Should I get my cat groomed? Do you groom cats? Can you recommend a groomer?
Most healthy short haired and medium haired cats will be able to adequately groom themselves. You shouldn't ever even need to give them a bath unless they get some type of foreign substance on them that needs to be removed quickly. There are some breeds of cats though, and some health issues that can necessitate grooming your cat.
Long haired cats such as Persians, Himalayans, and domestic long hair cats usually cannot keep up on their fur by themselves, resulting in extensive matting. These cats need to be brushed almost daily. If they won't let you brush them, then taking them to a groomer to either thoroughly comb them out, or shave them to a shorter fur coat may be required. As mats get larger, they can pull at the skin, and even result in lack of air to skin resulting in a type of dermatitis. We don't recommend you try and cut mats out by yourself with a scissors - we repair a lot of skin cuts from owners trying this themselves.
Cats with health issues such as arthritis, obesity, and multiple medical issues may stop grooming themselves because they just can't do so comfortably. These cats also need to be brushed or combed regularly, and if they won't let you do it, take them to a groomer to have them combed or shaved.
At AllFelineHospital we do not have a groomer on staff. But, if your cat is too naughty to go to the groomer, we will comb out, clip mats, or even do a full body shave with sedation or even anesthesia if required. However, we are not professional groomers in any way, the only clippers we have are surgery clippers that go down to the skin, so your cat may look a little funny when we are done. Hey, it'll grow back, right? If you would like some recommendations for groomers, check out our links page or give us a call.
But, taking care of the fur is not the only thing that is considered grooming. Trimming nails, cleaning ears, cleaning teeth, expressing anal sacs, are all considered part of grooming. For cleaning teeth, visit our Dental Health page. Don't even think about expressing your cat's anal sacs on your own unless you like getting bitten by your cat. We will do that for you during your cat's regular exam. Trimming nails is purely up to you. Once you start trimming your cat's nails regularly, they will eventually stop wearing them down on their own, and if you don't continue to trim them regularly, they will be at more of a risk of having their nails grow around into their paw pad.
To trim your cat's nails, look for the red triangle in the nail. That is the blood in the nail. Don't cut that. Cut a few millimeters away from it in the more narrow curved part of the nail. It also doesn't hurt to have some QwikStop on hand (styptic powder that you can purchase from any pet store) in the event that you do accidentally hit the blood vessel. If you didn't plan in advance, and you accidentally hit the blood vessel and you don't have any QwikStop on hand, you can use cornstarch, flour, or even quick dry nail polish to try and get it to stop bleeding, but they don't work nearly as well. If you want to trim your cat's nails, but feel that your cat will not cooperate, you can bring your cat to the vet clinic or to any groomer who will be more than happy to trim your cat's nails for a fee. How often they need to be trimmed depends on the cat, and how much you need for them not to scratch on anything. This can be anywhere from once every other week, to once every other month. Each nail will grow back at a slightly different rate.
Most cats will clean their own ears. Unless your cat tends to produce more earwax than normal, which can arise from a variety of conditions, or your cat doesn't seem to be able to clean their ears very well, you shouldn't need to mess with their ears. If you feel that you just have to clean their ears, first rule of thumb is don't stick anything where you can't see it. You can very easily rupture the eardrum if you stick a q-tip in too deep. If you use an ear wash, if there is any chance at all that the eardrum is damaged for any reason, then you are dumping fluid into your cat's middle and maybe even inner ear, which can cause a whole list of problems. Your best bet is to only clean what you can see with a tissue, and leave the deep cleaning to us or to an experienced groomer. If we feel when you bring your cat in for a routine exam that you need to address your cat's ears at home, we will show you how to safely do it, and provide you with ointments that are generally safe to use in your cat's ear.