Do you have a long-haired cat? Do you find yourself having to shave off his long hair due to matting and knots?
Most cats prefer to groom themselves instead of allowing their human companions to apply a brush or be bathed. Some take this really seriously and will become aggressive if someone tries to groom them. After getting bitten, scratched and putting up with general uncooperative behavior, the feline will most likely either be left to his own devices and become horribly matted, or will succumb to the stress and embarrassment of being shaved a couple times each year.
By teaching your cat to accept being groomed you can spare yourself and your cat the stress and agony of proper grooming.
The best way to begin is to associate the presence of the grooming tools with something positive such as kitty treats. Offer your cat the treats as he remains next to the tools. If you intend to bathe him, place the treats in the grooming tub or sink and allow your cat to eat them there.
When your cat is fully comfortable with being near the grooming tools or tub, begin touching him with the tools. For example if you are using a brush for his long hair, offer him food rewards as you gently apply the brush. Some cats will allow brushing along their backs and heads, but not their stomachs or tails, which is where the knots tend to accumulate on a long haired cat. Begin with the areas in which your cat is more amenable. When he relaxes during this process, do a little brushing of those other areas. If he looks at the brush and thumps his tail it means he’s not happy with the situation. Do one more stroke, give him a treat and return to brushing the other areas and continually rewarding him.
Try to work with your cat for at least ten minutes each day. If you find he really likes the treats, or better yet, canned cat food, offer it to him only when you are brushing him. This way he’ll recognize the grooming process as his meal time, giving it a positive association.
If you are trying to teach your cat to allow bathing, begin with just teaching him to hop into the tub or sink by putting his meals in there. Once the location is no longer an issue, put a little bit of water in there too. Do not force your kitty to remain in the water at the beginning. However, he must remain there if he’s to get his rewards. Should your cat be very stubborn and go on hunger strike until you remove the water, regress a bit to where he was comfortable remaining in the tub without the water. You can place a few low sided plastic containers filled with water around him and continue to offer him food rewards as he remains in place. Gradually add more and more water filled containers as he accepts their presence. You might find that regardless of how much time you put into teaching your cat to enjoy a bath he will always fight it. Try to make it a better experience by offering him treats and soft, soothing praise as you bath him.
When brushing gradually add strokes between the offer of food rewards. For example, begin with two strokes then praise and reward. Then do three strokes praise and reward; etc,. until you can do many strokes between rewards.
Keep in mind that cats are far more cooperative if they fully understand their situation and what is expected of them. Positive conditioning goes a long way to a healthier and happier pet.