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12 Expert Cat Grooming Tips: A Beginner’s Guide

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

woman bathing a cat

Any cat owner will tell you that their pet spends a significant amount of time grooming themselves. Even so, helping your feline friend maintain their hygiene and overall well-being through regular grooming sessions is essential. While grooming your cat may seem intimidating, especially if you are a beginner, the tips and tricks here will help you get started and make the process easier.

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The 12 Expert Cat Grooming Tips

1. Establishing a Bond

Before you try to groom your cat, you will need to build a trusting relationship. Spend time playing with them, petting them, and giving them treats to create a positive association with you and the grooming sessions to help alleviate any anxiety or resistance, especially when the cat is still a kitten.

2. Grooming After Playtime

Grooming your cat after playtime can help them feel more relaxed because they have spent most of their excess energy running and playing. It can help make them less aggressive toward you and more likely to sit still and not venture off into another part of the house during your session.

grooming of a siberian cat
Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock

3. Brushing & Combing

Regular brushing is essential for maintaining your cat’s coat. Invest in a quality brush or comb that is suitable for your cat’s hair length and type. Slicker brushes are popular and come in many sizes and shapes. They’re also easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Start with gentle strokes, gradually increasing pressure. Brush with the hair growth, paying attention to areas prone to matting, such as the belly and behind the ears.

If you need a great brush, we recommend the Hepper Cat Brush. This easy-to-use product reliably removes loose hair and knots, and you can clean it with the touch of a button! Try it and you’ll see why this brush is perfect for you and your cat.

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4. Handling Mats & Tangles

If you encounter mats or tangles, avoid pulling or cutting them with scissors, as this can harm your cat and make them angry or frightened. Instead, gently loosen the mat by using a pet-safe detangling spray or a specialized mat-splitter tool. Be patient and let the tools do the work. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few sessions. For stubborn mats, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian.

owner hand holding pet hair brush with pet fur clump after grooming cat
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

5. Bathing Techniques

While cats are generally meticulous self-groomers, occasional baths may be necessary, especially for long-haired breeds or if your cat gets into something dirty. Use a cat-specific shampoo and warm water, ensuring a secure grip on your cat during the bath. Be mindful of their ears, and avoid getting water or soap in their eyes. Getting them used to the procedure when they are still kittens can help them relax more as adults, but don’t bathe them too often, or you can strip their skin of important oils.

Our Recommendations

Adding a shampoo and conditioner duo to your pet's grooming routine could be the difference in creating a soft, fluffy coat and hydrated, nourished skin. Heppers Oatmeal Pet Shampoo gently lifts dander, dirt, and excess fur without scrubbing away the natural oils important to your cat's derma health. The Pet Conditioner restores any moisture that may have been washed away and will prevent tangles and static. Both are all natural and formulated to soothe irritated skin. 

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6. Nail Trimming

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is important for their comfort and may even reduce how often they scratch at the curtains and furniture. Use cat nail clippers or a nail grinder designed for pets, and familiarize yourself with how to use it before introducing it to your pet. Cut the nails short, but not so short that you cut the quick, which is the pink area at the base of the nail that can cause pain and bleeding.

Trimming your cat's nails isn't the easiest task in the world, but a well-designed set of clippers can make all the difference. Our Hepper Cat Nail Clipper Set features two sizes of clippers with easy-to-clean stainless steel blades and a built-in safety guard to prevent accidental cuts. These clippers are comfortable to hold, nicely designed to work at tricky angles, and even include a bonus hidden nail file and a convenient pouch!

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7. Dental Care

Many cat owners overlook dental hygiene, but it’s a crucial aspect of your pet’s overall health, and many cats suffer from dental disease. Some sources suggest that more than half of cats over the age of 3 have some form of the disease. Manually brushing the teeth with pet-safe toothpaste can help keep the teeth in good shape, and starting when they are still kittens will help get them into a routine that lasts into adulthood.

8. Handling Sensitive Areas

Be cautious when grooming sensitive areas like the face, ears, and tail. Use gentle techniques, and if your cat becomes uncomfortable, take a break and try again at another time. Never force your cat into any grooming activity because it will make them more resistant later.

Woman grooming cat
Image Credit: Melissa Dupont, Pixabay

9. Ear Cleaning

Regular ear cleaning helps prevent infections and ear mites and makes it more likely that you will notice those problems. Use a cat-specific ear cleaner and cotton balls or pads. Gently wipe the visible parts of the ear, avoiding going too deep into the ear canal. If you notice excessive wax buildup, a dark area inside the ear, or signs of discomfort, consult your veterinarian.

10. Eye Care

Keep your cat’s eyes clean and free of discharge. Use a damp, soft cloth or cotton ball to gently wipe away any crust or debris from the corners of their eyes, and consult your veterinarian if you notice persistent redness, swelling, or discharge.

woman cleaning cat eyes
Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

11. Tail Grooming

Long-haired cats may require extra attention to their tail. Regularly comb and brush the tail to prevent matting, and use a de-shedding tool if needed. Be gentle and patient, starting from the base and working your way to the tip.

12. Professional Grooming

Consider taking your cat to a professional groomer, especially if you have a long-haired breed or your cat becomes anxious during grooming and won’t let you complete the process. Professional groomers have experience and specialized tools to handle grooming needs effectively and safely, and they can also provide tips and tricks specific to your pet.

Professional groomer cuts fluffy cat's fur with trimmer in pet beauty salon
Image Credit: Yolya Ilyasova, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Groom My Cat?

The frequency of grooming depends on your cat’s coat type and length. While you may need to brush long-haired cats daily to prevent matting, you may only need to brush short-haired cats once or twice weekly. You must also perform regular nail trims, ear cleanings, and dental care.

My Cat Hates When I Groom Them, So What Can I Do?

If your cat resists grooming, start by introducing grooming sessions gradually and with positive reinforcement. Use treats, praise, and short sessions to build their tolerance. If necessary, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for additional guidance, as they can often have tips for your specific problem.

Can I Use Human Grooming Products on My Cat?

No, it’s important to only use cat-specific grooming products. Human shampoos and soaps can be too harsh for a cat’s sensitive skin and may cause irritation or allergic reactions. They may also contain harmful ingredients that can be toxic if the cat ingests them. Therefore, you should always choose products specifically designed for cats.

hepper cat paw divider


Grooming your cat is crucial for maintaining their coat and helping them be happy and healthy. While many cats prefer to groom themselves, following the tips outlined here and establishing a bond with your pet before you get started will make it easier for you to help them out. Groom after playtime so they are more relaxed, and patient and gentle. Brush their teeth as frequently as possible, clean their ears, and trim their nails as needed. If your cat is especially resistant, try using a professional groomer who has the experience to help your cat and can provide tips that pertain to your specific cat.

Featured Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

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