There’s a common misconception that ‘cats clean themselves so why bother taking them to a feline groomer’? Not to mention the special skills and expertise required to make the grooming experience positive and relaxing! Truth is, you do need to groom your cat.
Cats have moved into our homes with consummate ease. They share our lives – and our city pollution! Add to that the variable climate, disrupted pollen distribution and the increased frequency of mega-fires. (Did you know that smoke particles from Australia’s 2019 fires were found in Argentina’s atmosphere?) That’s enough to make you start wondering exactly what is sticking to your cat’s fur. And remember, she only has a little tongue to clean all her hair with.
3 Reasons Why Cats Need Regular Professional Grooms
There are three reasons why your feline friend might need a spa day on a regular basis.
- The first is because Sydney is getting stickier – warm weather, more pollen plus diesel fumes create almost a glue that descends upon the cat (even those kept indoors) and makes it hard for a cat to clean herself as her saliva gets sticky and dry while grooming, which makes even more grot stick on her coat!
- The second reason is Too Much Hair – as gorgeous fluffy kittens, they are being kept clean by the Queen and the breeder. However, once they are out on their own, it is a much bigger problem. Many long-haired cats only reach their full coat around 3 years old, and that’s when they can no longer cope on their own. You or your feline fabulous groomer need to step in and take over the coat care.
- The third reason is arthritis. We used to think cats didn’t get arthritis (I remember being taught that at University last century!); but of course, back then we didn’t know what arthritis looks like in a cat. Cats can walk on the flat very well even with advanced arthritis and very little effort because of their (purr-fect) skeletal design. So, it may be just a subtle change – from sailing effortlessly into the air, to a hesitation before jumping up or jumping down, or a ‘grumpier’ cat. Or one that has ‘tufty knots’ forming, particularly around the back end and along the spine. And it can start as young as 3 years old (who knew?).
You know that grey stuff that sticks to fans and air vents? Or the black stuff you wipe off your face each day? That stuff is sticking to your cat’s coat and she has to lick it off. And a lot of it is quite irritant to cats’ mouths, even causing a mild burn and tonsilitis in some cats. As the coat gets get stickier, the coat cannot act as an insulator against the heat – the air spaces that do that job get compressed and the cat stops moving much as they get too hot too quickly. Most cats are ‘solar powered’ and love to spend time in the sun, so they become more likely to get heat stroke.
Ragdoll cats in particular seem to be most irritated by the sticky fumes of the city, and their coats matt up (particularly in the armpits and groin) and then it becomes painful so they won’t allow grooming. So, the next step is rapidly spreading mats that can go all over the cat in only a few days. Even plain Domestic Long Hair cats get sticky and Domestic Short Hair cats can end up with baldness from pulling out the irritating hair.
Other long-haired cats like Maine Coons and Persians also get sticky coats but they don’t matt up as much. They do get very hot in Sydney summers though and are much happier with less hair after a clip. Birmans have less undercoat and can cope OK, but as Sydney gets warmer and stickier, even they appreciate a clip out and deep cleanse in warm weather.
Siberian cats vary with how they cope with long hair, some matting from quite young, others only getting into trouble as they age. Norwegian Forest cats similarly seem to be OK mostly. However, most of them have more hair than they need as summer wears on.
Surprisingly, the British Short Hair also needs help; their undercoat is so dense, it traps the heat as it is designed to do, but this makes the Aussie Brit too hot. The Exotics (Persian crossed with British short Hair) have the same dense-coat problem and appreciate a groomer taking their coat off for summer.
This is a big deal and VERY common (up to 90% of cats have arthritis by the age of 10 years, and likely up to 30% by 3 years old). When it becomes too uncomfortable for even the most fastidious (even if short-haired) cat to lick themselves regularly, the dead hair starts to ‘pile up’ as tufts, again trapping heat, but also just tugging uncomfortably on the skin.
Many old cats just seem to freeze up with arthritis and give up grooming altogether. A fresh new cat emerges from the clip and clean. As an extra bit of help, some medications from their vet (or the groomer can suggest some good supplements for joints) and your elderly feline friend might just start jumping on your lap again!
And one more thing: all the various types of matts mean your cat cannot clean the skin under the matts, creating skin problems and quite likely feeling itchy all the time. Add in one or two fleas (which soon become a nest of them, invincible in the matt) and that is pretty much the epitome of feline misery.
For more questions, please contact Dr Kim Kendall, Cat Vet, Behaviourist & cat grooming expert @ the Chatswood Cat Palace
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