DIY Cat Grooming: A Crash Course

With the right approach, you and your cat will share a special bond during grooming.


Although cats do an amazing job of keeping themselves clean, grooming them has its perks. Not only will it help you and your pet bond — it will also save you some money!

Start the grooming process early. Younger cats are more likely to accept this mission of love on your part. Touching, petting and showing your cat you love her will go a long way in building her trust in you when it comes to her grooming needs.


With the right approach (patience and short grooming periods in the beginning), you and your pet will share a special bond.

Every cat is an individual whose grooming needs are different. Shorthaired cats as well as longhaired cats need grooming — shorthairs just require a bit less maintenance. Longhaired pets, such as Persians, demand a little more time to maintain their maintain their amazing coats. Common sense tells us that the more hair we have, the harder it is to take care of.

So, cat lovers across the world, are you ready for a crash course in cat grooming? OK, let’s get started.


Because cats are self-groomers, there is no need to bathe yours too often. (Factor in that most cats do not like baths, so wear long sleeves for protection from those claws!)

Unfortunately, sometimes allergies, greasy coats and plain old dirt seem to holler out “It’s bath time!”

Dawn dishwashing liquid is a good degreaser, maybe followed up with a pet-formulated shampoo. Protect your kitty’s ears with cotton balls. Wet her down with warm water and lather on some diluted Dawn (1 tablespoon per 2 cups of water), working all over the body except the face. Rinse, then repeat with the shampoo. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, until there are no suds.

Don’t Miss: Petful’s report on the best shampoos



A big advantage to brushing your cat is hairball prevention. The loose hair will be picked up as you brush, and this will help stop your kitty from eating his fur. Preventing and reducing shedding is another advantage of brushing.

Other supplies, besides a brush, you might consider:

  • A sturdy, stainless steel combs with wide-set teeth
  • A slicker brush (It has bristles that look like bent nails. Most cats enjoy the sensation of either of these, unless a tangle is hit — ouch!)
  • Some cats may prefer a grooming mitt, sometimes known as a “love glove.” Fitting over your whole hand, it allows you to work a larger area while petting your cat. This glove is just as effective as the brush and also stops hairballs from forming.
  • Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus

As for brushing your cat, move slowly from head to tail. Brushing back to front can damage the fur. Never brush the face or paws — chances are Fluffy would never again be coaxed into another grooming session. Use a gentle tone of voice and tender loving care when brushing.

Brush as often as needed to keep shedding and matting to a minimum. Combing and brushing stimulates the skin and keeps the coat clean and healthy. Shorthairs should be combed or brushed at least once a week, while longhaired cats need this type of grooming perhaps every other day.

In spring or fall, cats go through a heavy shedding period. Matting is the result of the shedded hair not being removed. The mats gradually get bigger and pull on the skin, causing discomfort to the cat. Before you put scissors to the hair, please read Kristine’s expert advice on dealing with mats in longhaired cats.


Fleas can be a problem in some locations, especially if your cat is around dogs or other cats. Although they can be treated with medicines or shampoos, it is best to confer with your veterinarian on which is the best choice for your situation, especially when dealing with fleas on young kittens.

Consider buying a flea comb. For outdoor cats or those that live in a “flea climate” like Florida or Louisiana, this would be a good investment. These combs look like metal combs but have very fine teeth that are close-set. Flea combs work well for touch-ups after using the metal comb or slicker brush.


Nails are perhaps the scariest part of grooming. Trimming the claws regularly will keep them healthy and free from dirt and infections. Routine maintenance on nails will also protect your furniture from sharp claws.

Cleaning the Eyes

Breeds such as Persians can encounter eye matter buildup. Using a soft washcloth or a cotton ball dipped in water, hold your cat’s head and gently wipe across her lower eyelids.

Once the moisture softens the eye matter, wipe again, using a fresh section of the cloth each time, until the matter is gone. Do not rub the eyeball directly.

Check the Ears

Fold the ear back and use a clean cotton ball to wipe the visible part of the ear. Be sure to clean the folds, where wax can build up. Do not venture into the ear canal.

If there is a crusty look, bad odor or excess of debris visible, discuss this with your veterinarian. Ear mites, if found, can be easily treated with medicines prescribed by a vet.

Teeth Cleaning

Yes, you can brush the teeth between veterinary dental checkups (suggested annually). To get your cat used to your dental hygiene sessions, place a gauze around your finger and dip it in tuna water. gently rub your cat’s teeth with the gauze.

Repeat this “cleaning” often so kitty will be at ease with this procedure. Remember to praise her while slowly brushing . Once she starts liking this routine, it’s time for the real thing — toothpaste and a toothbrush designed just for a cat.

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While patience (and courage) are probably the key ingredients in successful DIY cat grooming, I have to say that a lot of love and a little purr-aying may be just as important. Happy grooming!


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