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How to care for a senior cat’s coat

As cats age, their grooming needs change. Just like in humans, their skin becomes less elastic and more brittle. Some cats may find it difficult to reach every spot that needs to be cleaned. Here are a few tips to help you keep your senior cat’s coat as clean as a junior’s!

Regular brushing

Brushing your cat’s fur helps to remove dead hair that can cause painful mats and an upset stomach due to hairballs. Thankfully, most cats enjoy being brushed. However, if your cat is uncooperative, try to do it once or twice a week in short 15 minute bursts. If your cat continues to protest, it may just be a matter of finding the right brush for his or her type of fur and temperament. Also be on the lookout for uncomfortable matted fur that needs special attention from a licensed groomer.

Taking a bath

Older cats that have trouble grooming themselves may have excessive buildup of naturally occurring oils on their fur. For these kitties, you can dampen a cloth and gently pet your cat with it to help redistribute the oils and remove dust and dandruff. In these cases, you won’t need soap, but you can also use specifically labeled pet wipes. Do not use baby or scented wipes.

A full bath isn’t always necessary, but kitties who have come in contact with oil or a sticky substance may need to be washed in the tub. The ASPCA has step by step instructions for how to bathe your cat in the tub.

Things to look out for

Even before you brush or bathe your cat’s fur, it’s important to run your hands through their coat and skin to check for sore spots, scabs, flea dirt, otherwise irritated skin. Pay special attention to the area under the tail for any feces that need to be trimmed off with scissors. Rice-sized particles under the tail can indicate tapeworms, which need to be treated by a vet.

You should also bring your cat in for a check up if you notice any other skin abnormalities, or if your kitty still has hairballs or an upset stomach despite regular grooming.

Do you have a senior cat with a special coat care regimen? Be sure to let your sitter know! Our friendly pet sitters are happy to follow your cat’s routine while you’re away. Call for a quote today!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Tracie Hall on flickr

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How often should you brush your cat?

15845971444_ee524a462e_zSometimes when you pet your cat, you get a handful of loose hair. At other times, your cat may not shed at all. So, exactly how often are you supposed to brush your cat? Well, the answer depends on a number of factors.

Fur length

The general consensus is that long hair cats shed more than short hair cats. However, every cat is different. Even if a long hair cat doesn’t shed much, he may still need to be brushed everyday to prevent mats and tangles. Likewise, don’t assume that your short hair cat doesn’t need to be brushed daily if she is a big shedder.


While long hair cats that live indoors tend to shed all year round, short hair cats may go through shedding seasons. The fur shedding process isn’t triggered by temperature, but rather by the length of daylight. Therefore, short hair cats without much access to natural light may shed year round, too. Otherwise, most cat parents notice increased shedding at the end of winter and at the beginning of summer.


Due to common problems like back pain and arthritis, older cats may have trouble taking care of their fur or reaching certain places. These kitties require special attention to make sure that the oil in their coats is distributed evenly, to remove dead hair and skin, and to prevent mats and hairballs. These kitties can require daily grooming.


Skin problems such as allergic reactions, infections, and flea bites can ruin a cat’s coat. If you notice that your cat is losing more hair than usual, scratching incessantly, or has a lot of dandruff, you should discontinue grooming until you can take your cat to the vet. Your vet can give you instructions and medications specific to your kitty’s skin condition.


For those kitties who would rather not be brushed, it’s okay to do it on an as-needed basis. Otherwise, all you’re doing is introducing undue stress into your kitty’s life. However, over time you may want to build up your cat’s tolerance to being brushed. It’ll make it far easier for you if you ever need to remove mats in the future.

In conclusion, a good rule of thumb is to brush long hair cats daily and to brush short hair cats several times per week. There is no concrete answer, but brushing your cat often will keep her happy and healthy.

Does your cat’s fur get tangled while you’re away? Our pet sitters can make brushing a part of the daily routine when visiting your cat. Give us a call to find out what out pet sitters can do for you!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by S ‘Lucy Sky’ Diamond-Jones on flickr

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How do I prevent shedding?

Furminating angusSave for perhaps the owners of Sphynx cats, virtually every pet parent has found their clothes and household fabrics covered in fur. So, what causes shedding?

Natural causes

Outdoor cats grow and shed coats according the seasons. This is usually triggered by changes temperature and the hours of light in a day. For indoor cats, artificial lighting and air conditioning can interfere with these natural signifiers. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see shedding year-round.

Medical conditions

However, shedding in excess can be caused by allergies, infections, and pests. Stress can also lead to excessive shedding. If you notice that your cat is over grooming one area, biting, scratching, or losing fur in large patches, you should consult your vet.

Once your cat has a clean bill of health, try one of the following to help alleviate the plague of fur around your house.

Add brushing to your routine

In addition to removing dead fur that can cause tangles, studies have shown that spending time brushing or petting your cat can have health benefits for you as well. Some cats enjoy a slicker brush, or Kong’s Zoom Groom may be a good alternative. Deshedding tools like the Furminator are actually blades that can help to remove the dead undercoat before it becomes a larger problem.

Try wipes and washes

Sometimes, older cats in particular need a little help from their pet parents for grooming. You don’t need to douse your kitty with water, though. There are a variety of dry shampoos and gentle wipes available at the pet store that can help you keep your cat’s coat clean and shining.

Feed a balanced diet

You may be surprised the difference a high quality food can make. Look for foods that are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are easier for your kitty to digest. Finding a food that’s both healthy and appetizing for your individual cat can take some trial and error, but here is a comprehensive list to set you on the right track.

Think outside the box

Last, but not least — if piles of fur have become a nuisance in your home, you can try adding attractive throws that can be easily washed to your furniture. In the same vein, adding a pet bed may give your kitty a more preferred comfy surface where you don’t mind so much fur.

Shedding is a fact of life for kitties, which is why some of our pet sitters keep a lint roller handy. Just in case.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

Furminating Angus” by Paul Joseph is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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