Brush till it shines!

As a judge, I come across cats who are beautifully groomed only to find that the hair on their tummy is matted and tangled. Presentation and grooming is important and it means the whole cat and not just the top coat. However, regardless of whether your cat is a loving companion or a show cat they all deserve to be groomed with care and affection on a daily basis or at least 4-5 times a week. Here’s how to groom your kitty’s coat.

Bringing a kitten into your home is a lifelong commitment and grooming is a major part of owning a cat. It is very rare for a cat not to enjoy being groomed by their pet parent and over the time this develops a wonderful, loving relationship between you and your cat.

The basics of cat hair…

There are three types of cat hair: primary or guard hair within the outer coat; awn hair that is medium-sized hair forming part of the primary coat and secondary or downy hair found in the undercoat. Guard hair is coarser, thick, straight hair and taper to a fine tip. Such hair keeps the body warm and protects the skin. Awn hair is finer but thicker just below the tip of the hair and also helps to keep the cat warm and gives protection to the body. The thinnest hair of the undercoat is soft and can help regulate the body temperature and prevent heat loss.

A few exceptions in cat coats are the Devon Rex, Cornish Rex and Selkirk Rex that have curlier, wavy coats and generally are not quite as thick as the normal breeds of cat. Their whiskers can be very curly and appear to be more brittle than most cats and break easily if pet parents are not careful when handling their cats. The Sphynx breed is almost totally hairless but we often see this breed with wisps of hair at the end of their tail and in the area of their ears. The Sphynx also can have a fine down on their bodies. It is interesting to note that whatever the colour of the skin of this breed is the colour of the hair would be if they had a full coat.

Changes in coat as the kitten grows…

Kitten coats feel very soft until they are approximately six months old. They generally have a fair amount of guard hair but as they age you will notice that their hair can be longer and becomes coarse. Every breed of pedigreed cats has their own type of hair whilst the range of hair in the domestic cat varies a great deal.

Shedding is normal…

All cats shed hair. Shedding is perfectly normal in a cat’s life and is generally influenced by light so that cats who live outdoors may appear to lose more hair, especially during periods of longer daylight. Indoor cats can shed far more than those who permanently live outdoors and this can be annoying if the pet parent does not look after their cat’s coat. The way we look after our cat has a lot to do with shedding of the coat. A good diet is very important, males and females often shed differently, the climate can make a big difference as well as hormones and how much sunlight or fresh air your cat gets. Age also has a lot to do with a cat’s coat and quite often the older cats will lose their coat more frequently than younger animals. Sick cats can also lose a lot of hair and this can be helped by gentle and careful grooming to maintain the coat.

Grooming a long-haired cat…

Pet parents of long-haired cats must be especially vigilant with the care of their cat’s coat. A longhaired cat will get tangles and matting if not looked after properly – this means combing and brushing on a regular basis. Matting of hair is seen behind the ears, on the abdomen and at the back of the hind legs. However, a cat whose coat is neglected, especially a long-haired coat who has extensive matting throughout the whole coat often means a trip to the veterinarian to have the coat shaved.

It is a good idea to check the rear end of your long-haired cat to make sure that they do not have bowel or urine attached to their hair. A bad smell on your cat is unpleasant for all concerned and should not be allowed as it can cause health problems like skin infections.

Grooming a short-haired coat…

If your cat has shorthair that does not mean that their coat does not need regular attention. Even short-haired cats get tangles and they require good grooming at least 3-4 times a week – more if you have the time and the cat will enjoy the brushing and combing.

You are responsible for the well being of your cat…

  • Tangles and an unclean coat can be very painful for any animal and an unhappy cat can be difficult and cranky and not the loving, friendly companion that we desire.
  • Matted and unclean coat will lead to skin allergies and this causes infections and red and painful patches on the skin.
  • Long-haired cats are more prone to hairballs and this is another good reason to keep up regular grooming. Hairballs can cause bowel obstructions and vomiting in cats.
  • Cats can be treated for hairballs with laxatives prescribed by your veterinarian or small amounts of petroleum jelly. Again, a good diet and regular grooming can help prevent your cat developing hairballs.

So, cheers to happy grooming for happy cat!