If you have a cat then you know that one of their daily rituals is thorough self-cleaning. But what happens when they get older and are no longer able to? Here, our Thornton vets talk about senior cat grooming and how you can help them clean and prevent matted hair.
Grooming Your Senior Cat
While the fact that our feline friends are living longer and well into their golden years is wonderful news for any pet parent, it also means that there will be more assistance and changes to your cat's care that may be necessary. Due to a decrease in self-grooming, you may notice that your senior cat's fur becomes more frequently disheveled and matted.
While many cats may continue to groom themselves as normal for the duration of their life, it is important to recognize when your cat may need help with this task. Cats are usually quite particular about staying well groomed so if your senior cat is no longer doing so then it will be time to look into the underlying cause behind this change.
What is the Cause of Matted Fur in Senior Cats?
Matted hair can happen when your senior cat no longer keeps up with grooming themselves as well as normal changes to their body affecting their hair. Some of the most common causes are:
Dental Issues Causing Pain
If your senior cat is no longer grooming their fur as well then the first thing you may want to inspect is their mouth. Check to see if your cat is experiencing any sort of oral concerns that may be causing discomfort. If your cat is suffering from dental disease or damage to their teeth or gums then they may avoid cleaning in order to avoid further pain. Cats should be visiting the vet for routine dental care, if it has been awhile or if you notice anything concerning when checking their mouth then you should contact your vet right away to schedule a dental examination.
Degenerative Joint Disease Making Movement Difficult
If your cat is experiencing a physical condition causing pain then they will be unlikely to be able to move their body in such a way to complete thorough grooming. One of the most common conditions affecting cats is osteoarthritis while nearly all senior cats suffer from some type of degenerative joint disease.
Urinary, Bladder and Kidney Issues Causing Soiled Fur
When cats age they may also begin to have issues with cleaning themselves up once they have finished in the litter box. Senior cats may also be experiencing issues such as urinary tract infections, which can be uncomfortable and cause frequent urination.
One of the issues seen in senior cats is caused by them standing in the litter that is soiled with highly concentrated urine which will clump and become stuck in their paws and fur. If this is an issue that frequently affects your cat then you may want to consider requesting a sanitary trim while at the vet or groomer in order to reduce the chance of this occurring.
Why is Grooming Your Senior Cat Important?
Once you are aware that your senior cat is no longer grooming properly and that they are starting to experience matted hair you should contact your vet to have your cat examined. This will allow your vet to get to the bottom of the underlying issue that is affecting their ability to self-groom and allow room for a potential solution.
Once you know what the problem is the vet help you decide on a treatment plan for the underlying issue and a grooming plan while everything gets back to normal.
If the issue is not addressed, the fur will continue to mat which will cause subsequent problems such as pain and bruising due to the pulling of the hair as it becomes twisted.
You should never put off grooming especially if you see that the fur is in need, this will only make things worse when you do decide to complete the task. If you partake in regular grooming sessions with your cat then you should avoid a larger overwhelming grooming situation. If you are finding that the task of grooming is too much for you to handle then you should look into the services of a professional groomer in order to make your life easier while keeping your senior cat comfortable.
How Should You Groom Your Senior Cat?
In order to make the grooming process as easy as possible you should regularly groom on a daily basis. Here are some steps for how to easily groom your senior cat:
- Pet your cat from head to tail covering all sides of their body, looking for any potential matted hair or issues.
- Work your way through their fur using a rubber brush, using more specialized brushes for any problem areas.
- Spend a little more time in the areas of the underside, hips and hind legs. This is where you re most likely to find matted hair. Be sure to brush slowly and gently through these sections.
- If you discover any mats in your senior cat's hair then you can apply a little cornstarch and work the matted fur out. Using cornstarch will help to provide a grip on the hair.
- If you discover matted hair on your cat that you cannot work out yourself then you should schedule a visit with a groomer as soon as possible.
One of the important things to remember when you decide to groom your cat is the location you choose to complete this task. You should choose an area of the home that is calm and quiet as well as somewhere that allows for easy cleanup of any rogue fur. Be sure to have plenty of treats and offer many pets to keep this a positive experience.
What Tools Are Needed For Cat Grooming?
Some of the tools that you may find useful while grooming your senior cat are:
- A cat flea comb
- Nail clippers
- Cotton pads to clean sensitive areas around the face
- Pet detangling spray
- a sturdy bristle brush
If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, including self-grooming changes you should contact your vet right away to have your cat examined.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.