5 Tips for Grooming Your Cat

Regularly grooming your cat is important to their daily health – and it makes for a great bonding experience between the two of you.

Apr 10, 2024By Ryan Brennan
tips for grooming your cat

When cats aren’t sleeping or playing, chances are they’re grooming. It’s one of their favorite things to do and is a large reason why they’re considered some of the cleanest, most hygienic animals in the world.

In fact, they spend roughly 30-50% of their day cleaning themselves, and they do so in various ways.

It might seem like they don’t need any help, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem is that most cat owners don’t know how to groom a cat properly. Don’t worry – that’s what I’m here for!

Why Is Cat Grooming So Important?

orange cat brush head

Cat grooming helps your cat maintain the health of their coat, reduce hairballs, prevent dental problems, improve skin health, regulate body temperature, detect parasites (fleas, mites, etc.), and boost mood.

Of course, it also helps your cat look its best – and makes for quite the bonding experience!

While this is true for all cat breeds, long-haired cats stand to benefit the most from regular grooming sessions because they’re at an increased risk of hair matting and other potential health problems.

How to Groom a Cat at Home

wet cat towel licking paw

As a general rule of thumb, we should groom long-haired cats daily, medium-haired cats every other day, and short-haired cats weekly – but use your best judgment because all cats are different and unique.

Some cats like getting brushed, while others don’t. The same goes for baths, trimming their nails, brushing their teeth, and whatever else you add to your daily, weekly, and/or monthly cat care routine.

If you’re new to grooming a cat at home, don’t worry – I have five tips to help you make this a memorable and fun experience for both you and your cat. So, grab those trimmers and brushes, and let’s get started!

1. Bathing Your Cat

wet orange cat bath

Bathing your cat is one of the hardest things you’ll do as a cat parent, but don’t worry – most cats only need to be bathed in extreme situations, like when they are covered in dirt, grime, or something sticky.

This is especially true for outdoor cats and long-haired cats.

You can bathe your cat in the sink, bathtub, or dog wash area – if you have one. I suggest finding an unscented, cat-friendly shampoo and placing a mat or towel in the bottom of the sink to give it traction.

Also, make sure you brush them first and gather all of your supplies beforehand.

I like to run the water on top of their heads and down their backs to avoid getting anything in the cat’s eyes or ears. Use shampoo sparingly, dry your cat as best as possible, and make sure you reward them!

2. Brushing Your Cat

owner brushing black cat

If you’ve ever taken a close look at your cat’s tongue, you’ll notice it has tiny hooks of papillae spikes on it. These tiny spikes act like a natural comb (or brush), which is why your cat licks itself so often.

Even with this ability, your cat can use some help.

By brushing your cat daily, you’re removing debris and/or dead hair from its coat. Without your help, that debris and/or dead hair will either end up on the floor, on your couch, or as a hairball out of its mouth.

Just keep in mind that not all cats enjoy a good brush.

That’s why I recommend brushing them from a young age – that way, they can grow used to it. I also like to brush my cat during down time – when they’re relaxed, in a good mood, and about to fall asleep.

3. Trimming Your Cat’s Claws

white black cat trim nails

Indoor cats need their claws trimmed every few weeks, while outdoor cats only need them trimmed a couple of times per year. Kittens may need a trimming every week, but older cats can wait a little longer.

What’s important is that you know how to do it properly.

Get yourself (and your cat) in a comfortable position. Gently press down on the top of the cat's paw to expose the nail. Only cut the white part of the nail; avoid the pink, as this can cause pain and bleeding.

Your veterinarian can give you a good demonstration at your next visit.

Cutting at a 45-degree angle and only cutting a little at a time will make the experience much easier for you and your cat. Just make sure you reward them when you’re done – they deserve a little treat!

4. Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

orange kitten brushing teeth

If you plan on giving your cat the ultimate spa day, don’t forget about their dental health – it’s just as important as anything else! It’s a process that takes some time to master, but your cat will appreciate it.

I recommend going through the process in phases.

Start by gently rubbing your fingers across their teeth and manipulating their mouth. Once they feel comfortable with that, transition to using a cotton swab and then introduce the cat-friendly toothpaste.

Once they graduate from that, bring in the kitty toothbrush.

As always, make sure you have treats nearby so you can reward your cat for its patience. It’s not the most pleasurable experience for the cat, but it’ll pay dividends in the long term – and that’s what matters.

5. Wipe Away Eye Discharge & Drool

orange cat eye discharge

So far, your cat has taken a bath, had its hair and nails done, and had its teeth cleaned – the only thing we’re missing is a quick facial! And that means wiping all those eye boogies and drool marks away.

But take note of how often (and severe) they appear.

Mild eye discharge is expected in cats, but excessive discharge could be a sign of eye disease, which would require a vet visit. The same goes for excessive drooling, as it could be a sign of a health issue.

Take note of their ear health while you’re at it.

A cat’s ears should be pink and clean, with no smell and minimal (if any) wax. If you notice any discharge coming from your cat’s ear, schedule an appointment with your vet – it could be mites or an infection.

Ryan Brennan
By Ryan Brennan

Ryan is a content writer with 10+ years of experience in the field. He is the proud owner of a white domestic short-haired cat with black spots named Jaxx - he looks like a cow, but acts and sounds like a cat. They enjoy doing laps around the house with a laser pointer and snuggling when it’s time for bed. Ryan hopes to give Jaxx a puppy friend someday.