We continue our series of recommendations for new cat owners. See the entire new cat shopping list here.
Most cats do an excellent job of keeping themselves clean. However, they also tend to ingest a good bit of their own fur when doing so. This can create hairballs in their digestive tract that either end up as life-threatening obstructions or juicy lumps on the floor. One way to help alleviate hairballs is a daily brushing. This is particularly important for long-haired cats.
The brush you choose depends on your individual cat. A short-haired cat will do just fine with just about any stiff-bristled pet brush. You don't want a brush that's too soft because it won't pick up loose hairs. We've also been unimpressed with "slicker" brushes--the ones with the wire bristles that have little plastic knobs on the ends.
If you find you need to remove more loose hair than the regular brush is handling, your best bet is the Furminator. No, that's not the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie! The Furminator is a metal comb/brush with sharp blades that work wonders. They really do remove lots of extra hair than normal brushes leave behind. For most cats, the Furminator treatment is only necessary during the warmer months when they're shedding.
The other must-have product is a nail clipper. You'll see lots of fancy clippers at the pet store, but all you really need are a pair of scissor-style clippers. Guillotine-style clippers are expensive but they really don't do a better job. If you have larger fingers, you may need to shop around for a pair of clippers that suit you because the finger holes can be rather small.
This isn't a post about how to groom your cat, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention a few helpful hints. Be gentle when grooming. Cats can easily be overstimulated and learn to dislike the process. A treat at the end of the session never hurts.
Cat nails aren't at all like human fingernails. It can be very easy to cut too far and cause pain and bleeding. If in doubt, just clip the tip! You never want to clip into the pink center of the claw.