ASK THE EXPERT: GROOMING

Do you have a question about your cat for our cat grooming expert? Questions may be sent to editor@catscenterstage.org.

Our grooming experts regret that they cannot answer all individual questions. We will post a selection on this page.

NOTE: Please consult your veterinarian if you believe your cat is ill or in need of medical care. This forum is for general information only and should not be considered a substitute for professional veterinary care.

Senior Kitty Needs Grooming But Hates the Car!

Q: Just a quick question and I hope you can help me. My almost 13 year old tabby cat is all of a sudden getting mats in her fur. She hates going in the car, so I am reluctant about taking her to the vet or to the groomer. Is there any way I avoid putting her thru a stressful car ride to the vet clinic? Thank you in advance for your assistance.

- Briget

A: Hi Briget -In addition to the fact your cat hates car rides, at her age you don't want to put her under undue physical and emotional stress. Check with a local pet grooming shop or mobile pet grooming service to see about a groomer coming to you and working on your girl in the comfort of familiar surroundings, or at least in a mobile grooming van just steps from your front door. Depending on the severity of the matting, she may need to be shaved so her fur has a chance to grow in tangle-free, but then you will need to be sure she is brushed and combed every day as the coat returns.

As she gets older, her fur is beginning to reflect her age and possibly some internal or dietary concerns so she should be checked by a veterinarian to assess her general health. There may be a veterinarian in your area willing to make a house call and save your cat from the stress of leaving her home. If not, a veterinarian may be able to prescribe a mild tranquilizer which would relax your girl and make her unaware of being taken in a car to the veterinary hospital. You are obviously concerned about her well-being ... good luck!

Nail Clipping: Winning the Battle

Q: I guess I've already been pushed around by my cat! He is no longer a kitten so I hope it is not too late to break old patterns. I can only manage to clip a few claws at a time before he runs off and am usually only successful when he's half asleep. I'm very careful about how much I'm clipping and need to keep a constant watch because he has extra claws that could grow inward. Any suggestions?

- Matilda

A: Hi Matilda- You point out that it is best to start "good habits" at an early age, and now your adult cat has the upper paw (so to speak!) when having his nails clipped. If you have someone who can help you, the best way to do this is by putting him on his back on your lap between your thighs. With his head at your knees, have your assistant hold the cat firmly by the nape or "scruff" of his neck with one hand and the front paws with the other hand while you trim the back claws first. If your assistant is talented with restraint, s/he might be able to hold three legs at a time! Switch holds accordingly as you finish each paw.

You seem to already know not to cut the claws below the level of the "quick," or blood supply area to the claws. You also mention "extra claws?" If your cat has more than four toes on the back paws and more than five on the front then he is a "polydactyl" - just like the colony of cats on Ernest Hemingway's historical property on Key West! Who knows ... maybe your guy is a relative? Extra toes does mean extra work on your part, and it is very important to not let the claws get long enough to grow into the toe pads.

If you have no one to help you do this, you may be able to hold the cat on your lap as described above, but firmly hold the scruff of his neck between your knees. You can then put a towel over his front legs and wrap it under your knees on both sides, in effect creating a bit of a straight-jacket situation for him which will immobilize him and allow you to trim the back paws first. You would then move the towel to hold his back legs in place while you do the front. If you need help, a visit to your local pet grooming shop should find someone available to help you clip your cat's claws for a small fee. Of course, a veterinarian would do the same for you but likely for the price of an office visit.

Ouch! My Longhaired Cat Has Mats in Her Fur!

Q: My longhaired cat has places all over her where the hair has clumped into big lumpy mats. I've tried cutting them off, but some of them seem attached to her skin. Sometimes we'll find one or two that have fallen out on the floor.
Someone told me I need to take the cat in to be shaved, then make sure I brush her hair every day when it grows out. Does this sound right? Is this something a groomer in a local pet store can do? Does it hurt the cat?
This is a strictly indoor cat--about 8 years old--we have never experienced this problem before. Any help will be appreciated.

- Eva

A: Hi Eva - You have gotten good advice about your longhaired cat. With clumpy hair all over her body, she should be taken to a professional groomer and be shaved. This is much safer than trying to remove the clumps yourself with scissors. Shaving doesn't hurt the cat at all ... if your cat has a calm nature, a groomer should be able to work with her very well to remove the clumps and make her body smooth all over. She will also get a bath and be clean and comfortable afterwards. If she is upset or threatening, she may need to be lightly sedated. Check with your veterinarian if this is the case.

Summertime is a very good time to accomplish this task, and you will be amazed how quickly her fur will grow back. It will then be up to you to continue to keep her brushed every day once she gets "furry" again so the mats don't return. You might be surprised by a change in personality for the positive and wish to have her shaved twice or three times a year ... many cats really do enjoy this kind of haircut!

Have you had her checked by a veterinarian recently? Since you say this has never happened before, you might wish to get a thorough examination of your girl to be sure there are not any internal issues which might be causing her fur to clump as you describe.

Daily grooming with a slicker brush and/or metal comb is always necessary for any longhair or semi-longhair cat and when kept up will leave them soft, sleek and beautiful as they deserve to be.

What Are the Black Dots on My Cat's Chin?

Q: What is the tiny, grainy black stuff under my cat Chui's chin? Is it just dirt, bacteria or...? I know it's not flea eggs. How can I clean it or get it off?

- Don

A: Hi Don -

It is best to check with your veterinarian to determine the cause of your cat's dirty chin. It may be a case of feline acne, which if it worsens, could create pustules or draining sores. If you see no broken skin on Chui's chin, you may try to clean it by rubbing a small amount of mild strength hydrogen peroxide over the area on a cotton ball. This will not only clean the skin but might dry it out a bit and allow the skin to recover. You might also try rubbing a small amount of a 1% hydrocortisone cream into his chin for a week and see if you notice an improvement. Or, apply a bit of boric acid powder or cornstarch to the area, which will also help it keep dry and help remove any staining which might be present.

Sometimes cats have an allergy to plastic food bowls ... if Chui is currently eating and drinking from plastic bowls, try changing to ceramic or metal bowls to see if this helps.

If the black crusty lesions continue to return, then checking with a veterinarian is your best bet to find the source of Chui's chronic skin condition or to determine a potential a food or environmental allergy.

About Our Grooming Expert: Susan Cook Henry has shown Persian cats under the cattery name "Jadon" since 1965. "Persians have been part of my life since I was born," Susan says. "My mother purchased a Blue Persian as a young girl when living in London, where her Air Force father and family were stationed after the war. A friend introduced Mom to the world of show cats in 1960. She took me to my first cat show that year, and I was fascinated!" Since the mid-1960's, Susan and her mother, Donna Cook, have shown nearly 100 grand champions, and their Persians have earned multiple national titles. To date, "Jadon" is the only cattery to have bred and shown cats to Kitten of the Year, Premier of the Year and Cat of the Year honors. Another top achievement was garnered in 2006 when a Jadon blue Persian was named "Best-in-Show" at the prestigious CFA International "Cat-Minster" show.
Susan prides herself in the meticulous preparation, bathing and daily grooming necessary to show top-quality cats. Many of the same principles she applies to her Persians can be used on several breeds of cats, and are useful on domestic felines as well.

 


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