Long-haired cats are handsome, elegant, and wonderful to pet. For all the beauty that long, luxurious hair offers, it also requires upkeep and can lead to problems. Do you know how best to care for your long-haired cat?
Basic hair care for cats.
The good news is, your cat knows how to clean herself or himself and will spend time doing so. In most cases, you don’t need to do much to keep long-haired cats’ clean and neat. There are a few steps that you, as their owner, can do to help keep them healthy beyond their own ability:
- Give good nutrition. Cats who don’t eat a nutritious diet can develop hair problems. Additionally, cats who are overweight can have problems keeping themselves clean. So feeding the proper amount nutritious food is the first and most important step in ensuring a healthy coat.
- Gently brush your cat 1-2 times/week. Brushing helps remove dirt and dead hairs from your cats, and stimulates the skin. They will also likely enjoy the time with you. Especially as your cats get older and have more trouble washing themsleves, this regular brushing is important for skin and coat health.
- Brush more of your long-haired cat. A simple brush down their back won’t care for all that hair enough. You need to spend time on all of your cat’s sections. Part the middle of their tail to brush hair down both sides. Brush their belly first, then brush the hair on each side of their back. Don’t forget her chest and head.
- Only give baths when necessary. Your cat bathes herself regularly, so you likely won’t need to have a regular bath routine, and bathing too often can even lead to coat problems. But if your cats get especially dirty, you’ll have to clean them. Some people can give cats baths at home, while others find this task impossible (you may have heard that cats don’t like water!). Often, you can clean a cat well using a wet washcloth. But if they’re very dirty, smell bad, or got into something potentially dangerous, visit a groomer or vet to have them bathed properly.
- Check for knots or mats. If you find a knot, brush it out thoroughly. If it’s matted, read on for tips to remove knots and mats. It’s important that you don’t ignore these, as they only get worse and can cause pain and skin problems.
How to remove knots and mats.
If you come across a knot, work on it gently to untangle it fully. Leaving even a small knot can cause matting, which can lead to bigger problems. Your cat likely won’t enjoy the detangling process, so offer treats, take your time, and get another person to help, if needed.
If you have to remove a mat, don’t get it wet, as that can make it harder to sort out (this means don’t bathe your cat before a brushing or detangling session). You can use pet-friendly detangling spray to help remove the mat. Work gently with a wide-toothed comb starting at the end of the mat, while holding the skin to avoid pulling. You can also find mat-removal combs, often called razors, that simplify this task. Avoid using scissors to cut out the mat, as you can easily hurt your cat’s skin or cause further problems with her hair. If the mat is so bad that you can’t untangle it, consider visiting the vet or a groomer to help remove it.
Should I shave my cat?
Sometimes there are circumstances where shaving a cat can help. If your cats can no longer groom themselves (due to age or health issues), if they have severely matted hair, or if they cannot reach certain areas to keep clean, then shaving may help. Talk to a vet first if you’re concerned that a medical issue may require a shave. In many cases, trimming the hair may work better than shaving.
If you have further questions about your cat’s hair, please make an appointment today to talk to the Animal Clinic of Woodruff’s vets. We’re happy to help with all cat care, from advice on everyday grooming to handling serious issues.