Money Matters Team

A guide to grooming your cat

By Money Matters Team 25/06/2020

Left to themselves, your cat will manage perfectly well on the sprucing up front - but help from you will make their nine lives even happier.

First, when a cat grooms itself, backward-pointing spines on the tongue pick up dirt and moulting fur. This can create fur balls which your pet should eventually cough up. Regular grooming will reduce this aggravation by getting rid of the loose fur.

Grooming your pet also stimulates circulation which improves muscle tone. One important advantage of grooming a cat is the opportunity this gives you to inspect them regularly for any signs of ill health such as infected eyes or ears, flea, mite or tick infestation.

Grooming is an activity that any cat will soon come to enjoy as, if it’s done carefully and gently, it is an act of love and care.

Some cats are a little hesitant to take part at first but often adopting a ‘little at a time’ approach will gradually see them become more open to the idea.

If you find your cat is nervous or seems to be in distress, be gentle and don’t pursue the session beyond a few minutes. Each time spend a few moments more, until they realise there’s nothing to fear – they will grow to like it.

Lots of cats love to be pampered and need no extra coaxing!

In addition to regular grooming at home, it may be advisable for you to take your cat into a professional grooming salon. This is particularly the case for long haired animals, where trained professionals can carry out more thorough routines.

But what are the main things you should be doing at home?


Combing and brushing is effective at removing dead hairs, which can otherwise build up and lead to your cat developing a hairball after washing. It also helps to keep their coat in lovely condition and although it’s harder to see the results underneath all that fur, regular brushing makes sure their skin stay healthy too.

Begin by combing, using a fine comb for short hairs and a thicker comb for long hairs. Start at the head and work your way down their body, section by section. Always follow the direction of the hair; going against the direction of growth is uncomfortable for the cat and not as effective.

If you come across an especially troublesome knot or matted area, gently comb it through, or if it’s really stubborn, cut it away with a small pair of trimming scissors.

After this, go all over with a fine flea comb in case there any are lurking. To finish, use a soft brush from head to tail, again moving in sections. If by this stage your cat has become grouchy, try a grooming glove. These are gloves with short bristles that allow you to stroke your cat as normal but secretly give them a nice brush!

Clipping claws

It’s important that cats who spend most of their time indoors should have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. Not only does it help reduce damage to your belongings (including the furniture!), it also helps your cat stay free of illness or injury.

To clip their claws you’ll need a pair of nail clippers and some treats at hand. Wrapping your cat loosely in a towel may make the process easier and your cat feel more comfortable. If your cat isn’t used to getting their nails clipped, start off slowly by getting them used to the sight of the nail clippers and having their paws touched.

Don’t attempt to trim all your cat’s nails at once. It’s easier for your cat if you take breaks in between. Trim a couple of claws and then take a break, or trim all claws on a single paw (if your cat is comfortable) before taking a break. Gently take their paw and squeeze on the end of it until the claw comes out. Begin the grooming by cutting the tips of the nail off and then gradually build up your confidence as you progress. You’ll notice that there’s a pink area inside the nail - be extra careful not to clip this as it’s sensitive and could cause your cat to bleed.

Once you’ve trimmed a claw, be sure to reward your cat with a treat and praise to help build reassurance. Trimming your cat’s nails should be a regular part of your cat grooming routine. It’s advised to trim your cat’s nails every ten days to two weeks.

However, if you’re not too comfortable with the idea, get a professional to do it for you. In the meantime you can provide plenty of scratching posts to aid natural trimming.


The need to bathe a cat is rare but can be necessary if someone in your home is allergic or they’ve managed to get themselves exceptionally muddy.

If you must give them a bath then be sure to only use feline-friendly products and place a non-slip mat at the bottom of the basin to ease the process. Make sure the water is lukewarm and remember that most cats don’t like water and therefore may be reluctant to get in the tub. Keeping the water level low and using a central spray from a shower head or hose may help.

Clipping fur

Many cats will claw at their owners when you try to trim their fur. It’s nothing personal, it’s a defensive reaction. If you clip the claws before you start, you’ll reduce the damage that can be done.

Your clippers will make a noise. Turning them on right next to your cat may scare them. Turn them on a distance away and gradually move closer.

When buying new clippers chose a quiet set. Make sure you have a set that are specifically for cats and start with the longest blade setting – such as a No.10.

You can always trim shorter later if desired.

Happy cats

If a cat is not enjoying being groomed then it will let you know by hissing, or growling.

It’s important to stop grooming if your cat shows any signs of discomfort and you should always end a productive grooming session with praise and perhaps a treat. This will help reinforce the process as a positive experience for your pet, making them more comfortable with it in the future.

Don’t forget to insure your cat. This can help pay for the treatment they need if they fall ill. You’ll find lots of handy advice at Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.