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( Originally Published 1938 )
If kitty preens as it purrs, it will be a more pleasing and a healthier cat. So, encourage vanity in your pet.
Brush it. Make a fuss over it. This attention raises your cat's sense of importance and induces it to give you effectual co-operation in grooming. You will be proud of your clean, neat appearing cat and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that grooming keeps your pet's skin and hair healthy and lessens the danger of mange or other annoying skin diseases. Your cat will need this personal equipment for successful grooming, and living:
1. A good bed. 2. Comb and brush. 3. A steel flea comb. 4. A ball (medium hard rubber, or celluloid). 5. A log. 6. A catnip supply. 7. Other toys to suit the cat's disposition (mice, rattles, catnip balls, etc.). A cat enjoys playing with familiar toys, so buy sturdy playthings that will last.
Every cat that lives indoors needs a scratching log. This should be a solid piece of bark-covered tree trunk in which the cat can claw to keep its nails worn to a comfortable length. An elaborate form of this log is a tree trunk several feet high, which gives an indoor cat a climbing playground.
Anybody who has watched a sleeping cat has noticed that these supple animals seem content, and able, to sleep anywhere. It is true that kitty can sleep on almost anything, but if it has a choice, it will pick out the softest spot in the house for a bed. This is certain evidence that the cat enjoys comfort.
A grown cat, untrained to the use of a bed, sleeps anywhere in the house. While this may seem to be an easy disposal of the sleeping problem, you may regret it, because there are sound reasons why a cat should have a bed of its own. Bed training is especially valuable when the cat is sick. It naturally stays in one spot, and this prevents the spread of disease germs to other equipment in your homeequipment that may re-infect the cat later. When the cat is over its ailment, it is much easier to disinfect its bed than it is to give the whole house germ-killing treatment.
When your cat sleeps in an official bed you have a better opportunity to keep down fleas. Just give your cat and its bed a flea treatment. If you own a Persian, a cat bed will help to keep its long hairs off the furniture. And if you move, and the new house is distressingly strange to your cat, Puss will find contentment if it can creep into its familiar bed and watch the excitement from that safe, known haven.
There are on the market many attractive wicker cat baskets, all of them equipped with soft cushions your cat will like. But you can also make a satisfactory, less expensive, cat bed from an ordinary box. Get a box about 18 to 20 inches long and six inches deep. Fill it to a depth of about four inches with shredded newspaper. Cover the paper with a little washable blanket-pillow ticking is satisfactory-but don't use a wool blanket. Some cats have a tendency to pull a wool blanket apart and swallow the shreds. A little flea powder, if necessary, should be sprinkled in the bottom of the box before the paper filler is placed. You will probably want to paint the box, because it will become part of the furniture of your home. Be certain that the paint is thoroughly dry and the box free from paint odor before you invite your cat to try its boxbed. Cats like to sit and lie well above the floor level, so find an elevated place for the bed.
Cats must be taught to enjoy, or at least tolerate, brushing. Need for this training is one of the best reasons for buying a kitten pet rather than a grown cat. An adult cat, unused to the brush and comb, is apt to be a rugged individualist about the matter. Sometimes it takes two full-grown people and several pairs of gloves to administer a brushing. If your grown cat is violent about brushings, you must just be patient. Try using a soft, small infant's brush. For the first few times you use it the cat may get the idea that this is just another kind of petting. Soon you can substitute stiffer brushes. A kitten that is trained to brushings develops a liking for the treatment.
What kind of brush?
Buy a bristle brush. Special cat brushes are sold in any pet shop. They have the right springiness and penetration, and will be more satisfactory than just any brush you find around the house. The brush must not be too stiff or you will injure the cat's skin. This fact must be considered, too, in buying a steel cat comb. Be certain that the teeth are rounded. Sharp points may cut the cat's skin and open the way for annoying infections.
Being gentle is most of the job of cat brushing. Lay the cat across your lap and start brushing upward against the pelt to get the loose hairs out. Use short, upward strokes. As you brush out one area, finish by brushing with the pelt, using long smooth strokes. When the back, tail, and neck are finished, turn the cat over and use the same procedure on its undersides. (If the cat objects at this point stand it on its hind legs to brush the stomach.) Stretch the legs outward and brush in the same manner, giving special attention to the joints.
