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Senior Cat Grooming

October 1, 2023

Cats are known for being fastidiously clean. Fluffy will take time out of her busy napping schedule every day to keep her coat soft, clean, and shiny. However, that will get progressively harder as she gets older. Senior kitties often tend to be stiff and sore, and sometimes can’t bend and stretch enough to reach their entire bodies. At that point, your furry friend will need a bit of help with her beauty regimen. Here, a Yorkville, IL vet offers some advice on keeping an older kitty clean.

Brush Regularly

The best thing you can do for your feline pal is brush her regularly. This isn’t just important for aesthetics. If Fluffy’s coat is tangled, matted, greasy, and/or dirty, it won’t be very comfortable, and it won’t be as effective at keeping her warm or cool. Unkempt coats also increase the risk of skin problems.

Be Gentle

Senior kitties have very delicate skin, which can rip and tear quite easily. Be extremely careful. Kitties with long hair are particularly prone to getting mats and tangles. If you come across mats, try a detangling brush. If that doesn’t work, you may need to clip it out. Use round-end scissors, and be very gentle.

Bathe Cautiously

You don’t have to bathe your furry buddy, though you can if you want to. Be very gentle picking Fluffy up and putting her down! Use only a few inches of lukewarm water, and a shampoo or conditioner made specifically for cats. Human products are too strong for kitties, and can strip the oils from their fur, leaving them looking dry and even a bit frizzy. If you do bathe Fluffy, don’t let her get chilly as she’s drying off. If your cat doesn’t mind, you can use a blow dryer on a low/warm setting. Just don’t force the issue.

Make It Pleasant

This is one area where you want to work with your feline buddy, rather than against her. Work lots of cuddles, pets, and compliments into Fluffy’s beauty sessions, so she realizes she’s being cared for. When you’re done, offer her a special treat or even some catnip.

Use The Time

Take the time to check Fluffy over. Look for anything out of the ordinary, such as bumps, bruises, swelling, lesions, and soreness. Call your vet right away if you notice anything that seems off. 

Our Advice on Senior Cat Grooming in 2024

Why is regular brushing important for senior cats?

Regular brushing is crucial for senior cats as their self-grooming abilities often diminish with age. They may struggle to reach certain areas due to stiffness or soreness, leading to mats, tangles, and a buildup of dirt and oils in their coat. Regular brushing helps prevent these issues, keeping their fur clean, detangled, and comfortable. It also stimulates blood circulation, which is beneficial for skin health. Furthermore, brushing reduces the amount of loose hair, minimizing hairballs, and provides an opportunity to check for any skin abnormalities or changes in your cat’s health.

How should you handle grooming a senior cat with delicate skin?

When grooming a senior cat with delicate skin, it’s important to be exceptionally gentle. Use a soft-bristled brush or a comb specifically designed for sensitive skin. Start slowly and brush lightly to avoid causing any discomfort or skin damage. Be especially cautious around areas prone to matting, such as under the arms and behind the ears. If you encounter mats, gently tease them apart with your fingers or use a detangling brush, avoiding pulling or tugging. If necessary, trim mats carefully with round-end scissors. Always monitor your cat’s reaction and stop if they seem distressed or in pain.

What precautions should you take if you choose to bathe your senior cat?

When bathing a senior cat, take several precautions to ensure their safety and comfort. Use lukewarm water, not too deep, to prevent stress and maintain a comfortable temperature. Choose a cat-specific shampoo, as human products can be harsh on their skin and fur. Be gentle when handling your senior cat, supporting them securely to avoid slips or falls. After bathing, wrap them in a warm towel to prevent chilling. If using a blow dryer, set it on a low, warm setting and keep it at a safe distance. Always monitor your cat’s response and discontinue if they appear distressed. Avoid frequent baths unless necessary, as older cats’ skin can be sensitive.

How can you make grooming a pleasant experience for your senior cat?

To make grooming a pleasant experience for your senior cat, start by creating a calm, quiet environment. Use gentle strokes and speak softly to soothe them. Choose a comfortable spot, like their favorite resting area, and use tools that are gentle on their skin. Introduce grooming gradually, especially if they’re not used to it, and limit sessions to short durations. Incorporate positive reinforcement like treats, affection, and praise to associate grooming with a positive experience. Observe your cat’s reactions and adjust your approach accordingly, ensuring they feel secure and loved throughout the process.

What should you look for during grooming sessions to monitor your senior cat’s health?

During grooming sessions with your senior cat, look for signs that might indicate health issues. Examine their skin for lumps, bumps, wounds, or signs of infection like redness, swelling, or discharge. Check for fleas, ticks, or other parasites. Observe the condition of their coat – excessive dandruff, greasiness, or hair loss can signal underlying health problems. Pay attention to any sensitivity or pain responses, which might indicate arthritis or other discomforts. Also, note changes in behavior or grooming habits, as these can be early indicators of health issues. Regular grooming is an excellent opportunity to keep tabs on your senior cat’s overall health.

Do you have questions about your senior cat’s health or care? Contact us, your Yorkville, IL animal clinic, anytime.

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