As cats age, they require more grooming attention, especially during their golden years. Our veterinarians at La Pine will explain why senior cats' fur can become tangled and offer safe grooming tips.
Should I Groom My Senior Cat?
As cats age, they may struggle with self-grooming due to factors like arthritis. Proper grooming is crucial for senior cats because matted fur can be painful, especially for those with less muscle or fat.
Additionally, aging skin loses elasticity, increasing discomfort and the risk of injuries. Taking a proactive approach to grooming can prevent unnecessary pain and make the task easier for both you and your cat.
Why Do Older Cats Get Matted Fur?
If you observe your senior cat grooming less and developing mats in their fur, consult your veterinarian promptly. Inadequate self-grooming may indicate an underlying medical issue requiring swift attention. Cats are skilled at concealing pain, so it may be difficult to recognize if they are suffering.
Some reasons why your senior cat might not be grooming themselves as often or as efficiently include:
- Dental problems
- Osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease
- Increased skin oil production
Geriatric cats can be at a higher risk of developing the above conditions. If you see your senior cat's fur becoming more matted, or they aren't grooming themselves as well as they used to, contact your vet who will be able to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
How To Brush Your Senior Cat
As we said above, it's very important to keep your senior cats' fur well-groomed to keep their fur from matting. Below are tips on how you can brush your senior cat's fur:
- Brush your cat in a place where they will be comfortable such as on a soft mat.
- Start by petting your cat from head to tail, looking for any problem areas that are sensitive to them.
- 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.
- First, brush your cat with the rubber brush and work your way to the metal comb.
- If you find mats on your cat's fur DO NOT try to cut, pull, or yank them because you can hurt your kitty. Instead, you can try to loosen the mat gently with your fingers or apply a bit of cornstarch to the mat and brush it through. If it's too hard to brush the mats out by yourself take your cat to a professional groomer.
- Pay extra attention when brushing around your cat's hips, underbelly, and hind legs because these areas can be sensitive for older cats.
- 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.
- 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 old 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 bathe them. You must 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 bath your senior cat:
- Fill a large plastic bin or your bathtub with enough warm (not hot) water to cover their underbelly.
- Make sure you brush your cat first and that they are free of any mats or tangles.
- Gently place your furry friend into the tub, reassuring your cat by giving them praise and petting them.
- 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.
- Lather your kitty in a special cat shampoo (do not use human shampoo) avoiding the head and face.
- Using a cup or a detachable shower head, rinse the soap off your cat. To prevent any irritation, make sure all the soap is rinsed off (this could take several rinses).
- Wrap your cat in a clean, dry towel and pat them dry. Don't use a hairdryer because it can burn their sensitive skin.
- Until your cat is completely dry keep them in a warm area.
Your senior cat's bathing frequency depends on their individual requirements, which your primary care veterinarian can advise. In general, long-haired cats benefit from a monthly bath, while short-haired cats or seniors only need bathing when they are soiled or have an unpleasant odor to prevent infections.
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.