How often do you brush your cat? Once per day? Once per week? Cat tries to claw your face off so never bother? Cats need grooming and it’s not all DIY. Dr Emily Williams of Southern Cross Vet tells Pet Problems Solved why cat grooming shouldn’t be brushed aside…
Grooming is a very important aspect of feline health and is one which is often overlooked by cat owners and vets alike. Everyone knows that they should probably brush their cat regularly; but why?
1: Ingesting excess fur causes fur balls (or trichobezoars if you want to be fancy)
A cat’s tongue is designed to remove debris and old fur from their coat while passing it back towards the oesophagus and into the stomach. Being mostly indigestible, fur will either pass through the gastrointestinal tract uneventfully to be excreted in the faeces, or it will settle in the stomach and form a ball (or bezoar). Fur balls in themselves are not an issue and it is perfectly normal for a cat to expel one every now and then, however they can pose a threat to your cat’s health when they become too large to pass.
Large fur balls can block parts of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the exit of the stomach or the small intestine. This is a serious issue that requires major surgery, as ingested food cannot pass through the gastrointestinal tract and becomes stuck.
Signs of an obstruction include vomiting, diarrhoea or no poo, lethargy, a painful abdomen and fever.
To reduce the likelihood of fur balls, you can remove the excess fur from your cat’s coat with regular brushing. Brushing should be conducted in the direction of the fur growth using a good quality, gentle brush.
Brushes range from soft, fur-grabbing silicon brushes for everyday excess hair removal to fine wire combs for cats with long or dense coats. Ask your veterinarian which brush would suit your cat best!
2: It’s a bonding experience!
Grooming is a sign of relaxation, comfort and affection. You will notice that cats who live together will often groom each other as a sign of this affection (if they get along!). As such, regularly grooming your cat helps to strengthen the bond between owner and pet, which is obviously very important!
3: Mats are painful and can cause serious damage
Long-haired cats are more prone to developing mats in their coat, but that’s not to say that short-haired breeds are immune to these painful clumps of fur. Mats form when fur is not sufficiently groomed and are more likely to form in areas of rubbing or friction, such as under arms, below the ears and on the check/neck area. Mats that form around the base of the tail and the back of the hindlimbs are a serious health concern as urine and faeces can become trapped in and on the mat itself. Not only is this uncomfortable for cats (who are very clean creature by nature) but it can lead to serious wounds, infections and even maggots.
4: Detect anything abnormal
Perform regular checks on your cat to identify lumps, growths, wounds and sore spots. Contact your vet if you find anything concerning.
Author Bio: Emily Williams BVSC HONS
Dr Emily went to high school in south-west London and graduated from the University of Sydney in 2015. Having grown up with cats, Dr Emily has a particular affinity for them and has definitely earned the title of professional crazy cat lady. Dr Emily is the designer of the Lion’s Den cat hotel and works as a vet at Southern Cross Vet.