Grooming Your Cat Beyond The Coat

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Cats give themselves baths frequently, but they have other grooming needs that benefit from our assistance. However, if you’ve ever tried to groom your cat beyond brushing their fur coat, you might already know that they can be a bit fussy when it comes to having certain areas of their face or paws touched. They may not be a fan of having their claws clipped either. It can be a challenge to take care of their eyes, ears, nose and clip their claws, but there are some things you can do to make it a little easier on you both. 

Cats Have a Natural Urge to File Their Claws

First of all, if your cat isn’t an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat and doesn’t have the opportunity to scratch at a tree to file down his claws by himself, you’ll want to have a scratching post or corrugated cardboard or sisal scratchpad in your home. This allows him to indulge his scratching impulses without harming your furniture. If he doesn’t take to a scratching post or pad, you can attract him with some loose catnip sprinkled on it or catnip spray applied directly to the post or pad.

Claw Clipping

Choose a quiet spot to sit, with your cat on your lap or sitting beside you. If he’s been getting his claws clipped since being a kitten, the process may be straightforward. However, if you’re attempting to clip the claws of an adult cat who has never had its nails trimmed, or dealing with a cat that shies away from clipping, take the following steps to increase your chances of success:

  • Desensitize him to having his paws touched. Gently touch the pads of his paws, massage them lightly, or just hold them to help him get used to it. Do this for only a few seconds. If he tolerates this, continue to all his paw pads. Give him a treat after this. 
  • Get him used to the sound of the clippers. Taking a piece of uncooked spaghetti while holding one of his paws, snip the spaghetti close enough for him to hear, then release his paw and give him a treat. 
  • Expose the claws. Press on your cat’s paw pad to pop the claw out, and be very careful not to cut his claws down to the quick. The quick is the area that has nerve endings and blood vessels. Most cats have white claws, making it easy to see where the claw ends, and the quick begins. It’s better to cut less of his claw and cut more later than risk injuring the area. If you accidentally cut into the quick, you can stop the bleeding with styptic powder or a styptic pen, which seals the blood vessels despite your best efforts.
  • Clip each claw. Once you’re able to clip his claws, don’t be in a rush to cut them all at once. Your cat may only stand to have one claw clipped at a time. Go with the flow, and clip only as many as he’ll let you do without a struggle. Continue this daily until all his claws are clipped.

If your cat is still very resistant to having his claws clipped, you may need to make a “purrito” by wrapping your cat in a towel and only freeing up one leg at a time to proceed with claw clipping. You may need to enlist a second person to pull off this method. Finally, if all your attempts have failed, don’t try to force your cat to withstand claw clipping. Take him to a groomer or your vet for claw maintenance. 

Eye Care

Your cat’s eyes should be free from discharge, redness, or swelling. Check her eyes frequently for any unusual signs. In a well-lit area, look directly into your cat’s eyes. They should be clear, the area around the pupil should be white, and both eyes should be of equal size. Roll back the eyelid slightly, and check to make sure the lining of the lid is pink. It shouldn’t be red or white. If your cat has minor discharge or crust around the eyes, gently remove it with a warm washcloth. If there are any significant signs of abnormality, take her for a vet visit. 

Ear Care

First, check the appearance of her ears. Any discharge, redness, swelling, excessive wax build-up, or a bad smell is cause for a vet visit. The inner skin of the ear should be clean and light pink. If you don’t spot any issues, you can clean her ears, but take care not to go too far into the ear, and never use a Q-tip.

Put a small amount of liquid ear cleaner (your vet can recommend one) onto a clean cotton ball, then gently fold back her ear, and wipe away any excess wax or debris. You want to lift away any dirt or wax, not rub it into her ear. Feel free to reward her with a treat after her ear cleaning. 

Nose Care

Your cat’s nose should be smooth and moist. Touch your cat’s nose gently to check for any lumps, bumps, or swelling. Also, look for ulcers or slow-healing wounds. If your cat has any discharge coming from her nose, it could be a sign of infection, so get her checked out at your vet. If you don’t spot anything out of the ordinary, you can clean off your cat’s nose with a cotton ball or a washcloth soaked in warm water.

If you have a cat whose nose has more folds, such as a Persian cat, pay special attention to the folds, cleaning them out with a cotton ball or cotton swab dampened with warm water.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


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