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Caring For Your Cat’s Fur

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Learning how to care for cat fur is an essential responsibility for any cat parent—even if you have a hairless cat. Different coats require different needs, and these can vary from one breed to another—even from one cat to the next.

Do Cats Have Hair or Fur?

Many people use the terms 'hair' and 'fur' interchangeably, along with the term 'coat.' However, others use these words to distinguish between different textured coats. For instance, fur can describe a thick or long coat, while hair is sometimes used for a shorter, thinner coat.

Why Do Cats Get Matted Fur?

Technically any cat with hair can be susceptible to getting matted fur, but cats with longer hair are at a much higher risk. Cats' hair can become matted in spots that are often rubbed up against other things, such as between their legs or behind their ears, where they are often pet.

If your cat becomes overweight, they can also have problems with being able to groom themselves adequately. In the instance that your cat is sick or generally not feeling well, you might also notice them not grooming themselves as much. You can take your feline friend to their veterinarian's if you suspect an underlying health-related issue.

Thankfully, you can help your pal take care of their fur. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way is to brush your cat frequently. This will help keep mats at bay and their coat healthy, plus it will reduce the amount of cat hair being left around your home and on your clothes.

If your cat seems prone to matting, you may have asked yourself, "Should I shave my cat's fur?" The answer to this question is almost always a "no." Cats have thin, sensitive skin that can easily be cut or irritated by the shaving process, even if you are extremely careful. Plus, many cats can get squirmy even when they are just getting their nails trimmed, so you can imagine how shaving a cat isn't the easiest task. Some cats can become rather stressed or anxious if shaved, so it is best to avoid this whenever possible.

There are few exceptions whenever shaving your cat is okay, one of which being out of necessity for a medical reason. If this is the case, then a professional at your veterinarians, who will have experience with how to shave a cat without hurting them, can take care of this task for you.

If you adopt a stray cat, there's a chance that their coat will not be in great shape. If they have extreme matting that you can't detangle with just a comb, then it's recommended that you take them to a cat groomer. The professional can work on the mat and safely shave your cat, if necessary.

Does Cat Fur Keep Them Cool?

Yet another reason why you should never shave a cat is that their fur acts as an insulator and a temperature regulator. Their coat can keep them cool and protect them from the sun in the summer. In the winter, their fur keeps them warm.

Did you know that caring for your cat's fur can help minimize the chances of them getting hairballs?

Can Cats Carry Lice?

Whether you have ever had lice before or not, you are most likely familiar with the signs of these itchy parasites. The symptoms of a cat having lice are similar—they will excessively scratch themselves.

The good news is that lice are not incredibly common on cats. If your pal were to pick them up, it would most likely be from spending time outside (which is not recommended), visiting their groomer, or spending time at a boarding facility.

A few precautions you can take include:

  • Keeping your cat indoors
  • Giving them lice preventives
  • Checking the cleanliness of facilities (grooming and boarding) before dropping off your cat

If you suspect your cat does have lice, it's crucial that you take them to the veterinarians as soon as possible. Depending on your cat's condition, they may be prescribed some lice shampoo or spray-on preventives.

Until your cat has the all-clear, you will need to keep them separated from any other cats you may have in your home, but there's no need to worry about you or your children catching the lice.

ginger maine coon cat licking her lips

Long-Haired Cats

These lusciously coated felines have hair that's two inches or longer. Although beautiful and undeniably soft, this long hair is more prone to knots and matting, so it's vital that long-haired cats are groomed well.

Many cats with this coat will need to be brushed daily, even if it's just a quick 15-minute session. Not only does frequent brushing help keep their fur healthy, but it can also help reduce the amount of cat hair being shed on your furniture, clothes, and nearly everything else in your home. If you or someone in your house has a cat allergy, steer clear of long-haired cats.

Slicker brushes, which have short, fine wires, are an ideal brush for longer hair. They are great at catching loose hair from your cat's coat, plus they can help with any knots in the coat. Because these brushes have metal wires, it's important not to brush too roughly, as that could irritate your cat's skin.

It's recommended to begin these healthy grooming habits the week you bring your new best pal home, no matter their age. By creating a routine, your cat can become more comfortable with being brushed and may even come to enjoy it. Always make brushing sessions a fun and stress-free experience and reward your cat with some ear scratches and a few treats.

Of course, cats are pros at giving themselves baths. However, not all cats can take care of their coats all by themselves—some may require extra assistance. You can bathe your cat at home or take them to a professional pet groomer. If you find matting in your pal's coat, it's recommended that you do not cut it out yourself since it can be easy to hurt your cat accidentally. Instead, please leave it to the professionals.

It can also be helpful to talk with a cat groomer or veterinarian about what type of brush or comb will work best for your cat's coat. Although these silky-coated felines may require more care to keep their coat looking its best, some genuinely wonderful long-haired cat breeds make for perfect companions. Some of these breeds include Ragdolls, Persians, Maine Coons, Birmans, and Siberians.

two black cats at home

Short-Haired Cats

Having to take care of the beautiful coats of long-haired cats isn't for everyone—luckily, there are plenty of short-haired cats breeds as well. Some include the Korat, Abyssinian, British Shorthair, Bengal, and Tonkinese.

Although the smooth coats of short-haired cats will not require nearly the amount of attention as a thicker, longer coat, that's not to say that cat parents can get away with never brushing their cat's fur. Every cat's coat is different, but typically a few quick brushing sessions each week are enough to keep their coat healthy. Plus, regular brushing can help reduce how much hair your cat is shedding all around the house.

