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Can You Brush Your Cat Too Much? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Chelsea Mortensen

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

mans hand combing maine coon cat with hair brush

Can You Brush Your Cat Too Much? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Every cat has a different coat, and finding the best coat care routine can take some trial and error. Whether you’ve got a low-shedding shorthair or a luxurious longhair, your cat could use occasional help with brushing. But did you know that you can brush your cat too much? Over-brushing happens when you brush your cat too often or don’t use the right kind of brush for your cat’s coat.

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How Often Do Cats Need Brushing?

Although every cat is different, there are a few basic coat types that you can look out for. Depending on your cat’s coat, you will need to change your grooming routine.

woman brushing the Persian cat
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

Shorthair Cats

Shorthair cats will only need occasional brushing. Depending on the cat, this might mean that you’ll want to brush them seasonally when shedding more, or you might need to brush them once a week or so. Shorthair cats need help brushing their coats, mostly when they are shedding, and they won’t need any detangling help. As your shorthair cat gets older, you might need to brush more as your cat struggles to keep clean.

Medium Coat Cats

Cats with medium-length coats will need regular brushing, but they aren’t likely to get big knots and tangles. Brushing will help their coats stay soft and shiny, and remove any minor clumps. Regular brushing will also help your cat avoid hairballs. Try brushing your cat somewhere between once a week and every other day.

Longhair Cats

Long-haired cats have serious fur, and it needs work to stay pretty. Most longhair cats will get mats and tangles if they aren’t brushed regularly; their own grooming just won’t cut it. You can expect to brush your cat’s fur everyday or every other day, so that tangles won’t have time to develop. Expect to clean out a lot of shed fur along the way—the more that ends up in your brush, the less you’ll find on your couch.

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Signs of Over-Brushing

grooming brush with cat fur
Image Credit by: RJ22, Shutterstock

Even though some cats need brushing every day, you can still hurt your cat by brushing too much or brushing the wrong way. Not all cats love being brushed, but it shouldn’t be a painful experience. You also shouldn’t be yanking out hair that hasn’t shed—a brush should straighten tangles and remove loose hair, not pull out the hair that’s still attached. If your cat is developing bald spots related to brushing, you might be over-brushing.

Another sign of over-brushing is irritated skin. If your cat’s skin starts to get red or flakey, or your cat seems to be in pain, you may be brushing too much. The brushes you use should always be gentle on your cat’s skin, but even a gentle brush can cause pain if it’s repeated too often.

What Kind of Brush Does My Cat Need?

There are a few different types of brushes out there for grooming, and it’s good to know what you need to help your cat’s coat stay clean and groomed. A bristle brush has soft bristles all over, like a toothbrush. These are usually plastic, but some brushes also use boar bristles. Bristle brushes are good for smoothing hair and removing shed fur, but they don’t get down into the underlayers of a cat’s coat and don’t detangle. If your cat has sensitive skin and doesn’t need much in the way of brushing, a bristle brush might be a good choice. Or it works well as a final smoothing on longhair cats after you’ve finished detangling.

A wire or pin brush is made with evenly spaced metal or plastic pins. It’s a good all-purpose brush that will smooth out fur and do some light detangling. It’s ideal for cats with short or medium coats. However, it’s important not to use too much pressure with these brushes, especially if you’re using a brush with metal pins. These can “rake” your cat’s sensitive skin and may cause irritation. If you’re concerned about using a brush on your cat, try running it down the inside of your arm. If it feels sharp or uncomfortable, you’re using too much pressure or need to change to a different brush.

Rubber or silicone brushes have soft grips and prongs for grooming and claim to feel more like a massage for the cat. They are effective at removing shedding hair.

Detangling brushes are used to straighten out longer coats and work through small tangles. There are different styles of detangling brushes and combs, but most have long, wide teeth that will help keep your cat’s coat clean without causing pain. You shouldn’t have to yank or tug on the brush to get it through your cat’s fur—if you’re struggling, you’re probably not brushing your cat enough. If a longhair cat develops matted fur, you shouldn’t ever try to brush it out. Instead, gently cut out the mats on the coat’s outside. If the mats are too close to the surface of your cat’s skin, it’s better to go to a professional groomer instead of trying to cut them out yourself.

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Last Thoughts

As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to brushing. Each cat will need some adjustment to find a routine and frequency that works for you. If you see signs you’re over-brushing your cat, that’s okay. Just take it down a notch until your cat is getting the care that they need.


Featured Image Credit: Sergey Fatin, Shutterstock

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