Your kitten will spend a lot of her day grooming. Not only does grooming help your kitten look after her coat, but it also controls parasites and reinforces social bonds.
Grooming is a great way to build up your relationship with your kitten, because it mimics the social bonds between a mother cat and her babies. Try to establish good grooming habits early on – the more you encourage your cat's natural behaviour, the more you’ll understand her and enjoy her company.
Playing with the brush
Your kitten may be nervous when you brush her for the first time. Help her relax by letting her play with the comb and brush – she’ll soon get used to them. Stroke your kitten very gently all over – particularly on her stomach and in hard-to-reach places – so she gets comfortable with being handled.
How to groom
Before you actually start to use the brush and comb, spend a moment stroking your kitten gently. Then comb through her coat from head to tail, being particularly gentle around the head. Check the condition of her coat and skin, and look for signs of fleas or other parasites. Then brush the fur to remove any dead hair.
Tease out any tangled hair with your fingers and remove it before you groom your kitten properly. Don’t worry – if you groom your kitten regularly, tangles shouldn’t happen often. If your kitten is in a bit of a mess, dip a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze it out, and use it to wipe her down. Please don't use soap though – it'll just irritate her skin.
Clear eyes and ears
Once you've finished brushing your kitten, check her eyes and ears. If your kitten’s eyes are a bit weepy, clean them carefully using a cotton ball moistened with warm water. Make sure you use different swab for each eye.
If your kitten's ears aren't clear, wipe them with a dry cotton ball. Don't delve beyond the area of the ear that you can see, or poke anything solid inside. If you can see a lot of dark wax in there, ask your vet for advice.
Your kitten's teeth should be clean and free from deposits, and her gums should be a healthy pink colour. Check your kitten’s mouth regularly so she gets used to it – it’ll make things a lot easier when you need to clean her teeth or give her medicine.
Your kitten loves to scratch her territory – it's a natural behaviour that helps her hunt and scent-mark. A scratching post will act as a file for her claws, but you'll need to clip them when she gets a little older. Get her used to the idea by handling her paws from an early age – that way she'll be more cooperative when she's an adult. Your vet can show you how to do it.