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Cat Brushing, Bathing & Teeth Cleaning

douglas (cat) gasping by m3fingers

Many people don’t know you can prevent dental disease in cats by brushing their teeth and keeping a wary eye on their dental health. Sniff your cat’s breath – foul breath can indicate tummy problems or gum disease, which a vet needs to treat. Gently lift your cat’s lips – look at the gums, they should be firm and pinkish and the teeth clean without brown. . Gum swellings and/or red or white colours indicate gum problems, brownish or caked teeth indicate dental problems. Again, vet care is needed.

Other signs your cat needs vet care are dark red lines at the gum lines, or red, swollen gums; gum or tongue ulcers; pus; loose teeth; problems chewing; a lot of drooling or pawing at the mouth area. All of these signs are cues to visit the vet swiftly – gum swelling can be a sign of more serious conditions, or lead to dental disease.

How to Clean Cats Teeth

You can prevent many dental or gum diseases by simply cleaning their teeth regularly. Its worth checking with your vet beforehand to check for gingivitis – mild cases are common in cats and this might make tooth brushing painful for them. Yes, manufacturers have developed an enormous range of pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste products. You must use a species-specific dedicated cat tooth brush and toothpaste – ask your vet to recommend a brand for you, as human toothpaste can damage cat’s heath. Human toothbrushes are too big and harsh – again ask the vet for recommendations. You can get rubber cat toothbrushes and versions you can wear on your finger (think: like a kind of rubber sewing thimble!).

Introduce the idea with gently touching the gums with your fingers or a cotton bud (USA: ‘cotton swab’) a few tines. Then, to allow her or him to taste the cat toothpaste, pop a bit long the lips a few times. Then bring in your cat toothbrush, gently gently brush the teeth with the cat toothpaste.

cat teeth decaycat toothbrush

Additionally, give chew toys which promote dental health, which you can ask your vet about. These are particularly useful if you only feed ‘wet food’ (cans, pouches or non-dried-meat or fish products), although still of value for cats on dry food diets. You can also buy specific diets for cats with more severe dental problems but get your vets advice before you spend you money. Some products are endorsed by the USA’s Vetinary Oral Health Council (accepted by the British Vetinary Dental Association and the European Vetinary Dental Association.

Problems to look out for include:

Dark red lines along the gum line – more prevalent in older cats, can be sore and even ulcerated (gingivitis)

Loose teeth and abscesses (periodontitis)

Inflamed mouth lining – inside of mouth looks red, tough to swallow properly (stomatitis)

Sores or swellings on the upper lip which slowly grow larger (rodent ulcers)

Swellings under the tongue (Salivary cysts)

Ulcers on mouth, ulcers on tongue (sometimes feature of respiratory or kidney problems)

All of the above = immediate trip to the vets

Unhand meh nao... or suffeh teh conseqwensez

Unhand meh nao... or suffeh teh conseqwensez

Brushing & bathing

Mostly your kitten or cat can take care of themselves, but they do benefit from some input from you. If you brush their coat regularly, it removes dirt and helps distribute natural coat oils. You do need a special cat brush, you vet can recommend one for your particular cat – the needs vary by breed (or cross-breeds, in the case or our non-pedigree!). Short haired cats – brush once or twice weekly (or of course, as specially advised by your vet). Long haired cats particularly benefit from daily brushing, as their coat can otherwise become matted and irritate them. Don’t leave matted fur – gently work it out using a slicker brush – ask your vet to recommend one. NEVER pull the hair, as this is painful and distressing for the cat. If the matting won’t move, or is excessive, take your cat to the vets – they’re very very used to dealing with this problem and a good vet will be highly adept at sorting this feline indignity out. Long haired or short haired, older cats benefit tremendously, if you make it a gentle, stress-free regular time with lots of cat treats. Choose a quiet place in your home and start by stroking then using the brush, then back to stroking and give plenty of treats – build an association that this a nice time. NEVER punish cats that don’t take to grooming; gentle persistence is the key and check out the useful info below for further advice on introducing grooming.

Hairballs

Regular grooming for longhairs can prevent hairballs forming, where the cat ingests hair and then vomits it or passes uncomfortable or painful hairballs in their stools. If you cat has persistent hairball problems, take them to the vet as there are products they can recommend to stop this happening.

If you've got one of these or similar....

If you've got one of these or similar....

May help in the battle against hairballs...

...You may want one of these in the battle against hairballs...

