Teaching Your Kitten or Adult Cat How to be Groomed, Handled, or Petted

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

How Start Natural Cat Grooming and Care

Teaching Your Cat or Kitten to Enjoy Brushing, Nail Trimming and Teeth Cleaning

As early as possible, you should start to get your kitten or cat comfortable with being handled, restrained, and groomed. You will frequently be brushing your cat's fur, brushing his teeth, reaching for him quickly, trimming his nails, and hopefully petting and loving him. These frequent actions can be quite challenging if you do not teach your cat now how to enjoy being handled, and to be calm and relaxed during handling and grooming.
Natural cat care and handling

Every cat or kitten should learn how to tolerate grooming—getting their teeth cleaned, nails trimmed and coat brushed—without biting, hissing, or trying to run away. Cat grooming care, including regular cat teeth cleaning and cat brushing, is essential to your cat’s overall health and wellbeing.

As early as possible, you should start to get your kitten or cat comfortable with being handled, restrained, and groomed. You will frequently be brushing your cat’s fur, brushing his teeth, reaching for him quickly, trimming his nails, and hopefully petting and loving him. These frequent actions can be quite challenging if you do not teach your cat now how to enjoy being handled, and to be calm and relaxed during handling and grooming.

In these daily exercises, you will be teaching your cat to trust you and to view these procedures as enjoyable and not stressful. If at any time your cat seems uncomfortable or stressed, or if he runs away, hisses, or attempts to bite or scratch, stop. Your goal is to work slowly and at your cat’s comfort level.

  1. Lightly scratch or touch your cat’s neck area, then give him a healthy cat treat.
  2. Touch the top of your cat’s foot, then give him a treat. Repeat with each foot.
  3. Pick up your cat’s front foot, then give him a treat. Repeat with each foot, his tail and ears.
  4. Put organic coconut oil on your finger and allow your cat to lick it off. Do this each day for 3 days. On day 4, gently place your finger with coconut oil inside your cat’s mouth along his gum line. Over time, work at lightly rubbing his gum line with your finger and coconut oil. Instant natural cat teeth cleaning!
  5. Gently stroke the top of your cat’s head, back, and tail, and give him a treat.
  6. Gently hug or pick up your cat, and give him a treat.
  7. Stroke your cat’s back with a soft brush, and give him a treat.

Repeat these steps with various family members, friends, and strangers. As your cat starts to look forward to these lessons, gradually increase the length of your touching. For example, instead of picking up your cat’s front paw and treating, pick up your cat’s paw and hold for a couple of seconds, then treat. You are working toward longer duration so that you can examine your cat’s body, give cat nail trims, brush your cat’s teeth, etc.

Do not get complacent in handling your kitten or cat. It is critical to help your cat feel comfortable and even look forward to regular grooming, petting, and handling. Practice these exercises on a daily basis, and remember to reward heavily for good behavior until your cat is totally happy with the exercise, then you can eliminate the food rewards. Remember, your cat must view all this as enjoyable. If he seems cautious on any of these things, proceed very slowly, or contact a professional cat behavior specialist.


How often do you brush your cat? Tell me in the comments.

As early as possible, you should start to get your kitten or cat comfortable with being handled, restrained, and groomed. You will frequently be brushing your cat's fur, brushing his teeth, reaching for him quickly, trimming his nails, and hopefully petting and loving him. These frequent actions can be quite challenging if you do not teach your cat now how to enjoy being handled, and to be calm and relaxed during handling and grooming.

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44 thoughts on “Teaching Your Kitten or Adult Cat How to be Groomed, Handled, or Petted

  1. These are great tips for dogs, too! We’re currently working on getting Henry used to having his feet touched. It’s a journey but all journeys are made up of little steps!

    1. Thanks! Hopefully, others in need will find it helpful. You’ll never know if another cat enters your life. 😉

    1. That sounds like a great class! It’s nice when there are outreach programs to help pet parents learn safe and stress-free handling.

  2. Great advice. I have always paid a lot of attention to our cats and they are very comfortable being handled – they love body massages and belly rubs and are happy with having their paws touched too (we call it pawflexology in our house!)

    1. Thank you. That’s awesome! I’ve always had cats that needed to learn to trust being handled. One is still in the process, Nutter, I can do anything now!

  3. Great tips! Some of my cats I adopted as kittens while others were older and less cooperative. Your advice for slowly getting them used to being groomed will definitely help a lot of frustrated cat parents.

  4. These are great tips, especially the finger licking method, works like a charm! Cats appreciate a calm approach too. I have tamed many ferals, it’s all in the manor you approach them.

    1. Thanks. Yes, finger licking is so nice. So many times people make teeth cleaning a stressful event. Just a little lick is helpful and build on that. 🙂

  5. I like this method of teaching your cat to get used to grooming activities. They would probably work well for dogs too. My dogs hate teeth brushings, I tried really hard but they still hate it. I bruch them a couple times a week. I brushed my cat maybe once a week.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Thank you. Yes, it’s so important to go slow, but to work at it. We need to be able to handle our pets and check them over. 🙂

  6. This is really great advice and frankly, nothing I would have thought of. So different than a pup – and yet somewhat similar! We will try this with our neighbor’s kitty – she lets us touch her, but I want to develop a bit of a habit of touching/reward. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Awesome! Yes, training a cat is pretty similar to training a dog. Patience, below anxiety and rewards. 🙂

  7. These are great tips. Our cat tolerates brushing, but he doesn’t really like it. I need to make it a better experience for him. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it’s important because you’ll never know when you need to handle your cat. And if he’s stressed or injured and uncomfortable about being handled, it’s really hard.

  8. My Nala loved being stroked by me on the head or back and I could groom her but if you touched her belly watch out. Kilo the Pug hates any stranger touching him and anyone at all messing with his feet. Luckily he has great hair and does not need much grooming. Good tips thanks.

    1. Thanks. You never know when an injury may occur that required foot handling or stranger handling. Keep up the practice.

  9. Such an important topic for pet parents! When cats get elderly, they often stop grooming themselves, and it is important to their health that we help them groom.

  10. I intentionally touch and pet my cats’ paws from the day they come home with me. They still don’t like having their nails trimmed, but they will put up with it. I also make sure that I am petting them all over. Perhaps because of this, I’ve never had a problem with having a cat that is sensitive to being petted anywhere on their body. Belly rubs are appreciated over here! 🙂

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