How To Care For A Long-Haired Cat

A long-haired cat lies on a table while a person picks up a brush from an assortment of grooming devices.

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Long-haired cats with their luxuriously soft fur and beautiful appearance can be a joy to own. But they also require a little more attention in the grooming department. You’ll need to be prepared to brush them frequently and keep mats from forming. Even though long-haired cats groom themselves like any other cat breed, they still require some extra help from their owners. Here are a few tips to keep you and your long-haired kitty as happy as possible.

Special Needs For Special Breeds

How much grooming your long-haired cat needs really depends on the type of long fur she has. A cat with soft, thin, silky fur may rarely have tangle problems. But cats with thicker fur may run into problems frequently.

Persian cats, for example, have luxuriously thick, long fur and they need to be brushed every day and bathed once a month. Their fur tangles easily. Turkish Angora cats, by contrast, have no undercoat, so their fur rarely tangles, and they barely shed. They only need to brushed weekly. Selkirk Rex cats are a special case because their long fur is curly like a poodle’s fur. You should comb their fur a couple times a week to prevent tangles and cut down on shedding. When you’re done, run your fingers gently through the fur to fluff the curls.

Brushing And Combing

Purchase special brushes and combs designed especially for cats for the best results. You can get these at any pet store. Most cats absolutely love being brushed, so you may find that your cat starts head butting your brush or comb the moment you get it out. Cats who are more sensitive will often grow to love brushing after a few tries. Even if your long-haired cat doesn’t grow to love brushing, it’s still important to brush her regularly because long-haired cats are more prone to hairballs if you’re not regularly getting rid of extra fur.

If you’re introducing a cat to brushing for the first time, here are a few tips from Woodgreen Animal Charity to help. Let her smell the brush first so she can be familiar with it. Always brush in the direction of the fur, so the sensation isn’t unpleasant. Start at her head, slowly, to help her get adjusted to the feeling. Keep the first session to just a few minutes, rewarding her with a treat at the end, and gradually increase the length to 15 minutes over time.

Bathing A Long-Haired Cat

Cats with long fur may need to be bathed, especially if they end up with an unfortunate problem of getting some litter or feces stuck in their fur. Some cats will bite or claw you if you try to put them in a bath, but other cats – such as most Maine Coons — will absolutely love it, especially if you make the bath water warm enough. If you can introduce your cat to bathing when she’s a kitten, you’ll have the best results. But if not, check out these tips from CatTime on how to introduce your cat to being bathed.

Dealing With Mats

Long-haired cats are especially prone to matted fur. If your cat’s fur gets matted, you might need to clip away the mats. Do so gently, being careful not to pull too hard on the fur. Remember to use special cat clippers that you buy from your local pet store. Don’t ever use scissors, since your cat may react unexpectedly and possibly cut herself! If you want, you can use a comb to try to brush out the mat very gently first. If the mats are really bad, you may need to take your cat to a vet for professional grooming.

Tufts Of Fur Between The Paw Pads

Cats with long fur may also grow long tufts of fur between the pads on the bottom of their paws. Turkish Vans, for example, are prone to developing these long tufts. These tufts can get tangled, caught onto things, or can even make using the litter box uncomfortable for them. If the tufts get too long, you can trim them with clippers. Be careful to make sure you don’t accidentally cut your cat’s feet and trim only to the level of the pads.

Although grooming and brushing your cat may seem daunting, it’s very important for long-haired kitties. Your cat may grow to love being brushed and the time you take to comb her could turn into a fun bonding time between the two of you.

Let us know how your long-haired kitty likes to be groomed in the comments below!