While all cats are very efficient self-groomers, long-haired felines in particular need hands-on help to prevent matting and take care of normally occurring shedding. Indoor cats, especially in homes with both heat and air-conditioning, can be in a constant state of shedding because their biological system becomes confused by temperature controls.
Rule No. 1
The main rule for long-haired cats is a simple one. The more hair a cat has, the more often maintenance is required. And, “more hair” also translates into the density and “fluffiness” of the hair, not just longer length.
According to Lynn Paolillo, CFMG, CFCG, an instructor with the National Cat Groomers Institute, long-haired felines require combing several times a week to prevent the fur from matting.
The areas that tend to mat fastest include the:
- rear legs
- base of tail leading up the back
Use a comb
“Combs are best especially when it comes to removing knots and tangles,” Lynn explains. “Slicker brushes and de-shedding rakes are too harsh for delicate cat skin. They can damage hair, which makes mats form faster.”
The National Cat Groomers Institute recommends a 6- to 8-inch-long metal comb with fine to medium teeth. This comb will remove dead coat and catch all the tangles and mats that lay hidden underneath without irritating a cat’s delicate skin.
A rubber curry brush is also great for lifting loose hair, and it gives a very enjoyable massage, too.
Bath or grooming wipe
While bathing does help get rid of loose hair, most pet parents skip a bathing routine — unless they are grooming a cat for the show ring — because most cats are generally not fond of water and find it stressful. If you would like to help your kitty get clean, try grooming wipes specially formulated for cats.
Dealing with mats
This is a very delicate procedure. Never take small pointed scissors and cut into the mat because it’s very easy to cut into the skin beneath that’s hidden below the mat. Special blunt-nosed scissors should be used to work just the surface of the mat and slowly pry the hair apart. Any really serious clumping and matting should be handled by a professional cat groomer or at a veterinarian’s office.
We can thank our fabulous long-haired felines for coining the term glamour-puss. They epitomize all the hype of being well-groomed and beautifully coiffed. But to be dazzling takes a lot of hands-on grooming.