Long haired cats have beautiful silky coats that beg to be petted. But without the right grooming routine, a long haired breed can easily turn into a matted mess.
Cats may be diligent self-groomers, but long coats need extra attention to stay healthy and beautiful.
Brushing regularly – and the right way – is a crucial part of the grooming process.
We’re going to tell you how to brush a cat with long hair, and help you determine whether you have a long haired breed.
Does Your Cat Have Long Hair?
Before you start your new grooming routine, it’s important to make sure that your cat is actually a long haired cat.
Some short haired cats with thick coats look like they have long hair. Some long haired cats can be mistaken for short haired breeds because their coat is only slightly longer.
Breeds classified as long hair include:
- Turkish Van
- Norwegian Forest
- Asian Semi-longhair
- Egyptian Mau
- British Longhair
- Oriental Longhair
- York Chocolate
If you’re not sure of your cat’s breed, consult with your vet. He or she will tell you whether you have a short or long haired cat.
How to Brush a Long Haired Cat
Cats with long coats should, ideally, be brushed once a day to prevent matting. Depending on the breed, you may be able to get away with brushing every other day or every three days. But if your cat is prone to matting, you’ll want to aim for daily brushing.
Some cats love to be brushed, so you might be able to comb the entire coat in one sitting. But given the fiercely independent nature of felines, you’ll probably have to do your brushing in spurts throughout the day.
1. Gather Your Tools
To keep your cat’s coat looking its best, you need the right tools for the job. Cats can be a little more fickle in terms of which brushes they like. They can get agitated if you use a brush that’s a little too sharp or uncomfortable.
For long haired breeds, you have a few tools to choose from:
- De-shedding tool. These brushes have fine teeth that pull out loose fur from the undercoat. They work great for breeds with long hair, but you’ll want to choose a model that’s designed for cats. A de-shedding tool for dogs may be too big or sharp for a smaller cat’s body.
- Slicker brush – the quintessential long haired pet brush. Slicker brushes have long pin-like bristles that are slightly bent to catch loose hairs as you brush. These brushes can pick up a lot of hair, and most models are self-cleaning.
- Shedding rake. These brushes are similar to de-shedding tools, but the teeth are longer and thicker.
- Pin brush or wide-toothed comb. A regular pin brush or a comb can help finish up your brushing routine by softening the coat and removing any last tangles.
2. Make Sure Your Cat is Comfortable
Some cats adore being brushed, while others could care less. If your cat falls into the latter category, it may be difficult to establish a good brushing routine.
Adapt to your cat’s routine instead of forcing him to adapt to yours. Wait until he’s just woken up from a nap to start brushing, or get in a few sections of his coat at a time throughout the day.
Make sure the cat is as calm and content as possible before you begin.
3. Detangle with a Wide-Toothed Comb
Before you pull out a de-shedding comb, slicker brush or rake, you’ll want to start with a wide-toothed comb to work out tangles in the coat.
Work through these tangles gently, so you don’t aggravate or hurt your cat. Make sure you go over the entire coat with the comb.
- Brush with the direction of growth
- We recommend starting at the top of your cat’s head and working your way down its back to the tail.
- From here, you can move on to gently combing the belly and chest.
- Brush between the legs, too.
If your cat isn’t too keen on having his belly brushed (many cats don’t like to be touched here), try making a “V” shape with your thumb and fingers, and pressing down on the underside of your cat near the shoulder and head. This will help you pin the cat down and keep him from biting you.
If your cat doesn’t like this way of brushing, you can try brushing against the grain (brushing towards the head instead of away from it).
4. Use an Undercoat Brush
After going over the coat once with a wide-toothed comb, you can move on to an undercoat rake.
Follow the same routine as with the comb, and choose a brushing method that your cat likes.
What about Knots and Tangles?
If you have particularly stubborn knots or mats, there are a few things you can do to get rid of these tangles.
- Use talcum powder. Talcum powder may make it easier to comb out knots. Sprinkle a little powder on the knot, use your fingers to loosen it, and then use the brush to remove it completely.
- Comb out mats. Hold the mat near the root, and use a brush or comb to tease it out. Be gentle, and work the mat out gradually.
If the mat is really bad, you may need to cut it out completely. Cut as far away from the cat’s skin as possible.
Severe matting will require the help of a professional groomer.
Grooming Tips for Long Haired Cats
Start grooming your cat as early as possible. Cats who are groomed at an early age are far more likely to accept and even enjoy their brushing sessions.
Don’t worry if your cat is already an adult and you’re just getting started with a grooming routine. Be gentle and take your time. Eventually, your cat will warm up to the idea of being brushed, and may even like it.
Don’t Rush into It
Don’t rush your brushings or be too aggressive. Take your time, be gentle and brush on your cat’s terms. If she’s agitated, wait until later to try brushing. The goal is to make the experience as positive as possible.