By Julia Williams
Long haired kitties are so lovely to look at, but that floofy fur coat comes with a commitment to regular grooming. Yes, most felines do groom themselves, but long haired cats still need help in order to keep their coat looking luxurious. Regular grooming can also reduce the amount of hair and debris your cat ingests during self grooming, which should also decrease the number of hairballs they cough up.
Here are some tips to help you keep your feline friend’s coat silky soft, shiny and mat free.
How Often to Groom?
How much grooming a long haired cat needs depends on several things, including the type and texture of the fur, breed, age, lifestyle (indoor or outdoor) and their overall health. Some long coats almost never tangle, while others can become matted overnight. If your cat’s coat is prone to matting, daily brushing/combing may be necessary. Otherwise, about three times per week should suffice.
Essential Grooming Tools
Grooming long-haired cats requires a small investment in the proper equipment. The right grooming tools make the job easier for you and will produce the best results. You may not need everything on this list, but in my experience, there’s really no such thing as “too many” grooming tools.
● A wire slicker brush. This flat, metal brush has small, fine wire bristles that are bent at an angle. Wire slickers will remove any loose fur and can help to keeping long hair from getting matted.
● An undercoat rake has a combination of wide and narrow teeth. It looks like a miniature version of a leaf rake and is a good tool to have for double-coated cats. They can help to thin the thick undercoat and keep it from getting tangled.
● A deshedding tool such as the Furminator will greatly reduce loose fur. I use this tool often, and even with regular use I remove so much fur from my long haired cat that I almost have enough to make a small cat! (Be careful not to go overboard with this tool, though).
● A soft-bristled brush is good for removing dirt, debris, dead skin cells and loose hair from your cat’s coat. It’s also nice to use at the end of a grooming session to distribute the oils through the coat, which makes it shiny and smooth.
● Metal combs with teeth that are far apart are good for keeping a dense undercoat from matting.
● A mat splitter does just what it says. Sometimes mats are unavoidable no matter how much you groom your long haired cat, and must be removed for good coat health. In a pinch you can use a seam ripper to break up mats.
● A flea comb has teeth that are close together. These are useful not only for helping to remove fleas from your cat, but for grooming areas with short fur such as the head.
Get Into a Routine
It’s never too early to get your cat used to regular grooming sessions. Have a special place where you groom them, and keep your tools nearby. If they are like my Annabelle, they may enjoy this routine and run to their special place when you hold up their brush and say (with enthusiasm!) “Time for brushy” or something similar.
Make it Fun
Even if your cat isn’t eager for brushing time, you can help make the grooming experience a positive experience by offering them some CANIDAE cat treats as a reward. Also, end every grooming session with pets and love, so they know it’s a good thing.
Know When to Quit
Even cats who love to be brushed have limits. Tolerance for grooming varies a great deal from cat to cat, and also from day to day with the same cat. Be aware of body language that tells you when your cat has had enough. A swishing tail, growling, swiping at you with their claws, giving you the “stink eye” and trying to nip your hand are all signs that it’s quitting time. If you don’t get the job done in one sitting, try again later. It can help to start the process when your cat is sleeping, particularly if you have mats to deal with.
Groom Head to Toe
Mats are prone to forming on the cat’s belly fur and under the arms, so be sure to groom these areas regularly. Cats with furry bottoms may also need a “sanitary trim” there, which will reduce the frequency of cling-ons, aka dingleberries.
Don’t tug hard on mats or brush your cat with such gusto that it hurts them. To be effective, grooming needs to take place regularly and be a positive experience, and causing them pain will make them fearful.
Do you have any other tips for grooming long haired cats? Please share with us in the comments!
Read more articles by Julia Williams