Short haired cats are fairly easy to manage. They just need a thorough
brushing with a tight slicker brush such as the
Warner Original Slicker
or love glove to
pull loose hair from the coat.
Long haired cats, on the other hand, can be very complicated. Most
long haired breeds have considerable, dense "undercoat" next to the skin.
It is this undercoating that grows in seasonally to keep them warm in
winter and then sheds to let them stay cool in summer.
During the shedding process, it can become matted and tangled in the
longer hairs and produce huge and uncomfortable mats.
Why are some long haired cats more prone to mats? It has to do with the
quality of the hair: Some hair is silky and will not hold tangles. Some hair
is cottony and is extremely difficult to keep tangle-free. (silver or chinchilla
persians come to mind most frequently in the latter category)
Long-haired cats should be brushed routinely. First use the
Universal Slicker Brush followed by the
Warner Slicker Brush followed by the
Start kittens getting used to lying in your lap and having their
tummies rubbed and brushed without squirming and fighting. Routine brushing
becomes quite pleasant for your cat if you do it often and don't wait until
Things you should know before you start grooming
- Cats have very thin and pliable skin. This is important, because too
forceful pulling or ripping can actually tear the skin.
Additionally, using scissors to cut mats has often led to giant gashes
when skin is pulled up into the mat
and then mistakenly sliced off with the scissors along with the mat.
- Cats use nails and teeth to resist grooming. The claws should be
trimmed blunt before starting the procedure.
See cat claw clippers.
Don't make the mistake of feeling like a front-de-clawed cat is no threat.
Many, many declawed cats have learned to be quite ferocious biters.
Additionally, it is the rear feet that are used to do the most damage.
Be calm and be careful.
- Cats are hard to restrain. You must adjust your attitude. Remain
calm, un-hurried, and non-forceful.
The best option is to try to restrain as
little as possible. If you can brush or comb while the cat actually walks or
crawls away, then re-position and let him walk or crawl away again
(over and over) it will give him a sense of control over the situation, and
both of you will accomplish your goal.
- If it becomes necessary to restrain him (or part of him) while you
groom, see the cat sack and
Don't try to restrict the cat's tail. Cats use their
tail to dissipate tension by swishing back and forth. Just try to work
- Cats seem to have a remarkable sense about who likes them. It
is especially important that you perform these procedures in an unhurried
manner, and that you don't get stressed out yourself. Talk in a
soft, soothing tone of voice, stopping occasionally to stroke
the cat's body.
If your cats are particularly high strung or nervous,
there are a couple of all-natural
calmatives or tranquilizers
that might help. You want him to be just drowsy, not asleep.
However, if you are going to use a calmative or tranquilizer,
experiment with it BEFORE you groom to be sure what the effect will be.
Cats sometimes react just the opposite of the way you would expect.
(It might be best for YOU to take the tranquilizer :*)
- If your cats have only a few mats, you may be able to work them out by
using the corner of a slicker brush to work
on the mat from the outside into its felted center. If you are
successful, it will break apart into a few, looser finger-like pieces.
Move the mat(s) away from the skin (working a little at a time) so that
it hangs loosely from the ends of the longer hairs. Then a
greyhound style comb will gently
pull it out to be tossed in the garbage.
However, if the mats are dense and bound very tightly to the skin,
it will probably be necessary to "shave" them out using
grooming clippers which can slide gently
between the mat and the skin without cutting the skin.
Equipment for shaving or clipping the hair short:
- If it becomes necessary to use grooming clippers to shave
under the mats you will need a professional set of
clippers and a couple of different
The #10 blade that comes with the clippers may be adequate to
clip under all but the MOST TIGHTLY ENTWINED mats. Mats of the
worst kind take a #40 blade because it is even thinner and
is able to get between the hair and skin gently.
(Remember to repeatedly check to be sure your blades are not getting
too hot for the cat's comfort. Use Kool Lube to cool and lubricate them.)
If you wish to leave a little
more fuzz on some areas where mats are lighter or non-existent,
you will want to purchase a #4FC or #7FC blade.
However, do NOT use the #4FC or long blades in the groin or arm pit areas.
Their teeth are too wide and you will risk cutting the skin in those
regions where the flap of skin is likely to move up into the blade.
To clip a mat out of the surrounding hair, try to stretch the skin
taut around the mat. Sometimes a mat may seem huge and puffy, but only
a small amount of hair is actually holding it to the skin.
Move and manipulate it. Clip carefully so that
only the hairs that are holding the mat are removed.
- Work on the tail with your brushes and combs before you decide to shave the cat's
tail. It takes an inordinate amount of time for a long, bushy
tail to re-grow, so don't clip it unless it is absolutely necessary.
- If you want to clip the entire body, we recommend the #10 blade.
Leave the head and a fairly sizable ruff around the neck area.
(You can decide at the end of the procedure
how much neck you want to leave according to your desired look.)
- The anal area is particularly difficult. It can trap large wads of
fecal material that are very difficult to shave due to their
objectionable nature. The #10 blade will work best here.
Some cats take a great deal of care. Routine brushing and combing
are the only answer unless you don't mind a long-haired cat shaved short
two or three times a year. But proper tools and a little patience
will make the job that much easier for everyone.