How to Groom a Cat – The Basics of Cat Grooming

Even thou cats constantly groom themselves they still need a little grooming help from us humans.  This article will focus on the basics of how to groom a cat.

Before we get started I would like to share with you some info about myself.  I am known as the Crazy Cat Lady, yep that’s me lol!  Being a true cat lover I understand their emotions.  I was one of the few pet groomers in my area that knew how to properly handle a cat.  So with no further ado let’s get started!


Before you being to Groom a Cat

Being a cat owner you should know the habits of your cat.  Don’t grab your cat while they are sleeping then try to groom them.  You will not have a happy cat on your to-groom-a-cat you-must-beware-of-the-cathands.  Never chase your cat and grab them, always approach your cat in a calm manner.   The best times for grooming is when you are both relaxed, like when your sitting on the couch and your cat jumps on your lap for some lovin.  That’s the ideal time to grab a brush and start brushing your cat’s hair.  Never show aggression towards you cat while grooming, it will just make matters worse.  Keep grooming sessions short until they get used to it.  If your cat begins to get irritated let it go, cats do remember bad experiences.  You want the grooming experience to be enjoyable for both yourself and your cat.


How to Brush your Cat

It is important to choose the proper brush for your cat.  A lot will depend on the length and density of your cat’s fur.  A Bristle or Rubber brush works best on short haired cats while a Slicker Brush is recommended for long-haired cats.

Start at the base of the tail and work your way up the back towards the head.  If your cat has long hair you will be lifting the hair as you brush.  Turn your cat over to brush the chest and belly areas.  Always brush in the same direction the hair is growing.  Brushing against the grain will be uncomfortable for your cat and can make them become irritable.  Remember you don’t need to get it all done in one session, your cat will let you know when he/she has had enough.  After you are done brushing go back over your cat’s fur with a fine toothed comb.  This will catch any loose hairs and dirt that the brushing missed.

The Benefits of Brushing your Cat

Many people feel that there is no need to brush their cat being they groom themselves so often.  Well, I’m here to let you know they could use some help.  Brushing and combing your cat’s hair stimulates growth, removes dirt and loose hairs.  As a result, it will help them by reducing the number of hairballs they produce.  Your house will also have a lot less cat hair all over the place.  Brushing can become a wonderful bonding time for you and your cat.  Your love and patience will be a big part as to how well your cat accepts being groomed.


How to Trim your Cat’s Nails

Before you actually go to cut your cat’s nails get him/her used to haveing his/her paws handled.  This can take a few weeks depending on your cat’s temperament.  Makea-cats-paw-with-nails-retracted it a habit of holding and rubbing your cat’s paws everytime he/she come to you for a petting session.  Doing this first will make the actual nail cutting experience a lot easier.

When you look at your cat’s paws you will not see the nail. You will need to hold your cat’s paw and apply gentle pressure to the top of the paw with one finger while placing another finger on one of the pads underneath.  This will make the nail extend out. Using a nail clipper made for cat claws, cut the white tip of the nail.  Never cut too far back.  A cat’s nail has a vein called the quick that runs inside the nail.  Cutting the nail too far back will make it bleed.   I recommend getting some styptic powder or corn starch before you begin because there is always a chance this can happen.


What to do if you Cut the Quick

Place some styptic powder or corn starch into the palm of your hand.  Take the bleeding nail and dip it into your palm to completely cover the tip of the nail.  You may need to do this a few times before the bleeding stops.  The amount of bleeding depends on how far back you cut.  Do Not Panic!  This is not life threatening to your cat, it may just look a lot worse than it actually is.


How to Bathe your Cat

Fortunately cat’s do not require frequent bathing unless they get into something.  This is good news being most cats do not like water.  If your cat gets greasy, sticky orA-cat-sitting-under-an-umbrella stinky it will be time for a bath.  I recommend trimming your cat’s nails first.  Always use shampoos that are specifically made for cats.  Cats have a low tolerance for many things and using the wrong product on your cat can result in your cat becoming ill.


Things to do before the Bath

Gather up everything you will need for the bath before you begin.  You do not want to stop to go looking for something.  Here is a good checklist for you.

  • Bath mat
  • Sponge mat
  • Cat Shampoo
  • Cat Conditioner
  • Dawn dish soap if the hair is greasy
  • A flea comb if your cat has fleas
  • Towels
  • An extra person just in case you need more hands

Start by placing a rubber bath mat in the sink or tub, push down on it to make it secured to the surface.  Sponge mats that are used for babies work very well while bathing a cat.  It gives them something to sink their claws into instead of your arm.  If you don’t have a sponge mat you can use a towel.  I recommend using the kitchen sink, it’s easier for you to keep your cat confined to a small area than it is in a big tub.  Run the water to get it to the right temperature.  A cat’s normal temperature is 102ºF/39ºC.  To keep your cat comfy the water needs to be the same temp.  This may feel a bit warm to you but will feel great to your cat. 


