Some cats can be incredibly finicky about having their coats brushed. Unfortunately, as winter ends, shedding makes brushing a necessity. If your pet is a long-haired breed, the experience may be even more unpleasant. Knotted fur presents a special challenge with grooming, but when you commit to these simple steps, your unhappy kitty may just start to enjoy it.
Make the Spot Inviting
If you can, pick a location in the home to designate as the brushing spot. Most cats gravitate to sunshine, so try a place near a window. If you time it properly, there should be enough sun to provide a considerable amount of warmth, which kitties absolutely love.
Add some other touches to make your cat feel more at home here. A plush pillow and a favorite toy can create a sense of familiarity and safety. Though you may be tempted to choose somewhere the kitty can’t run away, he’ll feel more at ease if he has visible escape routes.
Get Into a Routine
Cats live for routine. When there’s a lot of household changes, it’s common for them to feel stressed out and scared. One way you can help them feel better about being brushed is to work it into your regular schedule. It may take some getting used to, but eventually your pet will come to expect it.
Long-haired cats should ideally be groomed at least once a day. A good time may be the evening after you’ve come home from work. Choose a specific time each night for brushing and be sure you stick to the habit. Consistency can make it easier for your cat to adapt.
Show Some Love
Start each grooming session with some affectionate interaction. Scratch behind the ears, beneath the chin or another favorite spot. This can have a calming effect on your kitty, and the attention creates positive associations to minimize the dread of the grooming brush.
Once your cat feels relaxed, you can shift your love to the rest of his coat. Pet him like you normally would and use this time to locate the biggest problem areas. Breeds with longer hair tend to get the worst of it on their bellies, particularly because this is one spot many owners miss during brushing.
Gather the Best Brushes
Invest in more than one type of grooming brush. A soft bristled version can actually remove a lot of loose fur, while mimicking the gentle touch of your fingertips. A cat who is averse to brushing may feel as though he’s just being stroked by his owner.
For more intense grooming, choose a slicker tool or massaging brush . The teeth should be thin enough to break through any knots in the fur. A rubber composition adds some flexibility, which can cut down on resistance when the brush runs into tangles. This makes for a less painful experience for your kitty.
Start with the soft-bristled brush and use it to clear out dead skin, dirt and loose fur. If you run into knots, don’t force your tool through at this point. As you move around the tangle, take note of any obvious discomfort from your kitty. Matted fur can sometimes lead to broken skin, so you’ll want to use extra care if this is the case.
When it comes time to remove the worst of the tangles, switch to the more robust brush. You can cut down on the amount of tugging by holding the fur just above the knot with one hand, while you comb through the tangle with the other.
Use Your Fingers
For big sections of matted fur, begin by pulling them apart with your fingers. Rather than tugging outward, use a side-to-side motion that runs parallel to the cat’s body. The knot should break apart easily, allowing you to work the brush the through and smooth out the fur.
Use minimal pressure; don’t tug or yank unnecessarily. Some cats may even enjoy this tactic, but only if you have a gentle touch. As you pull the tangles loose, you might end up taking out a lot of loose fur as well. Keep a wet cloth nearby to help contain it.
Brush Before and After a Shampoo
Because cats have a natural aversion to water, bathing isn’t a typical practice for feline owners. However, some long-haired kitties can benefit from a few thorough shampoos a year. Cats that produce a lot of dander or dandruff may experience less itching with a clean coat.
If you decide to take on this task, make sure you’re using shampoo specifically designed for pets . Brush out your cat’s fur as much as you can before getting it wet. Once the bath is over, it’s important to brush out the hair again, to prevent new tangles from forming. A rubber brush works well with wet fur.
Be Aware of Your Cat’s Discomfort
Although some cats may hate being brushed, don’t ignore obvious signs that your pet is unhappy with you. Growling and hissing may be inevitable, but eventually the cat may reach his limit and strike out against you. If the kitty is being vocal about his discomfort, take a moment and evaluate your methods. You may be tugging too much or pulling at an open wound.
If regular brushing is new to the routine, start with smaller intervals. It may seem counterintuitive since this is likely when your pet needs the most grooming, but sensitive cats have a much better chance of adapting if you ease them in.
Reward Your Kitty
When it’s all said and done, make sure you reward your cat for his endurance. Engage in some active play time or give him his favorite treats . This positive reinforcement makes the grooming not seem so bad.
In the end, brushing isn’t just about removing tangles; cleaning up surface debris can improve the look and feel of the cat’s coat, and it may reduce itching and biting. Your cat may pull at sections of matted fur in an attempt to remove them, which may lead to welts and broken skin. Keep your long-haired kitty happy and healthy by incorporating regular brushing into your routine.