Call Us! Button

Header Button Right 2

Request an Appointment Button

Grooming A Senior Cat
January 15, 2024

There are many things to love about our feline friends, but one reason they make such great pets is because they’re naturally very clean. Your kitty will diligently groom herself every day. In fact, she may spend up to a third of her waking time on her beauty regime! However, as your cat ages, you may notice her fur beginning to look unkempt. That’s not uncommon in senior cats. Actually, your pet may actually need a bit of help at this stage in her life. A local Fayetteville, NC vet offers some advice on grooming an aging cat in this article.

How Do You Brush A Senior Cat?

Many cats actually enjoy being groomed. Fluffy may even look forward to her beauty sessions. You want her to equate being brushed to being pampered.

A few tips:

  • Wait until your kitty feels relaxed and cuddly. If your pet likes to curl up on your lap at night, this would be a good time.
  • Start by gently petting Fluffy, moving in the direction of her fur. Slowly incorporate the brush. 
  • Be very gentle! 
  • Keep that motor going! Incorporate cuddles and some sweet talk to keep Fluffy relaxed. 

Why Do Senior Cats Look Disheveled?

Have you ever noticed that senior kitties sometimes look unkempt? There’s actually a reason for that. As Fluffy ages, she’ll naturally lose strength and flexibility. That makes it harder for her to bend and stretch enough to reach her entire body. Obesity also plays a role here. Many of our feline pals get a bit chubby in their golden years. (Extra pounds are bad for Fluffy for many reasons, but we’ll stick to grooming in this blog.) Being overweight also makes it tough for cats to groom themselves

increased oiliness is another factor. As Fluffy ages, her body chemistry will change a bit. Older cats’ skin often naturally produces more oil than that of their younger counterparts. This can make them a bit greasy. It also makes mats and tangles more likely, even in kitties with short fur. 

Fluffy’s health also comes into play here. Certain health issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, can exacerbate this problem. Ask your veterinarians for more information. 

How Frequently Should I Groom A Senior Kitty?

Fluffy will probably let you know when she’s had enough. She may just walk away, though some kitties may choose to make their point by lightly biting or scratching. When your pet decides that she’s had enough, just let her go. Don’t force her to submit beyond this. You won’t have much luck forcing her to stay still. For one thing, that’s a great way to get scratched. Plus, the next time you try to groom her, your furry little friend may just retreat under the bed to peek out at you.

How Do I Remove Mats From A Senior Cat’s Fur?

Does your furry pal have knots? If so, you may want to get a special detangling brush. However, these work best on tangles that are small and/or just forming. Mats that have gotten ‘established’ are a different story. You’re not likely to get a tough knot out by combing or brushing. In fact, this can be dangerous. Older cats often have very delicate skin, which can rip easily. 

For bad snarls, you may need to clip them out. Always use blunt-end scissors, and be careful not to cut Fluffy’ skin. If your furry friend frequently gets mats or tangles, you may find it best to take your cat to a groomer, as they have the tools, setup, and experience necessary to give your feline overlord a glow-up.

How Frequently Should I Groom My Aging Cat?

There’s a bit of flexibility here, as Fluffy’s grooming needs will depend on the type of fur she has and how thick it is. Longhaired cats of course need the most attention, but even kitties with short haircuts can get mats.

In general, short-haired furballs may only need to be brushed once or twice a week, while those with long hair may need to be brushed several times a week. Your vet can give you specific advice. 

Should I Give A Senior Cat A Bath?

For the most part, you won’t need to bathe Fluffy, though you can if you want to. However, you’ll need to take a few precautions.

First and foremost, make sure the water isn’t too hot. Kitties have very sensitive skin, and can get scalded at temperatures that are comfortable for us. Use lukewarm water. 

You also don’t want to make the water too deep. If you’re bathing Fluffy in a tub or sink, don’t fill it any higher than your cute pet’s belly. 

Next, only use products made specifically for cats. Human soaps and shampoos are just too harsh for cats. They can strip the oils from Fluffy’s fur, leaving her coat dry and even frizzy. 

Your feline pal will be quite sensitive to weather changes and could get chilly while she’s wet. if she doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her, using a low setting. Just make sure she isn’t wet and cold.

Finally, keep in mind that older cats can be quite weak and frail, even if they still act like kittens. If your pet doesn’t enjoy being bathed, she may struggle. Hanging onto a wet, unhappy cat is no easy feat! Your furry pal could accidentally slip, and would be more vulnerable to injuries if she does fall.

What Else Should I Do Beside Brushing My Senior Cat?

Some kitties need their eyes or ears cleaned regularly. If your pet has long hair, you may also need to gently trim the fur around her bottom to help keep it clean. This will vary from cat to cat, so ask your Fayetteville, NC vet for specific advice. 

Dental issues are very prevalent in senior kitties. The best way to keep your furry pal’s choppers clean is to brush them. Start slowly, by just gently touching your kitty’s teeth as you pet her. Slowly incorporate the brush. No luck? You can also try other feline dental products, such as oral flakes or rinses. These can also be helpful! 

Should I Cut My Senior Kitty’s Claws?

Declawing has largely fallen out of public favor, as more people opt for the painless and temporary solution of just clipping their pets’ claws. You can absolutely give your feline buddy a pawdicure. Just keep a few things in mind. First and foremost? Don’t clip your cat’s nails if you plan to let her outdoors. Those nails are Fluffy’s only real defense! We always recommend keeping older cats inside, for safety reasons, so think carefully about this. 

There’s also another safety issue to consider: Fluffy could hurt herself if she tries to jump onto the couch, and doesn’t realize that she won’t stick. Ask your Fayetteville, NC vet for recommendations on this. 

Tips For Grooming An Older Cat

Last but not least, make the best of this time. Gently inspect your pet’s body condition, and watch for things like swelling, lumps, bumps, or skin issues. Contact your animal hospital right away if you spot anything amiss. 

Do you have questions about grooming a senior cat? We are here to help! Contact us, your local Fayetteville, NC pet hospital, today!