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Your Senior Cat’s Grooming Needs

January 15, 2024

One of the many wonderful things about cats—aside from the fact that they are super cute and very lovable— is the fact that they are quite clean. Fluffy grooms herself daily, and won’t need baths. In fact, your furry little diva may spend as much as a third of her waking hours grooming her fur and keeping it soft, shiny, and free of tangles. You may notice, however, that as your cat ages, she no longer takes as much time on her beauty regime as she once did. Fluffy may need a bit of help caring for her fur as she ages. A local Cedar City, UT vet offers some advice on grooming a senior cat in this article.


What Are the Benefits of Grooming Senior Cats?


Older cats sometimes look a bit disheveled. As your feline pal ages, she will naturally lose some strength and flexibility. This will make it harder for her to bend and stretch. Because of this, it can become increasingly difficult for her to reach her entire body as she gets older.


Many of our feline buddies become chubby in their golden years. (Extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for many reasons, but we’ll stick to grooming here.) If your cat is too big, she’ll have difficulty reaching her entire body.


In addition, you may notice that your furry friend’s coat may look oily as she ages. Older cats’ skin may produce more oil than that of their younger counterparts. Not only does this make their coats look greasy, it also makes it easy for them to get snarls. Even kitties with short fur can get mats and tangles!


Diabetes or thyroid issues can exacerbate this problem. It’s also worth noting that unkempt fur and poor grooming can be indicative of several medical conditions. Consult your Cedar City, UT veterinarian if you notice sudden and/or drastic changes in your kitty’s fur. 


What Is The Best Way To Groom My Senior Cat?


The main thing is just brushing Fluffy regularly. Cats with long hair need more attention because they are so prone to getting tangled. Mats and snarls are not only uncomfortable, they can also cause other problems, such as skin issues, and will interfere with the insulating qualities of your pet’s fur.  Cats with short fur will still benefit from getting dust and dander out of their coats.


Your kitty’s beauty schedule will depend on her fur. Fluffy may only need to be brushed once or twice a week if she has short fur. Cats with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Ask your Cedar City, UT veterinarian for advice.


Is It Necessary To Bathe A Senior Cat?


Unless something spills on Fluffy’s fur, you rarely have to bathe her. There is, however, one exception: if your pet gets something spilled on her fur. You don’t need to contact the clinic if your feline pal gets a bit of ketchup spilled on her. However, if your kitty gets a chemical and/or thick or oily substance on her, or if she is extremely soiled or matted, contact your veterinarian right away.


You also can give your feline buddy a bath if you like. There are a few things to keep in mind here, though.


Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too deep. Use lukewarm water. It shouldn’t be higher than your feline friend’s chest. In addition, it’s important to use only cat-friendly products. Shampoo and soap made for humans are often too harsh for cats. These could strip the oils from your pet’s fur, leaving it dry and even frizzy.


Is It Dangerous To Bathe A Senior Cat?


In general, no, but with older cats, you’ll need to be extra careful about a few things. When Fluffy is wet, she may become quite chilly. If she doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her with a low setting, though you don’t want to force the issue. If your feline buddy doesn’t like being blow-dried, turn up the heater if it’s chilly out to ensure she stays warm while drying off.


A second thing to keep in mind is that older cats are weaker and frailer than kittens. If your furry buddy doesn’t like being bathed, she might struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy cat is no easy feat! Your pet could slip, and would be more vulnerable to injury if she did fall.


What Is The Best Way To Brush A Senior Cat?


The same rules apply to all of our feline overlords here. The most important thing is to help your cute pet form a positive association with being groomed. Fluffy might even look forward to her beauty sessions if she thinks of being brushed as being pampered. 


  • Let your furry friend decide when the beauty session is over. If you try to make her submit beyond this, she may struggle. That will not only make the process less enjoyable for you both, but will also make it harder the next time. (It’s also a good way to get scratched.) 


  • Wait until Fluffy feels relaxed and cuddly. If your feline pal enjoys curling up on your lap at night, let her settle in.


  • Gently pet her. Move in the direction of her fur. Start with just your hand, then slowly incorporate a brush.


  • Work in some cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. Don’t be surprised if your cat starts her engine. Many kitties enjoy being pampered!


Is There Any Way To Get Tangles Out Of My Cat’s Fur?


You may want to get a special detangling brush for your feline buddy if she has long hair. These are designed to remove mats, and usually do the trick for smaller knots. Be very careful: older cats have very delicate skin, which can easily rip or tear.


You won’t be able to get a thick mat out by combing it. Snarls may need to be clipped out with blunt-end scissors. Be careful not to cut your kitty’s skin.


If your kitty often gets mats or tangles, consider taking her to a groomer.


Is It A Good Idea To Cut My Cat’s Claws?


Declawing has fallen out of favor, for the most part. However, many cat owners trim their kitties’ claws. This is painless and temporary, so it’s something you can experiment with.


However, there are some things to keep in mind.


Don’t cut Fluffy’s nails if you let her go outdoors. Those little claws are her only defense! (Note: we recommend that older cats be kept inside in general, for safety purrposes.)


If your feline friend likes to climb, clipping her nails may throw her off balance. Fluffy could hurt herself if she jumps onto the couch without realizing she won’t stick. You may need to set out pet ramps or stairs.


What Is The Best Time To Groom My Cat?


There’s no right or wrong time. Just wait until your furry friend is fairly relaxed. You’ll also want to let your kitty decide when the beauty session is over. When Fluffy has enough, she’ll let you know, probably by just walking away. 


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


Your feline pal may benefit from having her eyes and ears gently cleaned. If Fluffy has long hair, you may need to gently trim the fur around her bottom. Dental care is also important. Ask your vet for specific advice.


Contact us here at Cedar Veterinary Clinic, your local Cedar City, UT pet hospital if you have questions about caring for a senior cat! We’re here to help! 


Posted in Cat Care

533 North Airport Road
Cedar City, UT 84720
t: (435) 586-3400
Also serving Southern Utah, UT and surrounding areas. 

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