For many people, one of the bonuses of owning a cat is their independence. They love their alone time, don’t need to be let outside to use the bathroom, and they groom themselves. No need for their silly human owners to do any of that for them, right?
While the first two are often true, the third point regarding grooming is a common misconception. Cats do spend a large part of their time grooming, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be groomed by their owners too. Here are some tips for grooming our long-haired companions.
Bathing Your Cat
We’ve all seen the stereotypical images of a cat fighting with every ounce of its strength to escape bathtime. If anything, this has probably perpetuated the myth about cats not needing their humans’ help with grooming. However, there are some tricks you can put into play to make bath time easier for all parties involved.
Long-haired cats need a bit more maintenance than their short-haired friends. Their longer coats will need to be bathed more frequently as they have a tendency to attract more dirt and dust. This is especially true if your furry friend likes to venture outside where their opportunities to get dirty are endless.
Try to save bath time for the time of day your cat is sleepiest. A mellow cat is much easier to wrangle in a bathtub than one that is just gearing up for his nightly romps around your house. Before you attempt a bath, play with them for a while. This tires them out and gives you a better chance of completing the bath scratch-free.
Before you put your cat in the bathtub, look for any mats or tangles in your cat’s fur. Long-haired cats’ fur tangles easily, so it’s important to do this before they get wet. Running a brush through your cat’s fur will help detangle it, but it will also help get rid of any loose hairs and decrease shedding as well. To really cut down on tangles and mats, brush your long-haired cats on a regular basis regardless if it’s followed by a bath or not.
Once you’ve managed to shampoo and rinse your cat, make sure you dry them off in a warm area of your home. You can towel-dry them or you can use a hairdryer if you use it on the gentlest setting. Make sure when the entire process is over, you give your pet a treat so they associate bath time with something positive.
Why Long-Haired Cats Need Extra Grooming
There are the obvious reasons why your long-haired feline friends need to spend some extra time with a brush. Brushing prevents mats and tangles and makes the overall look of your cat more polished. However, there are other benefits to helping with grooming.
When you own cat breeds like Himalayans, Maine Coons, or Siberian Forest Cats, their long coats can often be the perfect hiding spot for ticks and fleas. Plus, these expensive breeds are essentially investments and you want to make sure you’re not neglecting them.
While brushing your pet isn’t going to solve the problem, it does give you a chance to inspect your cat for those pesky insects. Their long hair also creates an opportunity for litter and debris to get caught in their fur. Brushing is often soothing to cats (if they’re accustomed to it) and this gives you an opportunity to remove any particles from their coat that isn’t supposed to be there.
Inside Versus Outside
You might not have considered an outside bath for your cat, but the outdoors can sometimes create the perfect area. Most cats don’t like to be closed in and this open area in your back yard might be a great spot that helps calm them down. It also makes the event much easier to be a family affair.
It’s important children learn about the proper care and handling of a pet from a young age, and grooming is a great place to start. Of course, things might get a little cramped inside your bathroom with several people; plus, it could make your cat even more anxious about getting bathed. If you choose to bathe your cat outdoors, you can demonstrate the process the first few times while your kids watch from the sidelines. This helps them get an idea of how things should go, and it’s an opportunity for you to teach your kids about the safety of all involved.
Even if you aren’t worried about teaching little ones the proper way to bathe a pet, the outdoors still offers a few benefits that an indoor bathroom doesn’t. This is especially true for long-haired cats for one big reason — your plumbing! During a bath, it’s normal for your cat to lose some of his or her furs, but the problem amplifies when all that excess hair clogs your drain. If you have access to an outdoor shower, their setups often allow the water to drain straight into the ground, which eliminates the worry of hair clogs in your plumbing.
Grooming your long-haired companions shouldn’t be a stressful time for either party involved. With the right preparation and follow-through, the process should go smoothly and the benefits to your cat’s health will be huge.