The last in the series, of "Cat Grooming, You're Doing it Wrong", we talk about products that are marketed for felines. By products, I mean items that are used on the coat of the cat.
Standing in the aisles of most pet supply stores, you will first notice a deficient of tools and products specifically for cats. Most are dog-centric have just been repackaged for cats. This can be dangerous and does a disservice to cats.
Never ever use ANY product that is meant for a dog on a cat. It may contain ingredients that are very toxic or even fatal if licked by the cat. This is particularly critical for any flea control products. Use a cat-specific labelled product only. This is for drops, flea collars, shampoo, foam, premise spray, etc.
The most popular cat shampoos marketed typically have a conditioner in it. I suppose it is meant to control the static electricity commonly associated with fine hair. The problem is that cats are naturally greasy. In fact, they are greasier than dogs. It makes no sense to add oil (conditioner) to a coat that is already amuck with grease. You best choice is a natural degreasing shampoo to thoroughly wash the skin and hair. Damp cat hair should squeak when it is clean. This doesn't happen with any cat shampoo I've ever seen in a pet supply store. So although you may has "washed" the cat, it really isn't clean. It's still greasy. It is no wonder that pet groomers get frustrated with the results of attempting to wash a cat with poor results. They are using the wrong products.
Show cat fanciers used to use four separate steps to adequately wash and prepare their cats for shows. Some still do. Some will use solvents, Dawn, d'limonene, to get the grease out of the hair. Followed by a hypo allergenic products to get any gear easer residue out in the final step. It doesn't need to be that complicated anymore. I use Chubbs Bars. It is an organic degreasing shampoo that can degrease most cats in just two washes. It uses no solvents, or anything else that is potentially harmful to a cat. Just simple old fashion clean.
Have you ever shampooed your hair using wipes? What kind of result do you think you would get? The result is about the same on a cat. It might smell perfumed for an hour from the chemicals on the wipe, but it didn't succeed in getting your cat any cleaner. Use wipes if it makes you feel better.
De-tangler sprays for cats is a bit of a farce because you cannot de-tangle cat hair. Once the hair has started to bond with other hairs the only thing that can be done it to ease the mat out by pulling it out of the coat. It won't magically come undone. Pulling on wet sprayed hair damages and stretches the hair follicles even more. In fact, trying to comb out mats on a dirty cat is tantamount to torture. The hair is locked up and pulling it out hurts. No wonder kitty isn't happy when you try and do it. If the mats haven't interlocked into a pelt (which then requires a shave down) than the mats must worked gently out of the coat only AFTER the cat has had a proper degreasing bath, followed by a velocity drying to loosen and blow apart the mats. It is the only humane and effect way to remove the knots on a cat. If you have a matted cat and decide to wash it at home, never let it run around to air dry otherwise the mats will shrink and bind only tighter.
As I have blogged before, only a show cat with 2-3 baths a week regime may ever need conditioner. Dandruff is dead skin on cats, NOT dry skin. If you have a very staticky kitty, you can use a metal comb and a light misting of plain water to neutralize the ions. For hardcore problems, look at increasing the humidity in your home or buying Biogroom anti-static spray. It doesn't add oil and it is safe for cats. It's what we professionals use.
Ears have delicate tissue, but it does get waxy at times. You don't need any fancy ear cleaner that may have alcohol or oil in it. I like to use witch hazel.
Eye cleaner are need for flat-faced breeds like Persians or Exotic Short-hairs. Their eye ducts frequently don't drain as easily as the longer nosed breeds and staining results. The staining is caused by protein deposited on the hair. You can buy the fancy stain removal products ( this is the one area that cat and dog product crossover is safe) but a simpler and less costly alternative is to use saline contact lens solution. The same stuff you rinse your contacts in before putting it you own eye. Don't use the red-tipped protein busting solution.
So as you may have noticed, most of the cat products on the shelf in your local pet store is junk. If your cat's grooming needs are getting beyond your comfort zone, or becoming a point of contention in your relationship with your cat, call a Certified Feline Master Groomer for help or advise.
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