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Published: Sep 06, 2012

Dog owners know that caring for your canine's coat is part of regular pet care. But some cat owners may think that felines are able to take care of all their grooming needs on their own. While this is partially true, there are some ways cat owners can help keep their pets' fur nice and healthy. If you're a new cat owner, or want to start grooming your feline companion, here are a few tips.

Understanding your cat's coat

There are infinite varieties of cats in the world, thanks to years of mixed and selective breeding. Some cats have no hair at all, while others have thick, long coats, reports VCA Animal Hospitals. The type of coat your cat has will determine how vigilant you need to be about grooming. Usually, the longer the hair, the more likely the cat is to have a silky outer coat that will become matted or tangled if left unattended for long. You should also monitor how much your cat sheds. Cats who live in cooler parts of the country will usually go through periods of heavy shedding in late spring and late fall. Other cats who are primarily confined to the home will shed less often.

Starting a grooming regimen

According to VCA, all cats benefit from regular or daily brushing. Running a brush or comb through your cat's fur will help with the shedding process, remove dead skin cells, and keep the coat free of dirt, debris and external parasites that could lead to cat illness. There are other benefits to cat grooming as well. Brushing your feline regularly will reduce the amount of debris from their fur floating around your home, which can help alleviate symptoms of people in the household who suffer from cat allergies. Additionally, many cats love being brushed, and it can be a bonding experience for owner and feline.

What type of brush or comb you use will depend on the type of cat you have. VCA recommends stiff bristle brushes for those who have cats with less fur or sparse undercoats. Medium and long-haired cats will likely benefit from long-toothed metal combs or brushes. Remember to always be gentle and watch your feline to see if he is enjoying the brushing.

Bathing your cat: yes or no?

This is where the rumors about not needing to groom your cat come into play. Dogs need regular bathing, but more often than not, cats will take care of their own bathing. Unfortunately, there are some health problems in felines that could cause your cat to be unable to bathe himself properly, in which case you will need to step in and help out. Arthritis or allergies in cats are some of the factors that may make self-grooming and bathing difficult for your feline. Speak to your vet about shampoos formulated specifically for cats, and methods for bathing your feline.

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