Question from Emelene,
Hi, I have an one-year-old female Maine Coon. She does not allow me to brush her. In fact, she will attack me when I try to brush her. What can I do? She needs to be groomed because of her long hair. I hope you can give me some advise. Thank you, Emelene.
Answer from Amy:
Though some cats have no trouble being brushed, others may be very resistant, especially when you are brushing their belly or legs. Below are a few tips for grooming kitties that are not fond of being brushed:
Make sure your kitty’s nails are trimmed before you brush her. Often cats’ natural defense mechanism compels them to scratch when certain areas of their body are touched. Keeping their nails clipped short will help reduce your chances of being injured.
Pet your cat gently and put her in a calm and relaxed state. Touch your cat’s back, sides, belly, tail and legs as you pet her so as to get your kitty used to touching. Speak with a soft, somewhat high-pitched tone to your cat through out the entire process.
Allow your kitty to sniff and smell the brush. Cats are more nervous with things that they are not familiar with. Since cats rely heavily on their sense of smell, it would be helpful to let your cat inspect the brush before using it. Your cat will initially sniff it, then once her nose reaches the bristles, she will proceed to scratch her face with the bristles. She is not itching or massaging her face with the brush. Cats do that to leave their own scent (facial pheromone) to things, so that they can identify them when they come around again.
Continue petting your cat, then in the mid way through the petting, lay your brush on the back of the neck and work it down along the spine till you reach the tail bone. Brush very gently if your cat is extremely alert about being brushed. The most sensitive part of a cat’s body is their belly. Do not go down to the belly until you think your cat is completely comfortable with the brush.
Slowly brush your way down to the side. Your cat may walk away as you brush. Pause when she is knowingly annoyed and wants to leave. Go back to petting immediately and tell your cat “Good job” for what she just did. Once your cat has calmed down, introduce the brush again and go very slowly and gently with brushing. Every time your cat tolerates a stroke, reward her by petting and saying “Good job! Good girl!”
If your cat gets really stressed out with the brush, bring her favorite treats with you. Initially reward her for every stroke she takes, then gradually reduce the frequency of giving treats. Also, you want to reward her every time after you finish grooming. Soon she will realize that brushing is a positive experience. Some people feed their cat a bit of mayo while brushing. Even though their cats are not pleased with the brush, they are too busy munching and licking the goodies to fight off the “intruder.”
When your cat is about to grab your hand as part of their defense reflex, pause and wait till your cat has cooled down. If you keep going while being grabbed, bit and kicked by your cat, she would think you are playing with her and it is all right for her to attack your hand. By stopping everything you are doing, you are telling her that you do not want to play rough.
Choose a brush that your cat will enjoy. I have tried many different brushes. KONG Zoom Groom Cat Brush is by far my favorite. It removes loose hair easily and is gentle on my cats with its soft bristles, but mostly my cats love it and enjoy being brushed because of it.