The chic look!
Groom while young: Accustom your kitten with the brush or whatever else you choose to groom with. Little kittens do not need much grooming care, but when they have been introduced to grooming while young, they will not struggle against it when they mature. Brushing should be done regularly and should be a pleasurable experience for both the cat and the pet parents.
Coat care: Regular coat care keeps the fur free of ticks and fleas, prevents the coat from matting and being tangled (which is very painful for the cat) and helps to remove dandruff flakes that develop when the cat renews the skin beneath the fur.
Twice yearly, when preparing for the summer and winter, your cat will thin or fill out his coat. This is less noticeable in cats who are kept indoors than those who live outside, but it nevertheless occurs. Brushing will remove the excess fur and at these times should be done daily; hairballs which form in the cat’s stomach when he swallows hair following self grooming can cause very serious health problems which is why brushing is so important.
Clip the nails: The front claws should be clipped as needed. There are several types of nail clippers available; be sure to get one suited for cats. The thin red line in the nail, the quick, is where the vein begins. Do not cut into this as it will be very painful for your pet and it will bleed. If you have not yet learned how to trim properly or if you are afraid of hurting your cat, just trim off the very tip where the nail is most pointed. Use an emery board (nail file) to smooth the tip down so it is not rough and can scratch you. Take the help of your vet to clip his nails.
Clean the ears: It is very important that you take great care of a cat’s ears. They should be wiped out with cotton and mineral oil occasionally. Mites can accumulate in the ears and the brown matter that you see is generally caused by mites which really need to be eradicated immediately. Your veterinarian can also show you the correct way to do this but you must be very careful and not push the cotton too deep into the ear drum. Never put anything into the ear canal. Cats’ ears are very sensitive, and you can do permanent damage or injury to your pet if you are careless about ear care.
Take care of the eyes: Cat’s eyes are generally kept clean by the cat himself unless they have an infection or disease which needs to be attended to. The matter that appears daily in the corners of the eye is usually cleaned by the cat but keep a watch to make sure that this does not build up and create a problem. Some cats are quite lazy about eye care and you need to help them to keep their eyes clean at all times.
Bathe him when he needs it: The best rule about bathing a cat is to only do so when the cat needs a bath. Longhairs need more bathing than the shorthaired cats do as they can pick up bits of rubbish and dust in their coat which becomes tangled and uncomfortable. Use a feline shampoo only. Wash your cat in warm water, using as little shampoo as possible, and make sure that you completely rinse the shampoo out. This may take 2-3 rinses so that shampoo does not build up in the coat. If too much shampoo is left on the coat then the skin oils dry out and the cat scratches a lot. Make sure you towel dry the cat thoroughly or he may catch a cold.
Cats should not be bathed and then allowed outside because the coat could still be a little damp and the cat will pick up a chill. It is best to do this inside in a warm room and keep the cat confined.
The general care and bathing of a long hair cat requires a lot of attention and owners need to get some information from owners who really know how to do this. Longhair cats need combing and brushing daily to keep their coats clean and sparkling. After bathing it takes some time to GENTLY comb out any tangles from the coat and then carefully brush the cat until it is completely dry and comfortable. Longhairs need more bathing than the shorthaired cats do as they can pick up bits of rubbish and dust in their coat which becomes tangled and uncomfortable. Always remember that a cute, fluffy kitten with a reasonably short coat, will grow into an adult with a long coat that needs a great deal more care than a shorthaired cat. Persians and all longhair cats make very affectionate companions but they do need to be groomed daily or you will be facing an unhappy cat with a matted and tangled coat.
It is one of the major responsibilities of a cat owner that they keep their cats clean, healthy and with sparkling, shiny coats. Think about tangles in your own hair and consider how uncomfortable this is for a cat.
(Joan Henderson is based in Australia and she has judged furry felines in many other countries including USA, Bermuda, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Philippines and New Zealand)