How To Properly Care For Your Cat’s Coat

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The cat's coat is often one of the most striking features of its appearance. The basis for a good-looking coat is quality nutrition and a loving low-stress environment.

Basically, cats grow two different kinds of hairs in their coat:

  • Guard hair - the longer type of hair, which constitutes the topcoat.
  • Secondary hair - the dense layer of hairs that make up the undercoat. Secondary hair can be woolly or awn type, and often is a combination of both.

The variety of coat texture, found in cat breeds, comes from different combinations of hair types or from mutations in a specific hair type. With today's multitude of breeds, new and different types of coats are becoming less rare. Some need a different method of grooming than others. It is important to understand the build of the coat, and to groom it properly.

How to Care For The Coat Of Domestic Shorthair Cats

Most domestic shorthairs need relatively little grooming. Regular brushing, at least once a week helps to keep the coat looking good, by removing dead hair. Getting rid of dead hair also prevents it from scattering around your home. It is advised to often brush cats that shed a lot. Usually it is not necessary to bathe a shorthair cat, unless it gets its coat very dirty. You should also bathe the cat if it is covered with a substance that you don't want him to lick off.

How to Care For The Coat Of Domestic Longhair Cats

Many domestic Longhairs need to be brushed daily, or at least three times a week, depending on fur length and density. This is necessary to prevent tangles and matting of the fur. Bathing regularly is also recommended, because the cat may have difficulties keeping its long coat clean.

You should also comb your cat for ticks, fleas and flea eggs if you live in an area where infestations of these pests are particularly hard to control. This is especially necessary for cats living in rural areas, where they are allowed to be outside a great deal.

If you own a purebred cat, it is best to consult with the breeder about the special care its coat needs. Books devoted to the care of specific breeds are also available. Note that preparing a cat for showing involves a complex grooming procedure, starting weeks before the show. This procedure is not covered in this article and it is best to ask an experienced breeder for advice and even a demonstration.

How to Care For The Coat Of Specific Cat Breeds

Here are a few common cat breeds with different coat types and recommended guidelines for grooming them:

Persian/Himalayan Cats

Bathe every few weeks and brush daily.

British shorthair Cats

Brush once a week to remove dead hair. Bathe as necessary.

Ragdoll Cats

Brush regularly at least once a week. Bathe as necessary.

Siamese/Oriental Cats

Brush once a week. Bathe as necessary.

Sphynx Cats

Sponge-bathe regularly to remove excess body oils.

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

4 comments on “How To Properly Care For Your Cat’s Coat

Furballsmom January 8, 2020
There is an updated link for this;
    Furballsmom November 26, 2020
    Please ignore the above post and link to brushes and combs, I apologize, it is out of date.
Anne February 12, 2014
@PaulnSteve I would check the Brushes & Combs category in our reviews section. You can also post this question in the Care & Grooming forum
paulnsteve February 11, 2014
I have one question- Does it matter what kind of brush I use? I have a cat brush I bought at Petco, but I also have an old hairbrush of my own that my cats just LOVE, both seem to do the trick. I know how important brushing your cat is, because it can also relieve them of some hairball issues

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