Cats can suffer from skin conditions that don’t involve fleas, ticks or other parasites. If your cat shows any of the following signs, please have her examined by your vet:
- Persistent scratching
- Excessive licking and grooming
- Biting at the skin and coat
- Swelling under the skin
- Increased shedding/bald patches
Neglecting to brush your kitty’s coat can lead to painful tangles and a bellyful of hair. You’ll know if your cat is suffering from hairballs when he coughs them up onto the floor or expels them in his feces. If, despite regular brushing, your cat continues to suffer from hairballs, there are several remedies available. Please ask your vet to recommend a solution.
A healthy cat grooms himself regularly and fastidiously. However, if your cat obsessively licks certain parts of his body, giving himself bald spots and sores, please bring him in for a veterinary exam. The cause might be fleas, an allergy or stress that can be resolved by altering something in your cat’s environment.
Many hair and skin problems can be linked to a poor—possibly allergy-causing—diet. A nutritionally complete food that is appropriate for your cat’s age and the amount of exercise she does, plenty of fresh water and not too many treats should bring a glow to her skin and coat. Check with your vet to help determine the right food and optimum feeding schedule for your cat.
Bathing Your Cat
With her built-in grooming tools (tongue and teeth, of course), your fastidious feline is well-equipped to tackle her own haircare needs. But if she is very dirty or gets into something sticky or smelly, you may need to give her a bath. Read the following tips before you begin to ensure minimal stress and maximum efficiency.
- Perfect timing: Schedule baths when your cat’s at her most mellow. A play session with a cat dancer or other toy of choice can help tire out even the friskiest of felines.
- Clip, snip: For your own protection, ASPCA experts recommend trimming Fluffy’s claws before bathing.
The brush-off: Next, give your cat a good brushing to remove any loose hair and mats. Now’s also a good time to gently place some cotton in her ears to keep the water out.
Stand firm: Place a rubber bath mat in the sink or tub where you’ll be bathing your kitty so she doesn’t slip. Fill with three to four inches of lukewarm (not hot, please!) water.
Just add water: Use a hand-held spray hose to thoroughly wet your pet, taking care not to spray directly in her ears, eyes and nose. If you don’t have a spray hose, a plastic pitcher or unbreakable cup works great.
Lather up: Gently massage your pet with a solution of one part cat shampoo (human shampoo can dry out her skin) to five parts water, working from head to tail, in the direction of hair growth. Take care to avoid the face, ears and eyes.
All clear: Thoroughly rinse the shampoo off your cat with a spray hose or pitcher; again, be sure the water is lukewarm. Take good care that all residue has been removed, as it can irritate the skin and act as a magnet for dirt.
About face: Use a washcloth to carefully wipe your pet’s face. Plain water is fine unless her face is very dirty—in which case, we recommend using an extra-diluted solution of shampoo, being very cautious around her ears and eyes.
Dry idea: You’re almost there! Wrap your cat in a large towel and dry her with it in a warm place, away from drafts. If your kitty doesn’t mind the noise, you can use a blow dryer—on the lowest heat setting. And please note, if your pet has long hair, you may need to carefully untangle her fur with a wide-toothed comb.
Good girl!: Your little bathing beauty deserves endless praise—and her favorite treat—after all this! And with such a happy ending, next time she may find that bath time isn’t so bad.