When you brought a long-haired cat into your home, you signed up for a commitment to daily coat care, whether or not you knew that at the time. In order to avoid mats, which can lead to sores and even infections, it’s crucial to give your cat’s hair daily attention. Here are five tips to help you in your quest to keep your furry friend looking gorgeous.
1. Get the right tools for the job
Grooming long-haired cats requires some specialized tools. Most groomers recommend a wire slicker brush, an undercoat brush with a combination of wide and narrow teeth, a finer-toothed comb to go through the undercoat after you use the narrower brush, a flea comb for short-furred areas like the head, and a mat splitter. You may be able to substitute a letter opener like the one shown here for a mat splitter.
2. Get them started young
It’s best to start getting your cat acquainted with grooming at an early age. Professional groomers and breeders say you can begin grooming your kitten as young as eight weeks of age.
3. Build trust a little bit at a time
Not all long-haired cats get used to grooming as kittens, however, so you may still have a job in front of you when you begin grooming an adult cat. The good news is that while you’re acquainting her with the joy of a good brushing and combing, you can start easy. In the beginning, groom her back first. Cats tend to be less stressed when you’re not approaching vulnerable parts like the belly. Be sure to reward her patience with her favorite treats.
4. Be sure to groom your whole cat
Mats are most likely to form in the armpits and abdomen, so don’t neglect these areas when you brush and comb your cat.
5. Be gentle when you find mats
Don’t tug on mats. It hurts and you may rip your cat’s delicate skin. Instead, use a mat splitter to cut the mat into smaller pieces, which you can then remove with a comb. I’ve also found that if you can grasp the hair by the roots and begin combing the mat out from the end of the hair, it relieves some of the pain of tugging and allows you to get the mat out a little bit at a time.
This video shows a groomer working on a long-haired cat. The production value isn’t awesome, but you can see what’s involved.
If you go to a professional groomer, ask her or him for tips on how you can keep your cat’s coat in good shape between appointments.
Do you have a long-haired cat? Do you have any special grooming tips for caretakers of fluffy felines? Please share them in the comments!