Cat Grooming Supplies: They are SO Necessary

Why bother discussing Cat Grooming Supplies on a website that is mainly about cat medical problems? You may find it surprising to learn that some of the saddest cases I see are those involving cats whose fur and skin have not received the care required to stay healthy. Cats who were in urgent need of pet grooming supplies.Let me tell you about a case that illustrates perfectly what ignoring your cat's fur and skin will do.

Teddy is a 12 year old male long-haired cat that was brought to me because he hadn't eaten anything but a little baby food in a month. Recently, he wasn't eating much of that.

His fur was essentially one big mat. There was not a single spot on his body, including his legs, that wasn't matted. The mats were large and hard. There were mats causing difficulty urinating and defecating because of their location. There were mats causing pain every time he stretched, walked, or moved in any way. There were mats on his neck causing pain when he even just turned his head.

The skin under the mats was red, dry, irritated and, in some of the worst areas, peeling away from the underlying tissue. Teddy was a very uncomfortable cat. There certainly hadn't been any cat grooming supplies purchased or used on Teddy in a very long time!

To the left, you see a photo of matted fur that is one big mat after clipping. This hair cannot be separated. It was on the cat like that. The pen in the picture is there to show you the length of the mat. Others were even longer. Some that I have seen are almost the full length of a cat.

The first question I asked myself when I saw Teddy was "Did an illness that caused him to stop eating also cause the mats?" Some internal medical conditions can also affect the haircoat. Also, a sick cat may just stop grooming itself and mats are more likely to form.

Or ....."Did the mats form and cause him to stop eating because he was uncomfortable or because he ingested too much hair or even a solid mat in an effort to groom himself?"

Or ....were the mats and the loss of appetite totally unrelated?

Obviously, the cat can't answer those questions for me. That is one thing that makes veterinary medicine more difficult. As with pediatricians, our patients can't talk. So, the detective work begins.

First, a thorough exam, which revealed over 3 pounds of weight loss! That is tremendous for a cat. Not good at all.

Next, complete blood work, fully expecting that something would show up in the blood work to explain his weight loss and lack of appetite. Results? Perfect blood work.

This was good news, could this matted fur that was causing pain and skin infections be enough to lead to 3 pounds of weight loss? Due to the fact that Teddy had many of the same symptoms 10 years earlier that lead to exploratory surgery, it was necessary to look a little further with x-rays.

Chest and abdominal x-rays revealed some abnormalities in Teddy's stomach and intestines that raised suspicion of some type of foreign substance in those locations.

When Teddy had exploratory surgery 10 years earlier, large amounts of hair, both human and animal, as well as clumps of hairballs were removed from his stomach and small intestines and colon. Could this be the exact same situation 10 years later? And did I wonder why Teddy's owner didn't purchase cat grooming supplies after that surgery and keep him well-groomed? I have to admit I did.

Fortunately, this time, Teddy was already looking a bit better. He was eating for us, not enough, but more each day, and he continued to be alert and fairly strong. I was relunctant to rush into surgery and the owner agreed. Instead, we focused on slowly, day by day, clipping his mats and continuing supportive care (fluids, nutrition, etc.)

He was too unstable to be anesthetized in order to clip all his hair at once. And it was too painful and stressful to clip his entire hair coat at one time while he was awake. So we worked on him a little each day.

Fortunately for Teddy, he was able to avoid surgery this time. Little by little, he grew stronger although he did have several bouts of vomiting hair balls and passing hair in his stool. However, once his entire coat was clipped, he felt and acted like a new cat.

This is not, by far, the only case I have seen that involved extensive mats making a cat so ill they could have died. PLEASE take the grooming of your cat seriously. Brush your cat every day. Remove mats the minute they occur. Don't postpone necessary grooming. If you can't groom your cat yourself due to the cat's disposition, have your veterinarian do it or a very competent, trusted groomer.

Matted fur hurts! And the skin under matted fur can become very irritated, even infected. The consequences of matted fur are NOT just aesthetic. The consequences are damage to the health and comfort of your cat.

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