How to Brush Your Cat’s Coat

Proper brushing will result in fewer hairballs and less matting.

Cats shed because their hair grows in cycles. From the root, the hair grows rapidly then slowly, and finally there is a resting period. When new hair begins to grow, it pushes out the older dead hair.

When you brush your cat's coat, you help remove the dead hair – so it winds up on the brush instead of on your floor, couch or as a hairball in your cat's throat. Bear in mind that outdoor cats tend to shed in the spring and fall, while indoor cats often shed all year long.

The 5 rules of proper brushing

Different coat types require different grooming tools, but there are a few basic rules for all cats:

  1. Try to brush your cat when he is relaxed – perhaps ready to fall asleep.  Begin by gently stroking your cat. Once you notice that he seems relaxed start brushing with long, slow, gentle strokes.
  2. The best way to remove dead hair is to first brush against the direction of the hair growth, and then go with the direction of growth.
  3. Clean the excess hair from the brush often to avoid creating more knots or clumps.
  4. After brushing, wipe your cat's fur with a soft chamois.  This cloth will remove dead hair and add sheen to the coat. (If you have a close-coated cat, like a Burmese or Siamese, then this is all that you will need to do.)
  5. If you have a multiple-cat household, be sure to clean the combs and brushes after use on each animal. If one of your cats is battling any sort of skin disorder, sharing a brush that hasn’t been cleaned is a perfect way to spread the itch along.

Treating matted fur

If your grooming regimen somehow goes astray and you wind up with a matted cat, do not use scissors to cut them from your cat’s fur! Cutting out a mat of fur can cause injury. Follow these steps instead:

  • To remove a mat from the fur, use the end of a Greyhound comb and start picking at the mat gently.
  • If your cat starts struggling, stop the session and resume combing only when the cat is calm and rested.
  • As tempting as it may be, try to avoid tugging at the mat. The constant gentle picking action from the end of the comb will eventually cause the mat to loosen from the skin.

Note: if you notice multiple mats, it is probably wisest to leave them to a professional groomer.