Grooming your cat can be a chore to say the least. Grooming a long-haired cat can be an almost hair-raising experience. Be prepared for hair up your nose, in your eyes, and you might even end up with a little in your digestive tract. I will say that when you are finished and your cat has calmed down from being violated, you will both be happy you took the time to make your four-legged ball of fluff feel her very best.
- Acquire your products and grooming tools. For grooming a long-haired cat, you are going to need a slicker brush, a wide- and fine-tooth comb, cat-size nail clippers, small blunt-tipped scissors, shampoo and conditioner. You can get all of these supplies at your local pet store for under $30.00. I do suggest using all-natural shampoos and conditioners because of the benefit to your cat's health, but you can go with anything you feel comfortable with. Just make sure that the products are made specifically for your feline, because human shampoos and conditioners can be too hard on their skin.
- Prepare your grooming area. I suggest a grooming table because it makes the process so much easier. A grooming table comes with an arm and a noose (a loop-like device to hold your cat in place). Make sure, if you are using this method, you do not leave your cat unattended. Cats tend to leap from the table if they feel they can get away, so it is best if you place the noose around the neck with one of the front legs through it. This will lessen the chance that you will hang your precious little fur-monster. A regular table at abdominal level will work just fine if you decide not to go with the grooming table. It is totally up to you; I just suggest the grooming table because it does make the task easier. Set out all tools from step one.
- Trim the nails. I can't stress it enough that you must trim your cat's nails before doing any other step. This is to save you from any scratch-related injuries. Remember, most cats will bite, claw and dig their way away from you. At least if you have the claws taken care of you only have to worry about the biting.
- Brush out the entire coat. For this step you should start with the slicker brush and brush the coat in sections. Then, move to the wide-tooth comb and comb in the same manner as the brush. Follow up with the fine-tooth comb. If at any point in the process, you cannot get through the fur, you must go back to the prior tool. For instance, if the comb keeps getting stuck when using the fine-tooth comb, go back to the wide-tooth and comb that area again. The slicker brush should work for breaking through any mats, but if you find it doesn't, you may want to purchase a de-matter. Please make sure no tangles or mats are left in the coat before proceeding to the next step. Mats and tangles worsen when wet and any mats you had trouble with before the bath will be impossible afterward.
- Bathe the kitty. When moving to the bathing area make sure you bring your shampoo, conditioner, three cloths and a towel. I like to complete a few steps while bathing. The success rate of bathing a long-haired cat depends on how fast you can do it. Cats have a short attention span and get annoyed very easily, so the more steps you can do at once, the better.
- Wet the cat completely and make sure to float the coat. This process gets the water deep into the undercoat. I suggest taking a sink spray hose and putting it close to the skin if your long-haired cat cannot tolerate being put into water. It might not work as well as floating the coat but if it causes less stress, it's for the better.
- Clean the eyes, ears and rectal area very well. Be careful not to get water directly into any of these areas. This is what the cloths are for. To avoid contamination, use a different cloth for each area. Tearless baby shampoo works well for cleaning around the eyes.
- Shampoo your cat, making sure to rinse well, and follow up with conditioner. If you feel your cat can handle an extra few minutes you might want to let the conditioner seep into the coat, if not, rinse the conditioner out right away.
- Wrap a towel around your cat. Do not rub the coat -- this will cause new mats. Just wrap the towel around your cat and hold her for a few minutes until some of the water is absorbed by the towel. You may want to change the towel a couple of time for optimal drying. This step will cut your drying time in half.
- Dry your cat. Although some people may say that allowing your cat to air dry is acceptable, I don't agree. Your cat needs to be dried to prevent dirt from sticking to her coat while laying down or using the litter box. Also, mats can form on a wet coat much easier than a clean dry one, so I suggest this step is not skipped.
To dry your cat, you may need a crate. You can use your hair dryer at the lowest heat setting and NEVER leave your cat unattended. Overheating can happen very easily and you just don't want to take that risk. Dry the coat in sections and fluff with the slicker brush until completely dry. Make sure the dryer doesn't stay in one place for too long; you don't want to burn Fluffy's skin!
- Trim up the feet. This is optional, but you may want to slightly trim the stray hair from around the feet. This step will make the litter box much more enjoyable for both you and your little kitty. The less hair to pick up the litter, the better.
- Brush the teeth. If you feel brave enough to brush the teeth, by all means go ahead. The most successful way to brush a cat's teeth is with medical gauze and toothpaste specially formulated for cats.
You wrap the gauze around your index finger, and then put the toothpaste on the gauze and your finger in the cat's mouth. Once again, I stress that this is for brave pet owners. Another good way to optimize dental health in felines is by giving teeth-cleansing treats and having regular vet treatments done. It's up to you as to whether you would like to try it yourself or not.