July 29, 2019
Long-haired cats, such as Maine Coons and Ragamuffins, make lovely and attractive pets. However, their sleek and stunning locks do make them a little high-maintenance in comparison to their short-haired friends. If you have a long-haired cat or are thinking of adopting one, here are some tips to ensure your feline companion remains as healthy and comfortable as possible.
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Long-haired cats, especially ones with very fine hair, are at an increased risk for mats. Mats are very tight tangles of hair that tend to form in the undercoat. They’re painful, cause skin irritation, and are difficult to remove. You can prevent your cat’s coat from matting by brushing him or her often. Most cats should be brushed three times per week, but if your cat has a history of matting, you should brush daily.
A successful brushing session starts with the right equipment. For a long-haired cat, you’ll want a wire brush, an undercoat rake, and a soft-bristled brush, along with a de-shedding tool to use in the spring. Start by using the wire brush to detangle the hair and prevent mats. Then, use the undercoat rake to thin the undercoat. Finish with the soft-bristled brush, which will distribute oils through the coat and make it shiny.
Take your long-haired cat to the groomer and ask for a sanitary trim. This is a simple trim that focuses on the area around your cat’s private parts. The groomer will trim back long hairs, which prevents feces and urine from accumulating on these areas and causing odors, infections, and parasite infestations. Overweight cats, especially, may not be able to reach these areas to groom themselves, so a sanitary trim helps them out.
If your cat does not like to be brushed, try brushing him or her a little at a time, offering treats throughout the process. Most cats will come to look forward to brushing in time, as they begin associating it with treats and realize that it makes them more comfortable.
Long-haired cats’ abundant fur sometimes makes skin conditions less obvious. Make it a point to run your hands through your cat’s hair and pet him or her thoroughly every day. Here are a few conditions to watch out for:
When your cat grooms itself, it ingests hair. Some of this hair may remain in the stomach, clustering into a ball over time. When the hairball becomes too large, your cat may cough it up. Long-haired cats are at an increased risk for hairballs. Since hairballs can cause vomiting, constipation, and discomfort, you should aim to prevent them.
Brushing your cat regularly will help prevent hairballs since there will be less hair for your cat to remove with their tongue, but you can also feed a hairball formula cat food. These foods are formulated with extra fiber, so they help keep your cat’s digestive tract moving along. They may also contain ingredients that improve your cat’s coat to reduce shedding, thereby reducing the amount of hair that is ingested.