dust and dander out of their coats, though.

If Fluffy has short fur, she may only need to be brushed once or twice a week, just depending on how her coat looks. Cats with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Should I Bathe A Senior Cat?

For the most part, you don’t have to bathe Fluffy, unless she were to get something spilled on her. (Note: if your kitty gets anything thick or potentially toxic on her, contact your vet right away.) 

The same rules apply to bathing an older kitty as they would for any other feline. You’ll need to make sure the water is not too hot or too deep. Ideally, you’d want lukewarm water, which should not be any higher than your feline pal’s chest. Only use products made specifically for kitties. Human soaps and shampoos are just too harsh for our feline pals’ coats. These could strip the oils from your kitty’s fur, leaving her looking dry and even frizzy. 

Something to note: Fluffy will be quite sensitive to weather changes, and could get chilly while she’s wet. You can blow dry her, using a low setting, if she doesn’t mind. However, if it’s chilly out, turn up the heater a bit to keep her warm as she is drying off.

Also, keep in mind that senior kitties are quite fragile. If Fluffy doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy kitty is no easy feat! Your kitty could accidentally slip, and would be vulnerable to injuries if she fell.

Why Do Aging Cats Need Grooming?

Have you ever noticed that senior kitties sometimes look disheveled? As Fluffy ages, she’ll naturally lose strength and flexibility. This will make it harder for her to bend and stretch, so she may have difficulty reaching her entire body.

That isn’t the only possible reason. Many of our feline pals get chubby in their golden years. (Extra weight is bad for Fluffy for many reasons, but we’ll stick to grooming in this blog.) If your furball is too big, she’ll have a hard time reaching her whole body. 

Another factor is increased oiliness. As your kitty ages, her body chemistry will change a bit. Senior cats’ skin sometimes produces more oil than their younger counterparts. That can make Fluffy’s coat look greasy. It also makes mats and tangles more likely, even in kitties with short hair. Obesity can also be a factor with this. Certain medical issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, can exacerbate this problem. Ask your Greenbrae, CA vet for more information. 

How Do I Get Tangles Out Of My Kitty’s Fur?

If your furry friend pal has long hair, you may need a special detangling brush. These are designed to get mats out, and will often do the trick with smaller knots.

Mats that have gotten ‘established’ are a different story. You probably won’t get a thick mat out by combing. It’s also important not to force it. Senior cats have very delicate skin, which can rip or tear easily. You may need to clip snarls out. Use blunt-end scissors, and be careful not to cut your furball’s skin.

If Fluffy often gets mats or tangles, ask your vet for advice. You may need to start brushing her more often. Or, you may find it best to take your kitty to a groomer.

Should I Cut My Cat’s Claws?

Declawing has for the most part fallen out of favor. However, many people do choose to trim their kitty’s claws. This is painless and temporary, so choosing whether to do this or not isn’t going to be the most critical decision you’ll make for Fluffy. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. First, you should never clip your kitty’s nails if you plan to let her outdoors. Those little claws are Fluffy’s only defense! (Of course, we always recommend keeping senior cats in.

If your furball likes to climb to higher spots, clipping her nails may throw her off. Your furry pal could hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch, and doesn’t realize that she won’t stick.

How Do I Brush An Older Cat?

The same rules apply to all of our feline overlords here. The big thing is to make Fluffy form a positive association with being groomed. Your furry pal may even look forward to her beauty sessions if she associates being brushed with being pampered. (Who doesn’t like a good spa session?) 

Of course, if your feline pal doesn’t enjoy being brushed, she may struggle. That will make the process not only less pleasant for you both, it will also make it harder next time around.

Wait until your furball feels relaxed and cuddly. Evenings would be a good time if your kitty likes to curl up on your lap as you are relaxing at night. Then, start by gently petting her. Move in the direction of her hair. Start with just your hand, and then slowly incorporate the brush. Be very gentle! You may want to work in cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. Don’t be surprised if Fluffy starts her engine. Many cats love being pampered! 

What Else Should I Do Beside Brushing My Older Cat?

Some kitties need more attention than others. Your furry friend 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 Greenbrae, CA vet for specific advice! 

 How Long Should I Groom My Cat?

We’ll leave this one up to Fluffy! Your feline companion will probably let you know when she’s had enough, most likely by just walking away. Don’t force her to submit beyond this. It’s very difficult to brush or bathe an unhappy kitty. This can actually be dangerous, as it increases the risk of your kitty slipping or falling. Plus, the next time you try to groom her, she may retreat under the bed and give you that death stare kitties do so well. 

Do you have questions about caring for an aging kitty? Contact us here at Redwood Pet Clinic, your local Greenbrae, CA pet hospital, today! 




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