The Importance of Cat Grooming

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Adapted from Our Happy Cat and Darlene Cheek.

Long cat hair needs special attention every day and, although cats will groom themselves often, they will need some help from you to keep them in tiptop condition.

This can seem like a daunting task to take care of all that beautiful fur. However, your longhaired cat doesn’t have to be a chore if you do a little daily maintenance to keep them from getting tangled or matted in the first place. Also, a cat that has been on a regular grooming schedule since they were a kitten will easily accept grooming as an every day part of life, and many cats simply love all the attention.

A few minutes of brushing will not only help create a loving bond with your cat, but will also keep them beautiful, clean, and healthy. Daily grooming will also reduce shedding tremendously and help keep cat hair off your clothing, furniture, and carpet – and it will keep your beautiful kitty from getting hairballs, too!

What is matted fur?

Long cat fur is normally very thick, which is what gives it that lovely fluffy look. When your cat grooms itself, it is normally only able to reach the top layer of fur. Deeper down is where the trouble begins. The cat hair deeper down will start to get small tangles from just everyday activities. These tangles, if left, will begin to clump together and get larger and larger and harder and harder to get out. This is what is known as matted fur.

The matted fur will start to pick up debris from the ground, which will make the matted fur heavier, causing it to pull on the cats skin. This will not only be uncomfortable for the cat but will eventually cause sores to form.

Common places mats form

Check these areas of your cat regularly for signs that the cat hair is beginning to mat:

  • Behind the ears
  • In the groin area
  • Along the back of the haunches
  • Between back legs
  • Under the collar
  • Behind front legs

How to deal with matted cat hair

If you groom your cat every day, making sure that you are reaching deep down into the coat, matting should not be a problem. However, every now and again the fur may get a matt and you will need to know how to deal with it straight away.

As a rule any matted fur, which is larger than your thumb, should really be dealt with by a professional groomer. This is because your cat’s skin is thinner than our own and it may be very painful to remove larger mats without professional care and equipment. In some extreme cases the cat may have to be shaved to remove all of the matted fur.

Smaller mats can be tackled at home:

  • Start by trying to gently pull the matt with your fingers to break it apart
  • Then using a matt rake or mat breaker (available from pet supply shops), slowly saw through the matt, starting at the top and then working your way deeper into it.
    Matts generally cannot be brushed out, as by the time they become knotted they are well and truly glued together and would be very painful to pull at.
    If the mat goes very close to the skin, again see a professional groomer, who will be able to shave away the matt close to the skin. Do not attempt to do this yourself; it is very easy to cut the skin.
  • It may be a slow process to remove small matts so take your time and be very aware of your cat’s discomfort. Remember their skin is very delicate.

Fur balls, another Cat Hair problem

Another really good reason why cat grooming is important is to help to prevent fur balls. Every cat will get fur balls occasionally and will usually be able to easily get rid of them themselves. We’ve all had the lovely experience of your cat bringing up a hairball!

However long haired cats are more prone to having hairballs which can get stuck in the throat and which will require a visit to the vet. If this does happen to your cat please do not be tempted to try and get it yourself, using oil, etc – it’s too dangerous, and very unpleasant for your cat. A vet will be able to quickly and painless remove it.

By grooming your cat regularly you will be removing a lot of excess cat hair and so there is less that your cat will be licking up. This is especially true during periods of shedding, generally in the spring.

Grooming Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore

The most important thing to remember, no matter which tools you use for grooming, is to do it every day. It should only take about 5 minutes per cat to do a thorough comb-through, and honestly, if you don’t have 5 minutes to spend with your kitty, you aren’t spending enough time with your cat anyway. Grooming time can be very enjoyable, and you should use every opportunity possible to kiss and cuddle your cat. If you do daily grooming and make it a pleasurable experience for your cat, it will be an easy and bonding experience for both of you! You’ll also notice much less kitty fur on your furniture, carpet, and clothes!