British cat with tongue on blue backgroundWritten by Linda Lee, Owner of Fat Cat Flats

Yes, No & Maybe!
Many cats are natural groomers. However, if they were removed from “mom” too early, were bred for certain characteristics such as the long, undercoated hair of Persians, or are aging, they may need some help.We have all watched a shorthaired Orange Tabby spend an hour in a sunny window fastidiously washing face, paws and various other parts. This is a customary practice in the cat world. Most cats like to be clean. They also want their litter box and surroundings neat and tidy. In fact, many litter box problems stem from not keeping the box up to your cat’s standards.

Cats can’t do all this cleaning alone. They shed or perhaps they were bred for that big bouffant coat with a regal mane, tail and feathery feet. They need us to keep them in fine trim.

The alternative is professional grooming. Shorthaired cats should be bathed twice a year at change of seasons, longhairs with silky coats four times a year and Persians (and any heavily undercoated cat who mats) should receive a comb-out every few weeks with a full service bath groom every six weeks. The modifying factors are allergies or continuing hairball problems.

Where can I find the time to do all this combing? If time is a problem, consider a lion cut where the cat is shaved to resemble a little lion with a big mane and pommed tail. The upkeep on this cut is every three to four months. We do lion cuts on short and longhairs alike to solve these problems and the shave produces a sleek look. Clients tell us that their kitty seems to enjoy less hair by being more active when they get home.

A word of caution; never cut mats off your cat with scissors. A cat’s skin is extremely thin and it behaves much like “pantyhose”. A little nick can produce a long tear. If your cat gets matted, consider a lion cut (scissoring should be done with sedation). Be sure to ask your groomer how they work and make it clear that scissoring is not to be done.

If you choose a professional groom, ask questions about the groomer’s experience with cats. If your cat is not sedated, make sure there is another person available to help hold your cat. There are few regulations in the grooming industry, so it is up to you to ask questions or obtain a recommendation from your vet.

Originally Published in the December 2009 Issue of Houston PetTalk Magazine.