If you've never had a longhaired cat before, you may not be familiar with all of the grooming involved While shorthaired cats can typically be left to groom themselves for the most part, longhaired cats require a little more care. Here's how to keep your longhaired kitty healthy and beautiful.
Brushing the coat.
If you do not brush your longhaired cat's coat regularly, it can form mats, which are tight tangles of hair. These mats are painful for the cat and can cause intense itching and even raw, red skin. Look for a brush made specifically for cats. One with bristles of several different lengths is ideal, since it will reach down into the deeper layers of hair and also brush the outermost layers of hair at the same time. Try to brush your longhaired cat a couple of times per week, and ensure you reach every surface, including the back, belly and under the neck.
If your cat's coat does develop mats, it's important to address them properly. If the mats are small and not too close to the skin, you can cut them out yourself with scissors. Be sure to use safety scissors so you don't accidentally cut your cat. If the mats are right up against the skin or are too large to remove in a single clip, you'll want to take your cat to a groomer or vet to have them removed. They'll need to be shaved off carefully to avoid causing damage to the skin. If there is any underlying skin irritation (there often is), your vet will likely prescribe an antibacterial cream to prevent infection.
Clipping the nails.
Many owners of both long- and shorthaired cats choose to clip their cats' nails in order to minimize furniture and carpet damage. Trimming the nails is harder with longhaired cats than with shorthaired ones since the hair tends to hide the nails. To make trimming easier, moisten the hair on your cat's paw with a damp cloth before trimming. This way, you can push it out of the way more easily. It may take your cat a while to get used to having its paws dampened, but in time, this will become routine.
Keeping the rear end clean.
It sounds a bit gross, but longhaired cats can sometimes soil their coats in the litter box. Many are good about quickly cleaning themselves up after the fact, but some are not. Thus, you'll want to regularly check your cat's rear end and wipe away and grime. Look for disposable wipes made especially for pets in pet stores. You can use a damp cloth in a pinch; just make sure you disinfect it with bleach afterwards.
With the tips above, you'll keep your longhaired cat clean and comfortable. If you notice any itching or skin problems, be sure to contact your vet or groomers like Keshlyn Kennels. These problems are more common in longhaired cats, since their skin does not breathe as well.