Unless your cat is hairless, you’re probably used to seeing your cat with a fluffy, shiny coat of hair. But your cat’s coat is more than just a bunch of soft hairs to stroke. It actually plays a big role in its day-to-day life.
Cat hair protects your cat from temperature shifts and keeps it warm and cozy. It can even help your cat have a better sense of its surroundings through sensory data. The appearance and feeling of your cat’s fur can also indicate problems with its health; dull, lackluster hair and dry skin can be signs of an underlying health condition.
Although cats typically spend a large portion of their day cleaning their own fur and tending to their coats, pet parents need to help them keep up the maintenance every once in a while so it stays clean, healthy and shiny. Here are some tips to help your cat have the best coat possible
General coat maintenance tips
Most cats can take care of day-to-day fur cleaning just fine on their own. However, there are a few routine fur maintenance tips you should follow to ensure your cat stays clean and its fur is in the best shape possible.
- Regular brushing: Brushing your cat’s fur once a week can help remove dead hair that will be shed, as well as remove dirt and dead skin and promote circulation. Using a metal brush designed for cats, brush all over your cat’s hair, following the direction the hair grows in. While you’re brushing, check for any fur tangles, skin bumps or dry skin patches.
- Don’t bathe too often: Cats do an exceptional job of keeping their fur clean without the need for regular bathing. Avoid washing your cat’s fur as much as possible, unless it got into a big mess that it can’t clean up alone. Over-washing can dry your cat’s skin out and make fur look less shiny and soft. If you do have to bathe your cat, always use cat-specific shampoos.
Tips for long-haired cats
Cats with long hair have some particular coat maintenance needs that should be taken care of. Long-haired coats are more susceptible to issues like matting and overgrowth, so these tips can help manage them.
- Brush daily: A weekly brushing may not be enough for long-haired cats, since longer hair is much more likely to tangle sooner and develop mats. Brush your cat’s fur every day or every other day using a wire brush. In addition to brushing with the direction of the hair growth, try to brush against it in areas where tangles are common to get underneath thick patches of fur.
- Check for mats: Long hair has a tendency to develop mats—thick tangles of dirt and attached and shed fur that are matted down. Mats can flatten against your cat’s skin, leading to skin problems like infections. Sometimes, you can loosen mats using a comb or mat splitter, but more severe mats might need to be cut out carefully.
- Trim long hair: Some cats have fur that grows too long over their faces and rear ends, causing difficulties in their day-to-day lives. Be sure to trim any fur that begins to hang over your cat’s eyes, as well as fur that is getting long and matted beneath its tail. If you aren’t comfortable trimming your cat’s fur on your own, seek the help of a professional groomer.
Help your cat’s coat from the inside out
In addition to daily maintenance like brushing, your cat’s coat will also require some care that starts from within.
- Nutritious food: Many cat owners find that when their cat is eating low-quality food instead of food that is packed with nutrients, its coat starts to suffer. Great nutrition leads to a great-looking coat, so if your cat’s fur is looking lackluster, consider buying higher-quality food so your cat is getting all the nutrients it needs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Major nutrients that can help improve the look of a dull coat are omega-3 fatty acids, which are oils present in many fish. Adding a fish oil supplement to your cat’s daily diet may help nourish the hair, as well as improve the health of your cat’s skin. Omega-3s are also known to reduce inflammation and soothe itching, so if your cat suffers from allergies, these supplements might help alleviate discomfort there, as well.
Another thing to be mindful of when taking care of your cat’s fur is that, as cats age, they often have a harder time cleaning themselves and may require more frequent coat care. Additionally, you should be on the lookout for signs of over-grooming and hair loss in cats, which can be
indicative of an underlying health problem.
With a little TLC on your part and a healthy, nutritious diet, your cat’s coat will never look better!