Chris Kouwenhoven


Start early with your cat. The younger it is when you begin grooming it, the more pleasant grooming will be for it. A cat that fights grooming may need sedation and shaving at the vets for matted fur; it is well worth the time to get your cat to at least tolerate grooming. Start with short sessions. Stick to areas that it seems to enjoy (often the top of the head and around the neck) first, and work your way out bit by bit. Experiment a bit (and talk with your vet) to find the brush and routine that seems to work best with your cat. Even short-hair cats benefit from grooming: they still shed a surprising amount of hair despite its length.

There are three types of general body fur on the wild cat. The "down" hairs are closest to the skin and they keep the animal warm. This underfur has a soft and curly quality to it that gives it its excellent heat-retaining property. These are the shortest, thinnest, softest, and most numerous of the hairs. The "awn" hairs form the middle coat. They lie between the soft underfur and the "guard" hairs of the topcoat. These bristly hairs share the functions of the insulating down hairs and the protective guard hairs. The guard hairs form the protective topcoat. They are the longest, thickest and straightest of the body hairs and serve to protect the underfur from cold and wet weather. For every 1,000 down hairs there are about 300 awn hairs and 20 guard hairs. These ratios vary tremendously with the different breeds of pedigreed cats. Persians, for example, have excessively lengthy guard hairs, measuring up to 5 inches, and greatly elongated down hairs, but no awn hairs. The Cornish Rex cat has no guard hairs and very short, curly awn and down hairs. The natural coats of these and some other breeds of cats have been carefully altered through selective breeding to the point where they are attractive to humans but would not survive in the wild.

Thick, long fur

Inexpensive pin-type (not the "slicker" type) dog brushes work well. You may choose to followup with a metal comb; if you use a flea comb, you will also detect any fleas your cat may have.

Silky long fur

Soft bristle brushes work well.

Short hair

Try an all-rubber brush, often sold as kitten or puppy brushes.