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How to Groom Your Senior Cat: What You Need to Know

Your cat's grooming will need extra attention as your feline friend enters their golden years. In this post, our Baltimore veterinarians list some reasons why matted cat hair may become a problem and how you can safely groom your pet. 

Should I Groom My Senior Cat?

Our cats may find it more difficult to groom themselves the older they get, for numerous reasons. These can include arthritis or obesity. 

Since an unkempt coat can lead to painful matting in your feline friend's fur, it's important to keep your aging cat well-groomed. Mats may even become more painful for cats that don't have excess fat or muscle. This is pretty common in senior cats. 

Cats' skin also loses elasticity as they age, which can increase the discomfort they experience if their fur becomes matted. This also leaves them more prone to various injuries such as bruising and tearing. 

Our veterinarians recommend being proactive about your senior cat's grooming routine, since this can save them from unnecessary pain and discomfort while making the task easier and more pleasant for both of you. 

Why Do Older Cats Get Matted Fur?

If you've noticed that your older cat hasn't been grooming themselves as thoroughly or as frequently as they used to, they may have matted fur. Book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible if this is the case for your feline friend. 

Cats that aren't grooming themselves properly may be plagued by a medical issue that needs immediate care. That said, even the most attentive owner may not be able to tell if their cat is feeling uncomfortable or experiencing pain since they are adept at hiding pain. 

Some factors that may be preventing your senior cat from grooming themselves as often or as efficiently as necessary include:

  • Osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease 
  • Dental issues
  • Obesity 
  • Increased production of oils on the skin 

Geriatric cats may have an increased risk of developing any of the conditions listed above. If you've noticed that your cat's fur is beginning to mat or that they aren't grooming themselves appropriately, contact your vet as soon as possible so they can diagnose and treat the underlying medical condition. 

How to Brush Your Senior Cat

As mentioned previously, it's imperative to keep your senior cat's fur well-groomed to prevent it from becoming matted. Here are some tips on how to brush your senior cat's fur to help prevent matting. 

As mentioned above, it's very important to keep your senior cat's fur well-groomed to prevent it from matting over time. Below are some tips on how to brush your senior cat's fur in order to help prevent matting:

  1. If you find mats in your cat's hair, DO NOT try to cut, pull or yank at them. This will hurt your cat. Instead, you can try to gently loosen the mat with your finger or apply some cornstarch to the mat and try to gently brush it through. If it is too hard to brush a mat out at home, bring your cat in to see a professional groomer. 
  2. Brush your cat in a place where they will be comfortable such as on a soft mat.
  3. Start by petting your cat from head to tail, looking for any problem areas that are sensitive for them.
  4. Brush them in the same pattern switching between brushes, including a rubber brush to collect loose fur, a pin brush to detangle fur (especially if your kitty has long fur), and a metal comb to help brush through mats.
  5. First, brush your cat with the rubber brush and work your way to the metal comb.
  6. Pay extra attention when brushing around your cat's hips, underbelly, and hind legs because these areas can be sensitive for older cats.
  7. If you notice any lumps, bumps, or sensitive to touch spots on your cat's limbs or joints call your vet so they can give your kitty a checkup. 
  8. Give your feline friend lots of calming praise and some treats during the process. You can also help distract your cat by giving them some of their favorite food to munch on.

The frequency you have to brush your cat depends on what type of fur they have because every cat is different. Typically, long-haired cats should be brushed once a day, if your senior cat has shorter hair they can benefit from being brushed one day a week.

Remember the more often you brush your cat the easier it will be. Your veterinarian will also be able to provide you with advice on the best types of brushes and equipment to use and can inform you how often you should brush your kitty.

How To Clean an Older Cat's Fur

Most people know that cats don't like water, so it's normal for them to hiss, struggle and try to fight when you go to give them a bath. It's very important that you stay calm and talk to your cat in a soothing calming voice during the entire process. You should also keep the door closed to keep them from running away.

Here is how you can give your senior cat a bath:

  1. Fill a large plastic bin or your bathtub with enough warm (not hot) water to cover their underbelly.
  2. Make sure you brush your cat first and that they are free of any mats or tangles.
  3. Gently place your furry friend into the tub, reassuring your cat by giving them praise and petting them.
  4. Carefully wet your cat's fur with a cup full of water or a wet cloth. Keep your cat's head and face dry to prevent any irritation to their eyes, ears, and nose.
  5. Lather your kitty in a special cat shampoo (do not use human shampoo) avoiding the head and face.
  6. Using a cup or a detachable showerhead rinse the soap off of your cat. To prevent any irritation make sure all of the soap is rinsed off (this could take several rinses).
  7. Wrap your cat in a clean, dry towel and pat them dry. Don't use a hairdryer because it can burn their sensitive skin.
  8. Until your cat is completely dry keep them in a warm area.

Every cat has different needs, so your primary care vet will be able to explain to you how often you should bathe your senior cat. As a guideline, to keep a long-haired cat clean, it's best to bathe them once a month while short-haired cats and senior cats will only need to be bathed as needed to help prevent bad smells and infection. 

Cat Grooming in Baltimore

If you'd rather take your cat to a professional groomer, we are here to help and happy to keep your kitty looking clean and healthy. Our professional bathing services are available daily, and our groomer has all the knowledge and experience required to groom your feline friend, no matter their coat type or temperament. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you want to learn more about grooming your senior cat? Contact our friendly team at Falls Road Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment if you have questions about your senior cat's hygiene requirements. 

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