Snarls and wads must be removed with caution, since one careless hair-pulling early in training may forever ruin the cat's toleration of brushing. In general, avoid giving pain; your cat will not understand it. If the wad or snarl seems too difficult to untangle, snip it off with a scissors. While this may cause a cropped spot to be apparent in the coat for a time, it is far better than turning the cat against brushing.
After finishing with comb and brush, polish the cat. Yes-literally! Rub your pet well with a chamois or piece of velvet, and its coat will take on a sheen of which you will be proud.
This routine sounds very simple, and it is with a welltrained cat. A cat that is accustomed to the brush and comb will relax easily, and will give full co-operation. So start brush-training during kittenhood.
Haw often should the cat be brushed?
Once a day, if you have the time. Certainly not less than two or three times a week. During the season when your cat is shedding its coat, it should be brushed daily. Three or four times a month, brush cornmeal into the cat's coat, and then brush it out again thoroughly. This is the cat's dry-cleaning. For this special brushing stand the cat on papers. A lapful of cornmeal is awkward when you start to stand up, after the cleaning.
NOTES ON BRUSHING: Brushing is done for health as well as appearance. The bristles working next to the coat stimulate the circulation, nourishing the cat's skin and hair. Also, brushing helps prevent hair balls. As you know, a cat grooms its own hair almost constantly with its tongue. Often loose hairs are carried from tongue to stomach, and in time a hair ball may form which may cause chronic digestive troubles or even kill the cat.
The long-haired breeds will require more brushing than short-haired cats. However, your short-haired cat must be brushed too, its pelt needs the stimulation.
Theoretically, it is thoroughly possible and practical that a cat should make its journey from the cradle to the grave without ever being inside a bath tub. Bathing the cat is a point about which there is considerable argument, and the best advice on the subject is: Don't bathe your cat unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Plenty of cats enjoy a soaping, or a swim in the bath tub. One cat I know has the astonishing habit of getting right into the bath along with any member of his owner's family, unless the person bathing locks the cat out of the bathroom. However, since the cat seems to be occasionally subject to bronchial infections after a bath, it is better not to risk a bath unless you are sure your pet will be thoroughly dried afterward. If there seems to be sufficient reason for bathing your cat, use this procedure:
1. Don't dunk your pet into a full tub of water the first time you wash it. Better give the first bath in the wash bowl. Warm water, from a pan or pitcher, should be poured slowly over the cat until you have given it a thorough wetting.
2. Use a bland soap. Be careful not to get the soap into the cat's ears, eyes, or nose. Work the soap lather gently through the pelt, massaging with your fingers. A firm hold over the shoulders supports the cat and prevents struggling.
3. Rinse every particle of soap from the fur with mildly warm water.
4. Again, as when drying dogs, don't spare the towels in freeing kitty from dangerous dampness. However, while a vigorous rubbing will only increase your dog's pep, a too brisk drying may over-excite a cat. As a result you will probably have to get a stepladder and haul your half-drenched pussy off the chandelier. Take the drying easy, but be thorough.
5. Keep your cat in a warm place for at least six hours after a bath. A longer time is even better. The brush and comb should be used to hasten drying.
Important in a cat's life are a varied supply of playthings. Its toys give the cat exercise and relieve its boredom. The simplest cat plaything is a clothespin dangling from a string. Most cats will enjoy playing with a ball-but the ball must be hard. Cats will tear up sponge rubber balls, or soft-surfaced balls, and may swallow pieces of them.
Cats seem to like toys that rattle, and they also get great fun out of small "wind-up" mice. Cats also like the catnip mice pet shops sell. Just because your cat has playthings, don't forget to play with it yourself. You'll enjoy the sport, and your cat will love it. Playing with a dog usually involves some of the exertions of a regular track meet, but it is possible to play quite adequately with your cat without leaving your chair. Any game involving a toy at the end of a string will find kitty interested.
To quote any dictionary, catnip is a member of the mint family. But if your cat could be quoted, you would probably learn that the scented minty leaves are a combination of old wine, the fountain of youth, Saturday night on Main Street, and the Fourth of July. Dried, and scattered a few leaves at a time where your cat can get it, catnip will usually send kitty to the seventh heaven of bliss.
Catnip grows wild in many places, and the soft green leaves are easily recognized once they have been pointed out to you. As mentioned before, catnip playthings can be purchased. There is no set rule as to how often catnip should be given to a cat. Some owners use it as a means of rewarding pets for good behavior.