Bathing

Again, cats can largely take care of their own coats, but if they have been in contact with oily, greasy substances you may want to gently bathe them using special cat shampoo. Don’t use human shampoos as these may irritate the skin. See below for useful resources on safely bathing your kitten or cat.

IMPORTANT: This article is written for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional vetinary advice on any animals’ health or living needs – if you have any concerns about these, please consult a qualified vet. Thank you.

Posted by Joe De Bloom – who gets to do all this regularly

Useful Resources:

ASPCA [online] Groom Your Cat

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/groom-your-cat.html

ASPCA [online] Cat Brushing & Skin Care

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-care-brushing-skin-care-101.html

ASPCA [online] Ten Steps to Dental Health

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/ten-steps-to-dental-health.html

ASPCA [online] Bathing Your Cat

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-care-bathing-your-cat.html

British Vetinary Dental Association. Association. [online]

http://www.bvda.co.uk/

Cats Protection League [online] Caring For Your Cat

http://www.cats.org.uk/catcare/leaflets/EG03-Caringforyourcat.pdf

European Vetinary Dental Association [online]

http://www.evds.info/

Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB). [online] General Cat Care

http://www.fabcats.org/owners/general.php

Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB). [online] The Itchy Cat – What To Do When It’s Not Fleas.

http://www.fabcats.org/owners/fleas/itchy_cat.html

Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB). [online] Skin Problems In Cats

http://www.fabcats.org/owners/skin/index.php

Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB). [online] Tackling Fleas on Cats.

http://www.fabcats.org/owners/fleas/info.html

RSPCA [online] Cat Pet care

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=CatsPetCare&marker=1&articleId=1154077765171

RSPCA [online] Handle With Care – Cats Pet Care Sheet

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=urlblob&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=RSPCABlob&blobwhere=1099596629315&ssbinary=true&Content-Type=application/pdf

Vetinary Oral Health Council. Products Currently Awarded the VOHC Seal. [online] VOHC.

http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm

Photo Credits:

Cat’s mouth http://www.sxc.hu/profile/m3fingers Bathing cat http://www.sxc.hu/profile/grngobstpr Maine Coon longhair cat http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=753150

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Rabbit & Small Animal Grooming

Rabbits

rabbit by christa

Strictly high-maintenance types...

Rabbits need special care when handling – if they are in pain or distressed, they may bite. Rabbits should NEVER be left unsupervised with children for this reason – they do need gently handling, from both the rabbit and child’s point of view. There are cases where rabbits have suffered broken limbs due to suddenly being dropped – and some of these will be after a sudden bite. As smaller pets go, they are among the more demanding to properly care for.

They need to be picked up by supporting their front end in one hand their rear end in the other – rabbits who have not been picked up like this have suffered spinal injuries. NEVER pick a rabbit up by his or ears – this is known to lead to serious injuries.

Rabbits need regular brushing. You’ll need a special soft rabbit brush, brush gently from the back of the head to the tail. Look out for bald patches, lumps, sore patches, fur with diarrhoea on it especially at the feet and rear end. These need vetinary attention. Be especially aware to check their rear end daily for flystrike. This happens when flies lay eggs around the bunny’s bottom, which hatch within hours into maggots. The maggots then eat into the rabbit’s skin. Apart from the unpleasantness for rabbits and their owners, this causes illness, as the maggots release toxins and encourage unhealthy bacteria. Any rabbit with flystrike, or any unusual sore patches, must be taken to the vet immediately. Hang fly strips near their home, clean the home regularly using special rabbit-safe disinfectants and ask your vet to recommend special anti flystrike preventative products. Also keep an eye out for overgrown nails, which your vet will show you how to trim.

flystrike rabbit butt

Rear end sadly affected by flystrike

Guinea Pigs

I have my own hairdresser but ok, you can help

I do my own hair-do but ok, you can help

A little bit like cats, guinea pigs are very image conscious – they generally take good care of their own coats. Regular brushing can help to keep the hairs clean and remove any old, loose hair. This is especially important for longhaired varieties, who may need daily gently brushing to stop their coats becoming tangled and matted. If you cannot gently work out the matted hair, your pet needs to go to the vet – they’re very used to dealing with these problems. You can encourage your guinea pig to let you groom her or him if they’re not used to being handled by feeding small guinea pig treats for a while. The gently pick them up, with one hand supporting their rear end and the other supporting their back. You need a special guinea pig brush from a pet store; your vet will be able to recommend one as their needs obviously vary by coat length. If your guinea pig scratches a lot, it could be caused by mites or lice and this needs vetinary treatment. You need to be especially aware for longhaired guinea pigs as they can suffer from a condition called flystrike – where flies lay eggs onto the skin, which hatch within hours into maggots and then literally eat into the skin, causing ill health. Check their fur all over daily, especially under the tail and keep their homes very very clean – clean it every day and change the bedding frequently. If you see sore patches or maggots in your pet’s skin, you must take it immediately to the vet – the condition can become very serious.

