What Does a De-Shedding Tool Do?
Densely-furred cats have combination coats made up of longer, coarser top fur and softer, finer inner fur that creates a warm air-trapping blanket for the skin in cold weather. It is the cat's undercoat that tends to tangle, mat and clump as it is shed if it is not groomed carefully. In extreme cases, the unfortunate result is a weakened and dulled coat, or a thick thatch that must be simply shaved.
A de-shedding tool for cat grooming reaches past the longer outside hairs and removes the inner coat hairs before they mat and thatch. It protects the coat for future growth and keeps the skin surface clean and properly aired and stimulated. The de-shedding tool does not cut hair, but it allows hair that has already detached from the hair follicle to be discarded. Most cats do not find the process uncomfortable and they enjoy the comfort of a coat not bound up with mats.
The de-shedding tool is not analogous to the thinning scissors that stylists use to reduce bulk in human hair. Thinning scissors cut; the de-shedder releases loose hair.
Long-haired cats benefit from the de-shedding tool. Because de-shedding helps prevent hairballs, de-shedding is a health enhancement for all cats, especially Himalayan and Persian types. (Rabbits, especially Angoras, also benefit from the de-shedding tool.)
While the de-shedding tool prevents mats and tangles, it does not easily or comfortably remove them, so it should be used regularly, about once a week, in order to maintain a well-groomed coat. Winter and summer, the tool can be used according to schedule, but users will notice that the bulk of fur removal happens in spring and summer when cats naturally shed. Therefore, users do not need to worry about the de-shedding tool thinning out a thick coat. It will not cut hair that is attached to the follicle.
Cat owners will see less build up of extra hair on furniture, clothing and under the couch if the de-shedding tool is used regularly.
Dog de-shedding tools and cat de-shedding tools are similar, although cat tools tend to be smaller. The "Furminator" is one of the highest-recommended and marketed de-shedding tools with models designed for cats and dogs of all sizes and hair types.
To use a de-shedding tool, separate the coat into layers as you would for a comb-out and run the tool over the layers like a comb. Remove the fur that adheres to the tines regularly to keep the tool easy-to-use and effective.
About the Author: Helen Fazio and her dog Raja blog on pet travel and related topics at www.traveldogbooks.com. In their first book, "The Journey of the Shih Tzu," Raja tells the wolf to woof story of the development of this amazing breed. They are working on forthcoming titles.
Related Advice from Other Cat Owners
How to Get Your Cat to Accept Grooming
My cat was terrible to groom when I first got her. She had to be completely shaven as she had fur "wings" off her body at least eight inches out.
What worked for us was shaving her completely, and then I would give her two days with the grooming tools out next to the treats. The next day, when she was letting me pet her, I'd casually pick one up, but I wouldn't use it on her.
We did this for probably about three more days. Eventually, I found out that she really loves getting her face scratched. So I started using the greyhound comb just on her cheeks. At first, she was a little put off, but she quickly warmed up. She loves getting her face brushed now. I'll do two or three swipes on her cheeks, and then gently do her back.
Every day, I start with her face, then slowly move to another body part. It's been about eight months, and I still don't groom her in one fell swoop, but every two days I probably finish up whole body.
The trick for me was this: when we were first starting out and saw that she was uncomfortable, I'd either move back to her face where she loved it or soothe her and give her a treat and then be done for the day.
This way, grooming was never scary. I also brushed her every day when she didn't have hair, just to keep her going and used to it, and it worked!
~Mandii E., owner of Himalayan
Shampooing Your Cat Can Help Shedding Problems
Most long haired cats need some help with their fur. Since I started showing Maine Coons, I have learned the fine art of the cat shampoo. And learned that shampooing my cats removes TONS of dead fur. I highly recommend the occasional shampoo.
My cats have no hairball problems because they are shampooed regularly. Yes, we do have shedding, but we would have more shedding if I didn't shampoo them regularly. Any shampoo that works for your cat is fine. Maine Coons tend to get greasy, and dish detergent is often used. Find out what shampoo works for your cat.
Personally, I think that if you aren't up to grooming your long haired cat, you should have chosen a short hair. On the other hand, using that as an excuse to put the cat in a shelter sounds cruel. Learn to groom.
~Valerie D., owner of Maine Coon
Constant Maintenance is Key to Controlling Cat Fur
I've come to the conclusion that constant maintenance is the key, at least for my long-haired cats. I use one of those furminator de-shedding tools to wipe out much of the undercoat, but still, even with vigilant brushing and vacuuming, there's still hair everywhere.
I balked at the price of furminators when I bought mine initially, but I feel they do work well, and the blade on mine has yet to wear out after over two years. Furminate, then brush a few times weekly, but either way, long-haired cats are prone to matted fur which needs to be clipped out periodically.
~Aaron L., owner of Domestic Long Hair
Helping Your Cat with Hairballs
You can help the hairball situation by grooming your cats with a Furminator, Zoom Groom, or the professional groomers' favorite, a metal comb. A regular bristle brush or a metal pin brush can also be useful, depending on your cat's particular fur type. Finally, a bath every once in a while (make sure to scrub well and rinse, rinse, rinse) will also do wonders for getting rid of loose and dead hair. If you help out your cat with regular grooming, there won't be so much necessity for hairball remedies or hairball control food.
~Valerie D., owner of a Maine Coon
If Your Cat Vomits a Lot
If your kitty vomits a lot and hasn't been to the vet in a while, I would take her to the vet for an exam. I have a cat that vomits a good deal sometimes and there is nothing wrong with her, as she maintains her weight. But, something could be wrong with your kitty and only a vet could diagnose the problem. When one of my cats starting vomiting and losing weight, he became allergic to the foods he was eating. It could so many things.
~Patricia P., owner of a cat
Don't Get Too Alarmed
As long as the hairball is mainly hair, I would not worry. It is a normal part of being a cat. I give my cats Petromalt, which they absolutely love and lick right off my fingers. Give it 2-3 times a week until hairball symptoms subside and then lower it to once or twice.
Brushing and bathing can also help remove the loose hair and can help reduce hairballs. I have also heard that Vaseline, butter, and canned pumpkin can help reduce hairballs (although I am not sure of the proper amounts on these last few).
~Ellie C., owner of a Domestic Shorthair