How to Groom Your Senior Cat: What You Need To Know

As cats age, they require extra grooming attention to maintain their fur. In this article, our Grenada vets explain why senior cats' fur is more prone to matting and offer tips on how to groom them safely.

Should I Groom My Senior Cat?

As cats age, they may struggle to groom themselves due to conditions like arthritis or obesity. Keeping senior cats well-groomed is crucial because unkempt fur can lead to painful matting, which can be even more uncomfortable for cats with less muscle or fat.

As cats age, their skin becomes less elastic, making them more prone to injuries like tearing and bruising.

To avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort, it's best to groom your senior cat proactively. This also makes grooming easier and more enjoyable for both of you.

Why Do Older gets matted cat hair?

Have you noticed your senior cat not grooming themselves as much or as thoroughly as they used to, and their fur is starting to mat? Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cats not grooming themselves properly may be suffering from a medical issue requiring immediate care. However, it's not always easy to tell if your cat feels pained or uncomfortable because they are very good at hiding pain. 

Some reasons why your senior cat might not be grooming themselves as often or as efficiently include:

  • Obesity
  • Dental problems
  • Increased skin oil production
  • Osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease

Geriatric cats may be at a higher risk of developing any of the above conditions. if you see that your senior cat's fur is becoming matted or that they aren't grooming themselves properly, contact your vet as soon as possible to allow them to diagnose and treat the underlying disease.

How To Brush Your Senior Cat

To prevent matting of your senior cat's fur, follow these grooming tips:

  1. If you find mats in your cat's hair, DO NOT try to cut, pull or yank at them. This will hurt your cat. Instead, you can gently loosen the mat with your finger or apply some cornstarch to the mat and brush it gently. If brushing a mat out at home is too hard, bring your cat in to see a professional groomer. 
  2. Brush your cat in a place where they will be comfortable such as on a soft mat.
  3. Start by petting your cat from head to tail, looking for any problem areas that are sensitive to them.
  4. 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.
  5. First, brush your cat with the rubber brush and work your way to the metal comb.
  6. Pay extra attention when brushing around your cat's hips, underbelly, and hind legs because these areas can be sensitive for older cats.
  7. If you notice any lumps, bumps, or sensitive touch spots on your cat's limbs or joints call your vet so they can give your kitty a checkup. 
  8. Give your feline friend lots of calming praise and 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 its fur type 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 Your Older Cat's Fur

Most people know cats don't like water, so it's normal for them to hiss, struggle, and fight when they bathe. You must stay calm and talk to your cat in a soothing, calming voice throughout the process. You should also keep the door closed to keep them from running away.

Here is how you can give your senior cat a bath:

  1. Fill a large plastic bin or bathtub with enough warm (not hot) water to cover their underbelly.
  2. Ensure you brush your cat first and that they are free of any mats or tangles.
  3. Gently place your furry friend into the tub, reassuring your cat by giving them praise and petting them.
  4. 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 its eyes, ears, and nose.
  5. Lather your kitty in a special cat shampoo (do not use human shampoo) avoiding the head and face.
  6. Using a cup or a detachable showerhead rinse the soap off of your cat. To prevent any irritation, ensure all of the soap is rinsed off (this could take several rinses).
  7. Wrap your cat in a clean, dry towel and pat them dry. Don't use a hairdryer because it can burn sensitive skin.
  8. Until your cat is completely dry keep them in a warm area.

Your senior cat's bathing needs may vary based on their needs, so it's best to consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate frequency. Typically, long-haired cats should be bathed once a month to keep their fur clean, while short-haired and senior cats only need to be bathed as needed to prevent unpleasant odors and infections.

Do you have questions about grooming your senior cat? Schedule an appointment to learn more about your senior cat's hygiene needs by contacting Veterinary Associates today