Keeping your kitten well groomed
Your new kitten’s good grooming guide
When it comes to grooming, kittens are fastidious; they learn how to keep themselves clean and tidy from their mothers. But occasionally, they may need a little help from you, and grooming your kitten gives you a great opportunity to make a fuss of her - she’ll enjoy every second! If your kitten has long hair, for example, she’ll need to be combed every day. This should be followed by gentle brushing, to prevent her fur from becoming tangled. Your vet will be happy to advise you on the right brush and comb for your kitten’s coat.
Short-haired kittens also need grooming occasionally. Use a soft brush to remove loose hair by drawing it slowly over her body from head to tail.
Cats tend to moult in spring and also to a lesser degree, in the summer and winter. So get your kitten accustomed to being regularly groomed from the start and you can prevent hairballs developing in her stomach, which can be a real nuisance.
Cats are meticulously clean by nature, so shouldn’t need bathing. But in the event of her getting really dirty, you’ll be able to give her a bath using a special, mild cat shampoo.
It’s a good idea to handle your kitten often while she’s growing up, so she knows it’s nothing to be frightened of. Grooming your kitten also gives you the opportunity to check her over: pay special attention to her teeth and paws. You should also check her eyes and ears regularly, looking for any unusual deposits of wax or pus. That way, when she’s examined by the vet she’ll be less likely to kick up a fuss.
Keeping your kitten’s mouth healthy
By the time your kitten is four months old her adult teeth will start to appear and most will have developed by the time she is eight months old. Effective oral hygiene is as important for cats as it is for us humans. It’s a good idea to get your kitten used to regular teeth cleaning from an early age, to prevent problems in later life. Brushing her teeth at least 3 times a week will help keep your kitten’s teeth and gums healthy.
Special toothbrushes, as well as toothpaste that’s specially formulated for cats, are available at vet surgeries; your vet will show you how best to use them.
Believe it or not, you can make tooth brushing fun: get her used to it and start by gently rubbing your finger over your kitten’s teeth every day. If she struggles, be gentle but firm; and when she settles down, praise her. Then introduce toothpaste on your finger, before using the specially designed toothbrush.
You can also buy cat treats that are specially designed to help keep your kitten’s teeth clean. And there are special diets such as paws and claws shouldn’t need any specific attention. But if you handle her paws on a daily basis, she’ll get used to it, and it’ll be easier for you to examine them when she’s older. Claws shouldn’t need clipping during this time, either - a scratching post should keep them trim by stripping off the old shell. This is also part of the process of marking her territory, not to mention good exercise for paws and claws, too.
Puppy, kitten and pet dieting, cat nutrition and dog nutrition information from Hill's Pet