By Sari Reis
As a professional pet sitter, one of the questions I ask potential clients at the consultation appointment is, “Does your cat like to be brushed?” About 15 percent say “yes,” another 20 percent say “no,” and the other 65 percent have said, “Never tried to brush the kitty.”
With so many feline pet parents not aware of the need to brush their cat, I decided to share the important benefits derived from performing regular brushing on your furry feline, short-haired as well as long-haired.
Benefit No. 1: We all know cats shed and since indoor cats shed year-round, they constantly have dead hair embedded in their coats. This dead hair needs to be removed as well as dust, dirt, fleas (if they have any), etc. According to WebMD, a metal comb should be used for short-haired cats from head to tail, working in the direction of the lie of the fur. If permitted, comb the chest and abdomen as well.
Benefit No. 2: Since most cats are meticulous groomers, they lick themselves frequently. If you do not remove the dead hair, dust and dirt by brushing them, this grime will be ingested every time they lick themselves. This can cause fur balls, which are not good for the cat or for those of us who have to clean them up off the carpets or floors.
Benefit No. 3: By brushing your feline regularly, you spread their natural oils throughout their fur while at the same time, increasing blood circulation. This keeps your kitty’s skin healthy and also gives your pet a shiny coat.
Benefit No. 4: Long-haired cats need grooming every few days to prevent tangles and mats. Matting can cause all kinds of problems, including pain, infections and more. While brushing, look for bumps, tangles and fleas. If you find any fleas, treat the problem immediately. Bumps may need to be seen by a veterinarian. If your kitty develops large mats, they should be removed by a professional groomer.
Benefit No. 5: Many kitties really enjoy being brushed. It is relaxing for them, like getting a massage. It can be particularly helpful in reducing stress if the cat enjoys it.
Benefit No. 6: Brushing your kitty on an ongoing basis is a great way for you to bond. It creates a physical connection between you beyond simply petting your pet. For many older cats or cats with mobility issues, brushing is even more important as they may not be able to groom themselves properly.
Cats being cats, they are very suspicious of anything new, so if you have never brushed your feline before, take it slowly. Experiment with different brushes to find the one your cat likes best. Begin slowly for short periods of time. Make sure your cat is relaxed when you start and stop as soon as your pet lets you know enough is enough. Give treats for being good and remember, this is supposed to be a positive experience for both of you.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.