My Cat Hates to be Brushed! What do I do?
Many cats will happily accept being groomed, but if your cat isn’t in the mood to be pampered, what can you do?
First, it’s a good idea to try and identify why your cat doesn’t enjoy being groomed. Sometimes if a cat has a very matted coat it can cause pain. If this is the case, the best option is to bring your cat to either a vet or a qualified groomer to have them remove the painful mats before trying to start a brushing routine at home.
Some cats do not enjoy being handled in general, and most of the time the dislike of grooming comes from a place of fear. This is actually a good thing, because with some time, patience, and a little bit of extra attention, you can help your scaredy cat to form a positive association with grooming!
Make sure you have the right tools
Some cats enjoy deep brushing right away, others can only tolerate soft bristles. There is as many types of brushes as there are types of cat hair, so you should experiment with a few different brushes and see what you and your cat like best.
Trim their nails first!
If you can, trimming just the tip of the sharp claws off before grooming will not only prevent any accidental scratches on you, but it promotes healthy clawing behaviors for your cat. There are many styles of nail trimmers available, however most cat owners find the scissor style to be the easiest. We go into more detail of the importance of nail trimming for cats here.
In my years as a groomer, for both cats and dogs, there were many pets I encountered who had a fear of every step of the grooming process.
The first thing I would always recommend is to do something as simple as placing the grooming tools out in the open where your pet can examine them, sniff them, and feel them out at their own pace. Once the presence of the item has become commonplace, you can move on to the next step.
Hold the brush and encourage them to sniff or rub against the bristles. Cats especially like to be in control of every situation, so this allows them to feel like they are the one grooming themselves! Encourage any positive interest in the brush with a reward. Don’t push the subject. After a few successful sniff and rub sessions, you can eventually move on to the next stage- brushing!
Begin with ares your cat likes to be pet. This is usually on their back, between their ears, and under their chin. Stroke and pet them gently first, to make sure they are receptive to being touched. Don’t hold down your cat, allow them to freely move about (and leave if they need to). You can then begin brushing. Concentrate on one area at a time, and brush with the grain of the hair.
As your cat becomes receptive to being brushed, you can slowly make your way to more sensitive areas, like the stomach or rear end.
Keep an eye out for any warning signs of over stimulation such as: flicking or lashing their tail, dilated pupils, flattened ears, staring, fur rippling, low growls or hisses, or an overall tenseness. If your cat shows any signs of being uncomfortable stop brushing before they become fully agitated. If you notice your cat only tolerates being brushed for 1 minute, start with 30 seconds, then work your way up. Speak in calm, soothing tones and reward them for their hard work with a treat or some catnip.
Remember- cats love routine, and the best time to attempt brushing would be when it would be in their natural routine. This would come after play then eat, so if you brush after a meal your cat may be more receptive. It is best to brush at least once a week, and more often if you can! With some time & the right tools, It may just become even the most difficult of cats favorite activity!