Cats are famous for taking care of their own grooming, without needing encouragement from anyone else. Getting involved in your cat's grooming, however, helps to strengthen the bond between you and provides a chance to check for any signs of ill health. Most cats get used to grooming - and enjoy it.
The benefits of grooming
Grooming not only stimulates the circulation and improves muscle tone, but also minimizes hairballs in the stomach by removing loose hairs. It smoothes down the fur to insulate the body more efficiently, and stimulates the glands at the base of the hairs which waterproof the coat. In hot weather, licking spreads saliva that cools your cat as it evaporates; grooming also spreads sebum (a natural oil that protects and waterproofs the hair and skin) across the coat.
Make grooming part of your cat's regular routine, introducing it as early a possible - ideally when your cat is still a kitten. Grooming will not only give you the chance to spot external parasites and skin wounds, and keep fur off your sofa, you'll also be spending quality time bonding with your pet.
How to groom
For shorthaired cats, use a fine-toothed metal comb weekly and a natural-bristle or rubber brush to remove any dead hairs. Gently brush or comb your cat's hair, using strokes in the direction that the hair grows. Use the bristle brush to sweep up the coat in the direction of the head, and then smooth it down again.
Long haired cats
Groom daily with a steel comb any knots can be teased out with your fingers, or cut off carefully with blunt-ended scissors. Alternatively, you may want to get your vet to do this as it is very easy to cut the skin. If grooming is a struggle, try offering food treats, stroking and talking reassuringly, then gently start to groom as your cat's attention turns to the treat.