The Best Tips on How to Brush a Cat
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Brushing a cat regularly is an important task that many guardians often overlook. Brushing has several benefits: it helps keep the cat's coat in good condition, distributes natural oils in the skin, promotes good circulation, reduces the chance of hairballs and allows you to check your cat for wounds, ticks or anything else its hair might be hiding.
However, cats can be tricky to handle, especially when it comes to grooming. Most of them like to do that job themselves and, though they do it very well, some outside help is key to keeping its coat in tip top shape. That is why, in this Animal Wised article, we give you some of our best tips on how to brush a cat's coat properly, especially if your feline friend doesn't like being brushed. Keep reading to find out what you can do to make the grooming go smoothly.
Choosing the right cat brush
Before you can start brushing your cat, you need to make sure you have the right brush. Using a good quality brush suited to your cat's hair and coat type is the first step to a pleasant grooming experience. There are many different types of cat brushes and combs on the market, so do your homework and select the one best suited to your cat.
For short-haired cats you can use a brush with short bristles, such as a mitt brush or a dual sided brush with a short toothed “carder” on one side. We recommend you look for bristles with rounded tips, as these are less likely to hurt the cat. For more details, take a look at our article on brushes for short-haired cats.
For cats with long or dense hair, you need a comb or brush with longer teeth that can reach the cat's undercoat. This is necessary to dislodge dead hairs and keep the cat's skin healthy. Ideally, a two sided brush with a metal carder should be used, always taking care not to to break the hairs or hurt the cat. For more information, consult out article on brushes for long-haired cats.
Top tips for brushing a cat's coat
Before you start, here are some of our tips for brushing a cat's hair. If you follow these recommendations, you will find that the cat is more receptive to brushing and the experience will be better for both you and your feline.
- Follow the direction of the hair: always brush following the direction the hair naturally lies in. This will help relax your cat, as it is a lot like petting. Brushing against the direction of the hair growth will cause the cat unnecessary discomfort.
- Start early: begin brushing your cat from a young age. This can be as early as when kittens are eight weeks old. Getting them used to this from an early age will mean less trouble brushing your cat when they are older.
- Find the right time: don't force your cat into a grooming session when they are occupied doing something else like playing. Learn to pick your moments. For example, if your cat is sound asleep on her back, this might be a good time to brush the paw and tummy area.
- Groom in sections: a good tip is to carry out brushing in different sections, which can also be split into different sessions if your cat tends to get irritable when being brushed. This may take longer, but it will be easier on your cat and you'll get fewer scratches. If your cat often scratches you, don't miss our article on how to prevent your cat from clawing you.
- Brush all parts of the cat's body: although it won't always be easy and you can't always do it all in a single session, try to brush all over your cat's body. It is especially important to brush under the hind legs and behind the front legs, as these are often problematic areas where hair can get tangled.
- Brush regularly: as we explained, this is important to keeping the cats hair and coat healthy. Long-haired cats need to be brushed daily to remove dead hair they cannot reach in their own grooming. For short-haired cats, a fixed weekly brush will suffice.
How to brush a cat - step by step instructions
Now that you know the importance of brushing a cat, and have chosen the right brushes, let's get to the actual procedure, keeping the tips from the previous section in mind.
1. Choose an appropriate place and time
To begin brushing your cat's coat, sit in a place that's comfortable for both of you and put the cat on your lap. Don't drag or hold them too tightly, but close doors and windows if you don't want them to escape during the brushing. Stroke and pet the cat to get them in a calm, relaxed mood. Try to pick a time of day when you know they are more relaxed and less likely to leap off or try to paw the brush out of your hand in play.
2. Brush carefully and effectively
Start brushing along the cat's back, using gentle, long and slow strokes, from the top of their head down to the tail. Remember to follow the direction of the hair. If your cat has dense or long hair, use the carder ti get rid of dead hairs, and then a regular brush or comb to smooth the coat.
Check the brush occasionally and remove the hair that gets stuck in it before you continue. Don't neglect the armpits and abdomen, as these are areas where many knots form and some go unnoticed because they stick to the skin.
Watch out for any signs of discomfort, stress or aggression in the cat's body language. If you notice such symptoms, stop grooming and calm the cat down before you continue.
3. Detangle all knots gently
If you find some knots that are difficult to comb out, don't pull on them as this may cause hurt the cat as it pulls at their skin.Use a knot separator to break the knots into smaller pieces, or cut it carefully using small scissors with rounded tips (and only if they are not too close to the skin). You can also try to soften them with a little olive oil and then comb them out, or you can start untangling from the tip and work your way up to the root gradually.
4. Finish with a reward for good behavior
It's very important to reward a cat for good behavior. If they sit through a brushing session without making it difficult for you, pamper and reward them with a small treat at the end. This will help the cat associate brushing and combing with a positive experience, making them less likely to hate and try to avoid it the next time.
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