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Medical Benefits of Regular Home Grooming for Cats

The condition of your cat’s coat and skin is an important feline health 
indicator. Healthy coats are shiny and smooth, and healthy skin will be 
supple and clear. While nutrition and health status will influence a cat’s 
appearance, regular grooming also has an impact. At-home grooming 
care, including daily brushing, is an important part of feline wellness care.

While most cats are fastidious groomers and rarely require a bath, regular 
at home grooming, including daily brushing, is still important. Brushing is 
especially important for long-haired cats, which are more susceptible to 
tangles and matted fur. Daily brushing is the best way to remove loose 
hairs. Daily brushing will also help owners who suffer from allergies as 
regular grooming reduces the amount of hair and pet dander in the home. 
For people with mild cat allergies, daily brushing may sufficiently reduce 
airborne feline allergens, making it possible for these individuals to 
comfortably share a home with cats.

Regular brushing also helps to reduce the amount of hair that cats 
naturally swallow through self-grooming. This may reduce  the quantity 
and severity of hairballs.  If pet owners do choose to bathe their cats, 
choose shampoos that are specially formulated for felines.  Older or obese 
pets with mobility restrictions may need additional grooming assistance, 
including at-home baths, if they are unable to fully groom themselves.

Nails should be checked during weekly grooming sessions and trimmed 
as needed. Cat nails grow differently than dog's or people's nails.  
Cats shed their nails like a reptile sheds its skin. As cats age, they 
use scratching posts less, and the nail caps can build up to the point 
where the nails curl around and penetrate the pads of the feet. Cat nail 
clippers can be used to trim nails and prevent this from happening.

During at-home grooming, pet owners should also perform a mini-physical 
on their cat, evaluating the cat’s skin and coat condition, feeling for any 
lumps and bumps, or noting any painful areas.  While rubbing a cat’s head 
or scratching the chin, use the forefingers to gently raise the upper lips, 
checking for abnormal teeth or red gums.  In addition to being a special 
bonding time for cats and their owners, a feline health assessment during 
grooming is critical for older cats who are masters at hiding the symptoms 
of illness. Early diagnosis of health problems starts with proactive at-home 
care.

Source: 
Cornell Feline Health Center, “The Special Needs of the Senior Cat.”



How Do I Groom My Cat?

Effective at-home grooming starts with the right products. Talk to your 
veterinarian about what brush is best for your cat; long-haired cats will 
need a different brush than short-haired cats.

Once you have the right products, brush your cat on a daily basis. Cats 
prefer routine, which is why your veterinarian may recommend brushing 
your cat in conjunction with an evening feeding or right before bedtime. 
If you will also be bathing your cat, ask your veterinarian which shampoo 
would be best to use.

Veterinary Topics