Cats can be so meticulous about grooming that they often put our human grooming habits to shame. But that doesn’t mean cats don’t need regular brushing, nail trimming and, in some cases, bathing. There’s only so much your kitty can do on her own to keep her coat and nails in pristine condition. She needs your help, so it’s time to get over any nerves you may have about using a hairbrush, nail trimmer or shampoo on your cat. To make this easier for you and your kitty, we’ve answered some of your most common questions about grooming cats.  

Question: Do cats really need baths?
Answer: Cats are known for their fastidious grooming, so why would they ever need a bath? Well, there are many reasons. Your cat could be older, arthritic or overweight and have trouble reaching certain spots on her body. She could get depressed or sick and not groom herself as often as she should. What if your kitty encounters something stinky? Or what if you have allergic guests coming over and need a way to reduce your cat's dander? Your best bet is to get your cat used to taking baths from a young age. Follow our step-by-step instructions for a safe and low-stress kitty bath time.

Question: Can I prevent my cat from coughing up hair balls?
Answer: Cats can be so good at grooming themselves that the fur they swallow turns into a clump, called a trichobezoar (or hair ball), in their digestive tract. If you're lucky, the hair ball will come up (and you won't step in it). If not, you may have to take your cat to the vet to have it surgically removed. One way to help prevent (or at least reduce) hair balls is to brush your cat every day to remove excess fur. If that's not working, try these other tips

Question: How often do I need to groom my long-haired cat?
Answer: Persians, RagamuffinsSiberians and other medium-to-long-haired cats have gorgeous coats, but they usually don't come that way. Their coats need regular maintenance to prevent mats and hair balls. Whether you need to groom her coat daily, weekly or monthly will depend on the individual cat's needs. In general, the softer and more cottony your cat's coat, the more it will need to be brushed and groomed. If you have the time and are willing to make the effort, you can groom a long-haired cat at home. Otherwise, you should seek out a professional groomer. This is what you should look for in a groomer.

Question: Is it possible to trim my cat's nails without getting scratched?
Yes, you can usually trim your kitten or adult cat's nails without getting clawed. And the earlier you train her, the better. If you have a kitten, begin by teaching her to lie on her back. As she's lying on her back, feed her treats. Once she's comfortable lying on her back, get her used to having her paws handled by gently squeezing her paws while giving her treats. That way, she'll form a positive association with being handled. Progressively build up to actually using the trimmers when she's totally at ease with her paws being handled. Now, if you have an adult cat who is afraid of nail trims, it's not as easy. Mikkel Becker reveals how to trim a cat's nails — without the stress.

Question: How can I keep my cat's fur under control?
Answer: If your cat's fur is taking over your home, try to brush her every day. That way, her fur will stick to your brush not the floor or sofa. Plus, you won't have to vacuum up so many hair balls. From investing in slipcovers to keeping paws clean, Dr. Marty Becker shares a few more ways to keep pet fur in check.

Question: Can I use a human hairbrush on my cat?
It may seem convenient to use your own hairbrush on your cat, but it probably won't be very effective. Human hairbrushes brush only the top coat; they don't reach the undercoat. This is especially important for long-haired cats, who can develop mats if their dead undercoats aren't brushed away. You should use this type of grooming tool instead.

Question: Can I use dog shampoo on my cat?
Answer: In general, you should not use dog products on your cat. Dog shampoo that’s formulated to combat fleas can be risky for felines, even if it contains only natural ingredients to repel the parasites. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a cat-friendly shampoo. Don't let that deter you from shampooing your cat though; here are some reasons why she could benefit from a bath.
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