You may also use a slicker brush on short-haired cats, but many cat parents find that silicone brushes or brushing gloves also work wonders. Remember, just because your cat has shorter hair doesn't necessarily mean they will shed any less than a long-haired feline. In fact, some cats with shorter hair may shed even more.

tortie Selkirk rex cat sleeping on a black leather foot stool

Curly-Haired Cats

Falling into a unique category of coat types are curly-coated cats. Many of these breeds appear to shed less than short or long-haired cats since the hair that falls out becomes caught in the curls instead of being dropped.

Some curly-coated breeds have very fine hair with looser curls. These breeds, such as Cornish Rex, are more likely to experience partial or complete baldness. Although many people may initially think this makes for an even more low-maintenance coat, it's quite the contrary. With thinner fur, your cat's coat will not be able to absorb oils as much, so you may need to bathe your cat more often. Not to mention, without a thick coat, you may need to apply some sunscreen to your feline friend—this helps protect them from sunburns.

Other curly-coated breeds, like the Selkirk Rex, have a very thick coat with tight curls. Cats with this coat should be brushed a few times a week with a comb made specifically for curly coats. Pay special attention to the hair on their stomach, legs, and neck, as the curls can be even denser in these areas.

If you come across any tangles, work them out so that your pal's coat can remain soft and healthy. While brushing, also keep an eye on their skin. Reddened skin could be a sign of an allergy, dry skin could mean that your cat needs a conditioner, and curly coats can easily hide some unwanted bugs.

Depending on your cat's coat texture, it may be necessary to take them to a professional cat groomer every few months and get a little trim. If you ever come across a tough knot or mat in your cat's fur while brushing them, a groomer can also help take care of that issue—it's recommended that you do not cut it out yourself.

sphynx cat with big ears

How to Care for a Hairless Cat

Hairless cats are unique for many reasons. Accompanying their otherworldly looks are a few special care-taking needs. Although these felines do not have the traditional thick coat like most cats, some hairless cats can still have light peach fuzz, and their skin still needs a care routine.

Hairless cats are loving companions that make for excellent pets. Since they are still not overly common, however, many cat parents have questions about these breeds, such as,

  • Are hairless cats hypoallergenic?
    Technically, hairless cats are not hypoallergenic. Contrary to popular belief, people with cat allergies can still have an allergic reaction to these felines.
  • Do hairless cats have dander?
    Hairless cats do have dander, which causes allergic reactions in people.
  • Do hairless cats sweat?
    All cats sweat, but it's often more noticeable on hairless cats. Normally, a cat's coat can help absorb and redistribute natural oils, saliva, and sweat on a cat's skin, but since some breeds don't have hair, there's nothing to absorb the sweat.
  • Do hairless cats get cold?
    Without a protective layer of fur, hairless cats can get chilly in the cooler months. A great way to help your cat stay warm and cozy is to get them a nice cat bed and leave some blankets around your home. You can also purchase some sweaters or clothes for your pal, though it may take them some time to be comfortable wearing them. Don't be surprised if your pal begins hanging out under the covers of your bed or stays curled up on your lap more often. You may also find them sunbathing more, but don't forget to limit their sun exposure.
  • Can hairless cats get sunburned?
    Hairless cats can easily get sunburned—as can hairless dogs, for that matter. Though our feline friends won't be spending time outside, unlike dogs, many cats still enjoy sunbathing from inside. Be sure to keep an eye on how long your pal is in the sunlight. To give them a little break, tilt or close your blinds or curtains, at least for a few hours to provide some shade. If you can't seem to keep them out of the sunlight, you may want to purchase some cat-friendly sunscreen.
  • Do hairless cats stink?
    This can be a somewhat subjective question. Some cat parents note that their hairless cat can often smell like their shampoo or the detergent used to wash their cat clothes. Other parents of hairless breeds note if they don't wash their cat enough, they can get smelly. Not to mention, many hairless breeds have sensitive tummies and require a special diet. If they continue to eat food that they can't digest, this could also lead to some unflattering flatulence from your feline friend—thus another reason your cat could stink.
  • Do hairless cats get fleas?
    Hairless cats can be just as likely to have fleas as cats with a full coat. Perhaps the only difference between the two is that fleas on a hairless cat are far easier to spot.

If you are looking for a cat with minimal grooming needs, a hairless cat is not necessarily the breed for you. Although they have very minimal to no hair, you will still need a good skin-care routine to keep your cat healthy.

Hairless cat breeds, such as the Sphynx, Bambino, and Peterbald, require a weekly bath. It is typically recommended to use a hypoallergenic, perfume-free, and dye-free shampoo. Hairless cats have sensitive skin, so it's crucial to keep this tidbit in mind when purchasing products for your feline friend.

All shampoo must be thoroughly rinsed off, as any residual product could cause irritation. Immediately after their bath, quickly dry them off with a towel before they get chilly.

If you do not routinely bathe your cat, they can have acne or blackhead breakouts, just like a person would. Even with weekly baths, this can still occur, in which case you may want to purchase cat wipes. A quick wipe down in between baths may be enough to help keep their skin cleaner.

By learning more about your cat's unique coat type, you can be better prepared to help take care of their fur. Establishing a healthy grooming routine early on can help ensure that your best pal will have a healthy coat for years to come.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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