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Brushing Basics: Tools and Timing

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Cats are nothing if not very diligent in their self grooming habits. Most cats clean themselves day and night if they're not sleeping or playing. This can lead to a lot of hairballs and upset stomachs if the cat is consuming too much hair, so cat experts recommend a little human help from brushes to mitigate this. In addition to reducing shedding and hairballs, regular brushing will help stimulate your feline companion’s circulation, help to distribute natural skin oils, and provide an opportunity for you to check in on their overall skin health.

Cats generally have three different types of coats: long, short, and hairless. Hairless cats, despite the name, actually have a very fine layer of hair on their skin. However, they need baths more than any sort of brush, so for the purposes of this article we’ll be focusing on the other two types. Short coats are defined as hair no longer than 1.5 inches. Long coats are defined as anything longer than 1.5 inches.

Long hair cats require frequent brushing, generally 2-3 times per week. Not only for the cat’s comfort during warmer weather, but also to lessen the size of hairballs and the impact on your furniture and clothes. Experts say that the best kind of brush for long hair cats is thin wire slicker brushes like this one.

The thin wires help detangle fur while also reaching into the undercoat to get all the dead hairs out from there.

Short coat cats require much less brushing than long hair cats, typically no more than once a week. But if you are concerned about hairballs or just have a heavy shedder, consider getting a brush with thick bristles and bulbous points.

Bristles like these will still get to your cats undercoat while not providing the discomfort that thin wire brushes will give to cats with short coats.

Depending on your cat’s coat condition, brushing sessions can take between 5-20 minutes. While brushing is good for cats for several reasons, too much brushing, especially with more aggressive brushes like the wire slicker brushes, can be dangerous to your cat’s coat and skin.

Even with all the benefits, some cats just don’t like to be brushed. If traditional brushes don’t go over well, a glove brush or rubber brush may be more up your pet’s alley. Even still, some cats just do not like to be brushed. Be sure that when you try, you are doing so on a regular schedule and are paying attention to your kitty’s reactions. If they appear agitated, do not continue. Provide a treat as positive reinforcement and to thank them for their patience.

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