By my way of thinking one of the big attractions of owning a cat is that they’re low maintenance compared to other types of pets. Their exercise requirements are minimal, there’s no picking up poo (or carrying the stinky, warm, squishy stuff around with you) and they’re content living inside. Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance and one job that cat owners need to commit to is regular brushing. Most puss-cats do a valiant job of grooming themselves but we Pet Parents need to step up and give them a bit of a hand, especially with older cats, long-haired breeds and those who go outside. You can get away with grooming short-haired cats once or twice a week, but long-haireds need to be done at least once a day. For that reason alone, Mr Pet Parent and I opted for short-haired cats!
Pussa seems to rather enjoy being brushed. She’s quite calm and mostly lets the groomer (aka Mr Pet Parent) continue until the job is done. Soph on the other hand appears to consider brushing as a variant of playing with one of her Cat Teasers. Her favourite spot for being brushed is on top of the scratching post which gives her a base of about 20cmx20cm to move around on. This would be fine if she just sat still but she insists on trying to catch and grab at the brush (and the hand holding it) so she ends up performing her version of a 1990’s breakdance move….and inevitably falling off the too small surface she chose. After a number of years of trial and (t)error of brushing our two, here are our 7 most effective tips for brushing your cat:
- Timing: Don’t even think about brushing when they’re in one of their bonkers moods or just before food. They’re too hyped up and everyone is going to end up frustrated at the experience. Get them when they’re calm like in between morning cat-naps, or in the evenings after dinner
- Start early: If you get your cat as a kitten start grooming as soon as you can because then they will be used to it from a young age. Introducing it when they are adults can make it more difficult but not impossible. You just need more patience and to go a little gentler
- Get your tools sorted: As is often the case there are an enormous variety of brushing implements you can get to do the job. And as you’d expect, each cat will be different as to what kind of brush they like (or will tolerate) and what they won’t. Neither of ours would have a bar of steel tooth combs or brushes with hard bristles. Frankly, I’m with them on that. At Cat Habitat HQ we use a combination of a Zoom-Groom and Furminator. The former is made of rubber and I think the teeth must feel a lot gentler on their skin compared to the sharpness of some others. This gets rid of loose fur and large matter from the top coat. The Furminator is a great bit of kit which removes loose fur from the undercoat. It still surprises me to see the difference in the types of fur that comes off using these two brushes. Make sure if you’ve got a long-haired cat that you use a brush with longer teeth otherwise you won’t be brushing through the whole hair shaft
- Head to tail: Start at the head and work in long strokes towards the tail. Remember to brush the belly as well as under their chin, their chest and tail. Short-haired cats are relatively straight forward to do, but with long-haireds pay particular attention to under their armpits and between their hind legs. The fur here is thin and knots easily so try and tease any matts out with your fingers rather than cutting them out. Matts also have a tendency to form between the toes and around the pads so keep a check on these too
- Direction: I’ve come across some people who advocate brushing both in the direction of the hair growth, and against it. With long-haired cats you are unlikely to be able to avoid this but I can’t see the need for it with a short-haired cat since they are less likely to suffer from matting. Just like the way it hurts when you brush your own hair in the opposite direction, I imagine your cat feels similarly
- Removing matts: Slowly and gently are the operative words here. Don’t keep tugging at them, it’ll only hurt poor old puss and she’ll remember for next time and make things more difficult. If it’s beyond your capabilities to remove the matt, get in the professionals! Professional groomers will have it out in a jiffy and get you back on track
- Don’t push the boundaries: If you’re just starting with grooming your kitten or have a cat that dislikes the process, restrict the brushing to a few minutes at a time. Don’t push on regardless of how much distress it’s causing them because they will remember the next time and make life hard for you. You could also try giving them a little treat when you’re done so they associate the event with something positive at its conclusion.
Brushing your cat isn’t a job you can leave just to them especially if your cat is outside and collects grass, dirt and various forms of flotsam and jetsam in their coat. It’s also a good way of monitoring their general health and gives you a chance to check for irritants on their skin and in their fur. Best of all, cats who are brushed regularly swallow less fur and have owners who spend less time cleaning up hairballs. Soph, I’m looking at you!
For those of you who want a refresher on their breakdancing moves, check this out.