A group of cartoon cats smiling on a red background.

How to Make Kitty All Pretty: Cat Grooming 101

Does your cat have a few spots they can’t quite reach when grooming? The good news is you can help them get their whole coat back to looking sleek and clean. And with some preparation, patience and praise it might not be as difficult as you think. Here are some tips and tricks for grooming your cat!

Tips and Tricks for Grooming Your Cat

If there’s one thing cats are good at, it’s grooming. Whether it’s grooming themselves or licking you, cats are persistent with their grooming habits. But sometimes they need a little help from you, like when a medical condition or old age prevents them from reaching certain spots. Here are some tips and tricks on how to groom your cat calmly and safely.

A cartoon person in a yellow shirt petting a cat.

It’s All in the Preparation

For the comfort and safety of your cat (and you) it’s important to prepare your cat physically and emotionally for grooming sessions. Deep breath in, deep breath out…

  • Start getting your cat used to grooming while they’re a kitten (if possible).
  • Pet their entire body to relax them.
  • Focus on touching their paws to help with future nail trimming.
  • Do this for at least a week before starting grooming.
  • Continue touching their paws during cuddles to reinforce the positive association.

A cartoon person in a yellow shirt brushing a cat.

Brush, Brush, Brush Again

Brushing helps remove hair mats, dirt and loose hair, and it spreads healthy oils throughout their coat. It’s one of the easier grooming tasks, as most cats enjoy being brushed.

  • Brush weekly or daily depending on your cat’s coat type.
  • Use a brush or grooming gloves.
  • Brushing reduces the chance of hairballs.
  • It’s a great way to bond with your cat.

A cartoon person in an orange shirt clipping a cat’s nails.

Out Come the Claws

Nail trimming sounds hard but it is possible. First, make sure your cat is comfortable with having their paws touched and held (see preparation section above). It will save both of you some angst!

  • Use sharp cat-nail scissors.
  • Apply pressure to the top of their foot and pad to draw out their claws.
  • Trim the white tip of each nail to the point where it begins to curl.
  • Avoid the quick (the vein in the pinkish area).
  • If you do accidentally cut the quick, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

A cartoon person in a yellow shirt giving a cat a bath.

Who Wants to Get Wet?

Cats that groom often don’t need regular bathing, but sometimes a bath is necessary. There are some cats that don’t mind bath time, but you should probably be prepared to get a little wet!

  • Fill a tub or sink with 3–4 inches of warm water.
  • Gently wet your cat with a hose or unbreakable pitcher.
  • Avoid pouring or spraying water directly on their head.
  • Use a shampoo made specifically for cats.
  • Rinse and pat them dry with a large, warm towel.

A cartoon person in an orange shirt petting a cat.

Patience and Positivity Are Key

Creating a positive experience is the most important thing you can do to successfully groom your cat. It’s important to remain patient and remember that they may react strongly at first, but over time their negative reactions should decrease.

  • Slowly introduce the grooming tools you will use.
  • Let them investigate the tools on their own terms.
  • Use lots of praise and treats when introducing new grooming tasks or tools.
  • Stop during high-stress times and resume grooming once they’re calm.


Calling a professional groomer may be the best solution for some cats and owners who aren’t having much luck with at-home grooming. Professional groomers will have the best equipment and can quickly, efficiently and correctly groom your cat for you.


RELATED POST: Debarking Pet Myths: Do All Cats Hate Water?


The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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