My Cat Hates Being Groomed (The Struggle Is Real)

my cat hates being groomed

“My cat hates being groomed!”

How many times have you heard a fellow cat lover say that in exasperation?

As a cat owner myself, this is something I find myself muttering under my breath whenever it is time to trim my cat’s nails. Cats that enjoy or at least endure the grooming process without much protest are few and far between.

Are there ways that can help coax your cat into being more cooperative?

The best way to get your cat more accustomed to being groomed is through the process of desensitization. The aim is to do it slowly so as not to trigger your cat. Give your cat lots of positive reinforcements while grooming to make it feel less defensive and enjoy the process.  

In this article, we will be sharing simple ways to quickly turn your grooming struggles with your cat into a more mutually enjoyable one.

Creating a Positive Association With Grooming

If there’s one golden rule that you need to apply when it comes to grooming any part of the cat is this.

Always create a positive association for the cat with grooming.

It can be a tedious affair trying to catch your cat or hold it still for the 50th time but don’t get angry or frustrated.

Remember those times as a kid when your parents had to scold and chase you around the house just to take a shower?

That’s exactly how your cat is feeling.

Always talk to your feline friend softly and gently during the grooming process be gentle.

The Younger The Better

“The rule of thumb is not to wait when getting your cat used to grooming.”

The faster and younger you get your cat accustomed to being brushed or its ears cleaned, the easier it is for you as it grows older.

Kittens might not need as much grooming as older cats but it would be good to disguise grooming as playtime to get them used to it.

If you have an older cat, don’t wait to start grooming it at home or at the groomer.

The rule of thumb is not to wait when getting your cat used to grooming.

If you’re bringing home a new cat, get started on regular grooming sessions once it has settled in.

Many first-time cat owners have ‘new cat owner anxiety‘ syndrome and are very reluctant to put their cats in stressful situations. But cats are tough and can slowly get used to being groomed.

Trim The Claws/Nails

cat claws and paws

Always trim or cut your cat’s claws before commencing with your grooming session.

A sharp cat’s claw can cause serious injury if it does scratch you.

You can minimize any form of potential injury arising from the grooming sessions if you rule out the use of your cat’s weapon.

Use The Correct Grooming Tools

Just like a carpenter or plumber that needs their tools to do a proper job, you as a cat owner should take the time and effort to acquire the grooming tools that your cat is ok with.

For example, there are many times of grooming brushes out there for cats. The bristles are made from different textures and materials.

Some cats prefer hard bristles while others might find soft bristles more comfortable.

You might have to experiment with a few before arriving at one that suits your cat.

Don’t Rush Your Cat

“Always be aware and mindful of your cat’s body language.”

Cats like to be in control of things and to proceed at their own pace.

When grooming your cat for the first few times, don’t be eager to rush through the whole process.

Once the cat develops a negative association with grooming, you’re taking three steps backward.

Always be aware and mindful of your cat’s body language.

If it is pulling back, hissing or struggling, ease up and the grooming and take a break.

Reward Positive Behavior

Unlike dogs, cat owners aren’t very familiar with creating positive reinforcements with their cats.

But our cats do respond to praises and rewards a lot better than we give them credit for.

If your cat has been keeping still while you trim its nails, give it a few treats to enforce the positive behavior.

Tell your cat in a high-pitched voice what a great kitty it is.

Give it some scratches at a spot that it loves.

It won’t take long for your cat to link keeping still means getting more yummy treats and affectionate pets.

Be Gentle

It’s human nature to try and tighten our grip on something that is struggling to get free.

When it comes to grooming our cats, that is a bad idea.

Trying to hold a cat down against its will only causes your cat more distress.

There’s a chance that your cat might turn aggressive and bite or scratch you.

Your cat’s skin is very sensitive due to a large number of nerve endings so don’t brush your cat in the same manner as a carpet.

Put some love and tenderness into it.

Don’t underestimate how strong a cat can be when trying to break free.

My Cat Attacks Me When I Brush Her

Many cats, unlike dogs, can get rather anxious and squirmish in many situations. But it’s not the end of the world if your cat hates its grooming session.

Let us understand why grooming cats can seem like an ordeal at times:

  • Had a bad grooming experience before
  • You are not doing it right
  • Does not like being handled
  • Having an existing medical condition that causes pain when groomed (Like a very matted coat)

Various Ways Of Grooming Cats

Here’s an interesting fact.

Your cat is actually an expert at self-grooming.

Scientific studies have found that a cat’s tongue is made up of 300 hollow and sharp structures called papillae1.

The papillae help to distribute saliva on the cat’s fur to regulate body temperature and remove loose hair.

Your cat can spend up to 5 hours a day grooming itself.

Grooming cats isn’t just about brushing their fur. There are a number of other things that you should be doing.

Getting A Shower

A cat’s fur is generally quite clean from its constant grooming. But cats like hiding in places that can get dusty like under your bed or sofa.

They can also get rather messy when using the litter box so it is good to give them a bath about once a month.

Make sure you use a shampoo that is meant for cats as human-grade shampoo can dry out the cat’s skin.

Clipping Their Nails

A cat’s nails or claws are often used for defending and attacking.

Hence they can be very sharp if you don’t make it a point to clip them regularly.

Just don’t cut beyond the quick or it can cause bleeding.

Brushing Their Teeth

brush cat teeth finger brush

Truth be told, cats hate getting their teeth cleaned because it feels very unnatural for them.

However, if you have a cat that is prone to gums and tooth decay, it is important to brush its teeth.

These days, there are grooming tools that make it easier for you to carry out this dreaded task.

A finger brush and ‘chicken flavored’ do a pretty good job of keeping your cat’s pearly whites clean and decay-free.

Cleaning Their Ears

A cat’s ears tend to get dirty over time and it’s important to clean them out every few weeks.

Some cats get wax build-up a lot faster hence they require a higher frequency of cleaning.

It can seem like a daunting task cleaning your cat’s ears but it is rather easy.

A cat’s ear canal is ‘L’ shape so you can clean it out with an earbud without going too deep.

When in doubt, get your vet to demonstrate it.

If All Else Fails

“Please do not let a groomer sedate your cat as it is a very delicate process that can turn bad quickly if done wrong.”

If you have tried everything above many times and your cat is still not being cooperative at all, it would be best to take your cat to the vet for grooming.

There’s a chance that your cat needs to be sedated for it to be in a calm enough state for grooming to happen.

Please do not let a groomer sedate your cat as it is a very delicate process that can turn bad quickly if done wrong.

Don’t wait to bring your cat to the vet if it has a very matted coat as it can only get worse from there.

Final Thoughts

It does take some time to get your cat accustomed to being groomed. Many cat owners struggle with it from the start and manage to overcome their cat’s resistance.

So don’t be discouraged if your cat hates being groomed.

It won’t be long before you find your cat purring when you’re giving it a nice good brushing.


1. Alexis C. Noela and David L. Hu Cats Use Hollow Papillae To Wick Saliva Into Fur

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