They Groom to Look Their Best!

Are cats vain?

Time for a bath!

I'm pretty sure cats care about how they look and feel more than most other animals. How many times a day do you walk in on your cat taking a bath?

According to the Cat Channel Web site, cats groom themselves for about one-third of the time they are awake.

If a cat overgrooms himself, you will notice bald patches in his fur. If a cat gets stressed, this is sometimes the reaction he'll have. cat grooming The site wisely compares it to humans who bite their fingernails.

According to "Why Do Cats Do That? Real Answers to the Curious Things Cats Do," when a cat washes himself, it serves several purposes. Of course, it keeps him clean. Additionally, "social grooming" reduces tensions among cats in a group; it slows the heart rate. Thirdly, grooming eliminates loose hair and fleas from the skin, and it "stimulates the skin and encourages the growth of new fur; and helps the cat regulate its body temperature through the cooling action of the saliva."

Washing as a defense mechanism...

Also, washing allows a cat to deal with conflict or embarrassment. I hadn't thought about this explanation until I saw it explained in the book. But it's so true: If you scold your cat for doing something he shouldn't have been doing, like sharpening his claws on the couch or biting your ankles, a first reaction may be to give himself a quick bath. The book refers to it as a "displacement behavior," and it helps cats keep their dignity, in a sense. It might be the equivalent of us laughing off a bad joke we told or trying to justify why we said something that unintentionally hurt someone. As humans, our natural reaction to conflict is often to try to justify ourselves. We are not usually quick to admit we were wrong and try to make our actions seem okay. And so it is with cats, I'm finding. A cat grooming himself is his way of dealing with an uncomfortable situation. Interesting, isn't it?

Doing our part...

Cats groom themselves, but we as owners must do our part as well. It's important to have a decent cat comb, which can be purchased at any pet store or even grocery store. In the same way that a cat's tongue stimulates the skin, we need to comb cats regularly for this reason. This can also help cats get rid of fleas, and you will find any ticks that your cat has. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, ticks are tiny bloodsucking insects that can infect your cat. In my experience, they look like little black spiders that are often covered by a small, green, rounded pebble-like structure. If you find a tick, use tweezers to pull it off, and clean the area. Short-haired cats don't need to be combed as often, maybe as little as once a week.

Long-haired cats need to be combed every few days, and you may even have to cut out very matted sections of hair from time to time. Just be very careful when doing that. If the hair is too matted, don't risk cutting into their skin--take your cat to the veternarian's.

April Tubbs, an adoption screener at Pet Rescue By Judy in Sanford, Fla., said that cats are, by nature, quite neat and clean. So if a cat stops grooming himself, something may be wrong.

And although Tubbs says she tends to avoid bathing cats herself because, well, cats aren't the biggest fans of them, she gives this advice when it becomes necessary to do so: "Put a towel down on the bottom of the tub. They are not fond of water, but what really freaks them out is not having anything to hold on to. The towel gives them something to grip. And keep a firm grip on them. If they feel secure, they tend to fight a little bit less."

She said that she has also gotten into the bathtub with her cat and sat him between her knees; and she found that to be successful. And as a sidenote, she highly recommends using baby shampoo because it's mild and won't sting a cat's eyes. (It also kills fleas, which is a major plus!)

Owners should regularly look at their cat's teeth, eyes, ears and nails. Tubbs agrees with this suggestion and said a vet trip is required if anything looks out of the ordinary. If a cat has a runny nose or drippy ("weepy") eyes, they may have a cold.

And cats are very susceptible to developing ear mites, which, according to the Columbia Animal Hospital, are small crab-like parasites that can cause bacterial and yeast infections. If you look into your cat's ears, you may even be able to see little black dots. These could be ear mites or dirt, or both. So, you should wipe out a cat's ear with a cotton ball regularly, but if there is a lot of dirt or build-up, a trip to the vet's may be in order. They can do an ear swab to see if they detect any actual ear mites. But know that it is pretty common for cats to get these if you're not regularly cleaning your cat's ears. I'm currently using a solution from the vet's that is not medicated but that can eliminate dirt and build-up from the ear. Advantage Multi treats for fleas, heartworms and ear mites as well.

Moving on, the Cat Channel site suggests clipping your cat's nails about once a month. You can use regular human nail clippers or purchase special cat clippers. Hold your cat firmly, grasp one of his paws and gently squeeze one of his "toes" between your fingers. His claw will come out, and you can simply trim off the tip. Just be careful not to cut into the pink area of your cat's claws, or you may cause him to bleed.

Watch how easily the woman in the below YouTube video trims one full paw of her kitten's claws.

See? Anyone can do it. You just have to be a little patient depending on the temperament of your cat. And, as the woman in the video mentioned, if your cat is particularly uncooperative, try trimming just a few nails at a time until you can get them all clipped.

Cat Life | Good Eatin' | Catnip | Odd Eating Habits | Meowing and Purring | Grooming | Sleeping | Kneading |