The basics of kitten grooming
Why do you need to groom a kitten?
Cats and kittens are well-known for their cleanliness and grooming abilities, but as an owner there are times when you may need to step in and help.
As well as supporting your kitten's hygiene, grooming is a great way to familiarize yourself with their healthy skin, coat, eyes, ears, and teeth. This will allow you to recognize when something may be cause for concern.
Introducing your kitten to grooming from an early age can be a great bonding experience for you and your new pet. Your kitten will also grow accustomed to being handled, which will make grooming less stressful for them, and calmer for you in the future.
How to brush a kitten
While kittens can often manage their own grooming routine, regular brushing can remove any loose hair and dirt build-up that could otherwise cause hairballs.
The appropriate frequency of brushing and necessary tools will depend on the type of coat.
Particular attention should be paid to the areas behind the ears, and under the chin and paws. These are the places where mats are most frequent and are very difficult to unravel once formed
Weekly brushing will be enough to maintain a short-haired coat. First, use a grooming glove to gently massage against the direction of your kitten's coat, removing any dead hair, skin, or debris. After this, use a soft brush to gently ease out any tangles.
Mid-length and long hair
Conditioning sprays may be useful to help prevent mats in breeds with dense coats, such as the Norwegian Forest cat or Maine Coon.
Giving your kitten a bath
An important part of your kitten's grooming routine, particularly if they have a mid-length or long-haired coat, is giving them a bath.
Kittens are known to be quite sensitive, so it's important to introduce them to the experience gently, making sure they are as comfortable as possible at all points. This should avoid negative behaviors around bathing in the future, and reduce stress for your kitten.
How to bathe a kitten
- Wet your kitten with a sponge to start with, praising them as you do. If they don't react well, stop and try again a few days later until they are used to the process
- When your kitten is ready, run the bath with lukewarm, relatively shallow water - this should come up to your kitten's shoulders when standing
- Calmly and gently introduce your kitten to the water. Cats are very sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements, and any disruption could scare them
- Allow your kitten to settle into the water, again reassuring and praising them for their behavior
- Gently wet your kitten, avoiding their eyes and ears. Massage shampoo into their coat, paying close attention to their tail, chest, and legs
- Rinse away all of the shampoo by pouring water over your kitten's back. If you're rinsing their head it's better to use a damp sponge or your hand, taking care around the eyes and ears
How to dry a kitten's coat
Once clean, take your kitten out of the bath and wrap them in a fresh, warm towel. Pat them down gently, starting with the stomach and then moving over the back, tail, and head.
If you wish to use a hairdryer, it's important to make sure the air is not too hot or cold, and that the noise doesn't startle your kitten. Never use a hairdryer on your kitten's head. Instead gently massage the area with a dry towel.