Tips for Bathing and Grooming Siberian Cats
Siberians are not high-maintenance cats in terms of grooming. If you arm yourself with quality grooming tools and give them a good brushing at least once a week - then stepping things up to daily grooming during molting season, this really should be enough.
Good grooming tools to have include a slicker brush and a metal toothed comb to tease out knots or tangles, and a soft brush to finish up. Start out by stroking your cat to determine if there are any knots or tangles. You usually won't find any since a Siberian cat's coat has natural oils to help maintain his fur, but if you do find some matting, use the comb to tease the knot apart. Don't pull, since this can be painful for your cat. If the knot is tight, start at the ends farther from the skin, and begin detangling, but as gently as possible.
Work your way through his coat. When there aren't any mats or tangles, comb through his coat from head to tail, going with the direction of the hair growth. Doing this once a week gets rid of most of the shedding hair, stimulates the natural oils in the skin, and also serves to relax your Siberian. This is a great bonding time for you and your cat. Finish up with a soft brush all over. You might find that this last brushing is particularly pleasurable to your cat, as it approximates maternal licking and grooming.
During molting season, which can last about 10 days, you'll find the hair starting to mat and shed in large clumps. How profuse the shedding is depends largely on each individual cat, but you should adopt daily brushing during this time to help the molting along, and to prevent the matting of his fur. You can use the bristle brush to good effect at this time, and large clumps of molting fur will come off with the brush.
Siberian cats do love water, and while for some this means they also love bathing, this is not necessarily true for all cats. In fact, unless you've gotten them used to bathing, we bathe our kittens regularly so they are used to it. Bathing will also help get rid of all loose fur.
If you do decide that it is a good idea to bathe your cat - perhaps they are still kittens and you want them to get used to baths, or perhaps you intend to enter him in the show circuit later on, make sure to use quality cat shampoo. If your cat seems unappreciative of his bath, let him go and try again another time. Forcing him when he clearly wants to be elsewhere will only ruin the experience for him, and it will be doubly difficult to get him into the bath next time. Besides, bathing too often can actually strip their coat of its natural oils. With enough patience and time, you will find your Siberian appreciating his occasional bath - some Siberians are reputed to love the water so much that they even attempt to join their owners in the shower!
The only reminder for bathing a Siberian is to make sure that you have rinsed their coat thoroughly. They have a very thick fur, and it is essentially waterproof, so bathing them and getting the shampoo in can be a challenge, but rinsing the shampoo off is doubly more so. Half of the bathing time can be spent in rinsing, but this is not something that you should do half-heartedly, either. Remember that cats will groom themselves, so they might just lick off the residue of the shampoo from their coat and ingest it if traces were left in their coat. Dry him off with a towel and a dryer set on low heat.
An easier and gentler alternative to bathing, and possibly more enjoyable for both you and your cat - is to use soft kitty wipes - to give their coat a gentle bath, and is particularly helpful in cleaning their face and nose. Wipe off any discharges in the corners of his eyes and any dirt from his nose and whiskers.
And last but not least, don't forget to keep their litterbox clean. Doing so can go a long way in helping your cat keep his coat clean and hygienic.
Other Grooming Tasks
To complete grooming your Siberian, there are other grooming tasks to finish off your cat's sharp and spiffy look. This includes trimming their nails, cleaning his ears, and brushing his teeth (optional).
Trimming Your Cat's Nails
Make sure you get a quality cat nail trimmer - don't use human nail clippers since these are not designed for cat claws and can actually injure or ruin their claws. Just squeeze their paws until the claws are revealed - and clip! Just don't trim too much of the claw or you will end up cutting the quick, or the flesh underneath the nail. You can see this quite clearly if their claws are white, but for darker claws, just trip conservatively along the edge. I do demonstrations for new owners of my kitttens.
Cleaning Your Cat's Ears
Always be gentle when cleaning your cat's ears -these are very sensitive and using the wrong tools, such as a q-tip, can potentially hurt or damage their ear canal. Use instead some liquid ear cleaner on a clean cotton ball or a piece of gauze. Clean the inside of your cat's ears gently, lifting away any debris or earwax that you can see.
Make it a habit to examine your cat's ears at least once a week. Be on the lookout for dark-colored debris, a strange odor, excessive wax, discharges, redness, or swelling. If you mended do find any of these in your cat's ears, it is recommended that you have him checked by a veterinarian. It is quite possible that he may have ear mites or some form of ear disease.Regular weekly ear cleaning should help to prevent these diseases from starting in the first place.
Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
While regular brushing is recommended, a good weekly dental care is good enough. Use good cat toothpaste and toothbush. This keeps their breath smelling fresh and clean, and can go a long way in keeping your cat healthy -staving off dental disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and even heart disease!
You might want to start them out when they're kittens - having a foreign object rubbing against their teeth is not something cats are used to, so it might take a few tries before they finally get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed. If you start them out young, the habit of it will grow on them as they mature, and even if they never grow fond of it, they will at least learn to tolerate it.
If you are dealing with an adult Siberian, however, perhaps using a cat toothbrush is too much of a strange thing for them. An alternative is simply using some microfiber washcloths, which you can use in the same way as a toothbrush. Make sure it is wet with warm water, and use a finger to guide the cloth along your cat's teeth and gums.