Get Ready It’s Cat Bathing Time!

Now place your cat into the sink, place one hand firmly but gently on the back of the neck.  Do not let your cat turn over or face you,  keep his/her paws on the sponge. to-groom-a-cat they may need a bathThis may be a good time to have those extra hands.  Keep the water flow very low, start at the neck then down the back.  Never and I repeat never get your cat’s face wet with the faucet.  Make sure to completely wet your cat’s whole body before applying the shampoo.  Turn the water off and begin to shampoo, making sure to get the belly and butt area.  Allow the shampoo to sit according to the directions on the bottle then rinse. If your cat has fleas you can go over his fur with the flea comb to remove as many fleas as possible.  The rest will fall off as he dries.  Not all cats need conditioning.  Actually, most of the flakes you see on your cat’s skin is dead skin and not dry skin.  Cats have naturally built in oils to keep their fur from getting dry.  The only time a cat may need conditioning is if it is being bathed often.  


How to Clean the Face

Use a warm damp washcloth to clean the face, this can be done in or out of the sink.  Take the washcloth and gently rub the face to remove any dirt from under the eyes and around the mouth.  You can then use a flea comb to remove any other dirt that remained.


Drying your Cat

Never leave your cat dripping wet to dry off by themselves.  Wrap your cat in a dry towel and try to get as much water off as possible to avoid your cat from gettingcats-don't-like-being-wet chilled.  You may need to use several towels.  Once your cat is toweled dry they will still continue to lick until completely dry.  This may sound funny to use humans but cats look at water as a foreign object that is on them and they will continue to clean it off till it’s all gone. 


How to Clean your Cat’s Ears

Cleaning cats ears is a process that is overlooked by many until it’s too late and the ear gets an infection.  Before you begin to clean your cat’s ears look into the ear canalthe-ear-canal-of-a-cat for redness, pussy discharge, dark brown discharge and/or a bad smell.  If you notice any of these you will need to see your veterinarian for medical advice and the proper medications. I recommend you to make ear cleaning a part of your regular cat grooming routine.  Remember, groom a cat when they are in a good mood to make it easier on both of you.  As always gather everything you will need before you start.

What you will need

  • Ear Cleaner
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-Tips
  • Washcloth

You should know by now that cats tend to have strange reactions to some things.  To be on the safe side only use an ear cleaner made for cats.  Start by placing 6-10 drops into each ear.  Gently massage the base of the ear for 20-30 seconds.  Wipe out with a cotton ball then use the Q-Tip to clean out any remaining dirt.  Use the washcloth to wipe away any remaining ear cleaner that may have gotten onto your cat’s fur and around the base of the ear.  


Always reward your cat after every procedure with some love and a treat!

I hope you found this article about how to groom a cat to be helpful. If you have any questions please leave me a comment.

Happy Cat Grooming,



About Cathy

Animals are my passion in life. I am here to help you take care of your pet/pets. Educating yourself in pet care will lead to a happier healthier pet and that is something we all want!

6 comments on “How to Groom a Cat – The Basics of Cat Grooming

  1. Hi Cathy,
    Great information.
    I love the way you have explained and detailed what to use on the cats.
    My daughter has a cat he is so loving and always visits my garden, we definitely have a bond and he seems to sense when i am in the garden, such a great companion as i am sure you will agree.
    I never knew brushing stimulates growth that is really useful to know :). I am going to buy him a brush now, that is if he lets me brush him.
    In the summer he seems to suffer from fleas, what would you suggest to use?, my daughter has used a
    powder before and he really does not like it.
    It would be helpful if you had some info on that.
    Once again really good information it is pretty PUURFECT for cat lovers, pardon the pun, it had to be done.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Glad you found this article to be helpful. I recommend using a topical flea treatment like Advantage. I’m also in the middle of writing an article about flea prevention so please come back to check it out. Thank you for visiting my site.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      I’m happy you found this site to be interesting. Keep coming back because I have a lot more information to add.

  2. Hi, I absolutely love your website, Im a huge cat lover and have two cats of my own. Both of them love a good brush, only when they feel like it mind you. I always have gone to the vets for them to clip my cats claws as ive had a bad experience of cutting to close and it does look a lot worse than it really is, I can vouch for that. Thnaks again.

    1. Hi Rob,

      I’m so glad you loved my site and it’s nice to meet another cat lover. Yes, it’s always best to groom cat’s on their say so lol! Unfortunately, some cat owners learn this the hard way. You can try to trim your cats claws at home again if you just watch out not to trim too much off. You only want to trim the tips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.