Look out with all guinea pigs for bald patches on the face – this can indicate ringworm (actually a fungal rather than helminth – worm – disease). Again, they need a trip to the vets immediately. Check also for overgrown claws and teeth, which a vet can safely deal with for you. For dental health, make sure they have something wooden  to gnaw on – their teeth constantly grow, and gnawing helps keep them in check – make sure the wood  is ’untreated’  (no chemicals used).

Hamsters

Yes, you can brush me - gently - I said gently, c'mon, I'm tiny, man

Dude, I'm tiny, so brush me very gently :)

Need to be gently brushed very day. If your hamster is not used to being handled, encourage them by giving them tasty hamster treats for a while, then gently picking them up – NEVER by the tail, support them gently. Hold your hamster for just a few moments at first, and then he or she will become more used to you and allow you to pick him up for longer. You will need a special hamster brush – your vet can recommend, as this will vary by breed as to what type of brush is needed. Look out for skin sores – bathe sores in warm water with a mild, hamster-safe antiseptic. Ongoing sores need a vet to examine them. If you notice multiple sores, or bald patches, take your hamster to the vet – it could have parasites or ringworm (this is a fungal, rather than ‘true’ worm disease). Check for sore eyes – this could be due to dust in bedding, simply aging or sometimes breathing problems – again, this needs a vet to examine the hamster. Check for overgrown claws and teeth, which the vet can trim – their teeth constantly grow Provide them with wood to gnaw on – it must not have been treated with any chemicals, as this could be harmful.  Be aware that your hamster’s cheek ‘pouches’ where it stores it food can easily be hurt by rough splinters or sharp-edged food. If anything becomes embedded in the pouches, take the hamster to the vet immediately.

Gerbils

Hey! Mind my tail!

Hey! Mind my tail!

These aren’t generally brushed but when you’re handling or observing them, do look out for sore noses and eyes. This can be caused by chewing wire or dust in their home. Also check for overgrown teeth – they grow constantly, and you can prevent overgrowth by providing wood to gnaw on. It must be untreated, as chemicals used for wood could be dangerous to your gerbil.  Your vet can also check for and trim overgrown teeth if necessary.  Be especially careful when handling the gerbil, as the thin end of their tails is delicate and easily injured.

IMPORTANT: This article is written for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional vetinary advice on any animals’ health or living needs – if you have any concerns about these, please consult a qualified vet. Thank you.

Posted byNorma De Bloom – former guinea pig, mice and gerbil -mom!

Useful Resources

ASPCA [online] Gerbil Care

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/gerbil-care.html

ASPCA [online] Guinea Pig Care

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/guinea-pig-care.html

ASPCA [online] Hamster Care

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/hamster-care.html

ASPCA [online] General Rabbit Care

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/general-rabbit-care.html

RSPCA [online] Handle with Care – Hamsters

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=urlblob&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=RSPCABlob&blobwhere=1099596633295&ssbinary=true&Content-Type=application/pdf

RSPCA [online] Handle With Care – Rabbits

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=urlblob&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=RSPCABlob&blobwhere=1099596629449&ssbinary=true&Content-Type=application/pdf

RSPCA [online] Pet Care- Gerbils

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=SmallAnimalsCare&marker=1&articleId=1154077755727

RSPCA [online] Pet Care- Guinea Pigs

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=SmallAnimalsCare&marker=1&articleId=1154077755508

RSPCA [online] Pet Care- Hamsters

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=SmallAnimalsCare&marker=1&articleId=1154077755713

Photo Credits

Pretty Rabbit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/christa Guinea Pig http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Gabija Hamster http://www.sxc.hu/profile/red2000 Gerbil http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lockstockb

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Pets Photo Gallery

Coming soon……….. our Pets Photo Gallery

Please check back on this page soon as we will be installing a internet-gadegtry-thingie that allows you to upload photos of your pets – yippee!!

We’d love to post your photos of the world’s most beautiful doggies and puppies, cats and kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gebrils… and any other pets you might be the proud ‘pet mom or dad’ of.

For now, here’s s a starter of our gorgeous kitty…..

Norma & Joe De Bloom Borbola 012

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