Unsure how to groom your cat's coat properly? Read our advice from top cat groomer Alison Rogers.
Alison Rogers is an award-winning professional pet groomer who runs her own salon in West Yorkshire. She holds demonstrations and teaches grooming as a profession, and is Head Stylist at the The Pet Spa in Harrods.
Here are Alison's top tips for grooming your cat:
Grooming your cat is not just about making him look nice, it can also help to stimulate circulation and remove knots, dead hair, dirt and loose hairs, so helping to minimize unpleasant hair balls.
It also gives you the chance to check for parasites as well as develop a strong bond with your cat. For cats with a semi-longhair or long and thick coat regular grooming is essential to prevent knots from forming.
Start by assessing your cat's coat. He may appear to be in good condition, but running your fingers through the fur may tell another tale. Matts are usually found on the shoulders, hips, underbelly, back of the legs and underarms.
Place your cat on your lap or on a table covered with a blanket or towel so he has something to grip. Cats need to be handled firmly and confidently. Give him lots of reassurance and enlist the help of a second person if necessary. If you need to restrain your cat, grip the scruff of his neck and lift him up, supporting his rear end with your other hand. 'Scruffing' invokes a natural relax reflex in the cat.
Work through the entire coat, starting with a section on the back, using a slicker brush. Follow the lie of the coat down to the tail, breaking apart small matts with your fingers. It is important to tease any knots out gently so the cat hardly feels it. For bigger matts a dematter tool can be used, holding the skin quite taught so as not to pull the skin. Using a sewing motion work through the knot, teasing it out.
It is best to use a comb for removing dead hair and debris, as brushes tend to skim over the top of the coat rather than penetrate down to the skin. This will make your cat's coat much shinier and help to prevent dandruff. Use a wide toothed comb for the undercoat and a fine toothed comb to check all the matts are out. Continue combing until the entire coat is separated.
Work around the cat, turning him over or standing him up, combing through the shorter fur, working quickly and firmly over the sensitive tummy and inner hind leg areas.
Leave the tail until last, then holding the base, comb a little bit at a time. Next brush from the root outwards on either side, using a bristle brush or softer brush, depending on the fineness of the hair.
If the matts are large he may need to be clipped by a professional. Quiet, modern clippers mean that for all but the worst of matted coats, this can be done without anaesthetic as a two or even three person job! The clippers will shave the hair close to the skin, taking out the matt with it. Carried out by a professional groomer or veterinary staff, it should be pain-free.
A groomer's shopping list
- A moultmaster tool which will gently remove loose/dead hair.
- A matt breaker with curved blades. (Be careful how you use this.)
- A curved slicker brush which has a wide plate with wire bristles and will remove loose hair.
- A moulting comb. Long prongs penetrate deep into the undercoat lifting loose hair, while the shorter teeth collect the released hair.
- A combination comb, which has wide teeth one side and narrow teeth the other.
- Pet wipes (or cotton wool dipped in warm water) to clean weepy eyes.