08 Feb Routine Grooming
When your kitten is young, this is the time to get her/him accustomed to anything and everything that we’ll want to do throughout his/her lifetime.
It is very important that you spend time brushing your kitten’s haircoat daily. For all cats a brush called a slicker brush is ideal – they have wire bristles that are very effective in removing loose hair. A comb is another good grooming tool especially for longhaired cats.
Brushing your kitten’s coat is important for many reasons. It increases circulation to the skin, which helps promote healthy skin and fur. It removes loose hair and this helps to prevent hairballs and blockages from hair. This also helps to decrease the amount of hair that you will find around your house.
Although it may sound funny, you should get your kitten used to having her teeth brushed. The teeth should be brushed daily to twice weekly. Brushing with a non-fluoride paste is advisable as kittens will swallow the paste, unlike humans, and the fluoride can make them sick. Start with just your finger on your kittens’ teeth and gums. Try this when he/she is resting and peaceful instead of during playtime. You are more likely to be successful and your fingers will appreciate it! Once the kitten is used to your fingers, you can use some paste on your finger, possibly move to a piece of gauze with paste on it or move directly to a small kitten brush with paste. Brushing action is the same as with our teeth – from the gumline down on the top teeth and from the gumline up on the bottom teeth. The insides of the teeth are often very difficult to reach; the tongue tends to “brush” them as well. So if you are only able to do the outside surfaces, that’s fine. The farthest back teeth are the most difficult to reach, but they tend to build-up tartar more quickly and therefore particular attention should be given to these teeth.
Although this can be a difficult habit to establish with kittens – it is easier at a younger age. Persistence is the key as it is with many things in life!! The rewards that will be enjoyed by your pet include healthy, clean teeth and gums. Tartar build-up on the teeth is a source for bacteria and causes gum disease as well. Furthermore, you will appreciate your pet’s breath much more when it is fresh. Routine brushing, along with prophylactic dental cleanings, are the key to good oral hygiene with your pet.
Nail trimming should also be initiated at a young age. Instruction will be given on this during your kitten’s health exam, as well as a complimentary nail trim. Then there is a little homework to do. Play with your kitten’s feet while he/she is resting or sleeping to get him/her accustomed to having the feet held. Hold your kitten frequently as if you are going to trim nails, then just let her/him go. Bring your nail trimmers out and get your kitten used to the sight and sound of them so that they do not cause stress whenever the kitten sees them.
With nail trimming remember to be aware of where the “pink triangle” or “quick” is – these are the blood vessels that supply the nail. Trim close to but never in this sensitive area. If you do happen to get too close, it’s okay – becoming stressed will transfer to the kitten – remain calm. Unless you cut quite deeply into the “quick”, there is not likely to be any blood with kittens or cats. If bleeding does occur, place pressure on it and use one of the many commercially available products to stop the bleeding. Kwik-stop powder is one of the easiest to use – we use this at Vetcetera. Nails should be trimmed routinely every 3-4 weeks.
Remember that lots of praise for good behavior is important. Treats can also be given while you are attempting to introduce new habits.
We understand that new habits are not always easy to establish – it does take time and effort which in our busy lives is not always easy to find. But once the routines are established it takes only minutes a day to perform them. We’re sure your pet will enjoy the benefits of your time and effort….and will be healthier and happier because of it.