Like their short-haired counterparts, long-haired kitties need a high-quality diet, litter boxes to eliminate in and lots of love. In addition, these fluffy furbabies will require some grooming and special considerations in choosing their litter and foods to keep their luxuriant coats looking their best.
Brush your long-haired cat daily with a pin brush to prevent the fur from matting and tangling. Gently brush her body, belly, tail, chin and legs. If you groom your little furball daily for just a few minutes at a time, you won't have to brush her in longer sessions. Some long-haired breeds, such as ragdolls or Turkish angoras, can go more than a day without brushing, but daily brushing is still recommended to keep the fur soft, clean and free of tangles.
Use a wide-tooth comb to locate mats in your long-haired cat's fur. Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch or talcum powder over the mat to help loosen the knot of hair. Hold the mat at the base, and gently use the comb to detangle it. Special mat-breaker brushes, available in pet supply stores, can easily work through the mats. If necessary, cut the mat from the hair with electric clippers. Follow with a slicker brush to smooth the fur.
Give your long-haired cat a daily dose of hairball-control gel or treats. Long-haired cats tend to get more hairballs than shorter-haired cats do when they ingest their hair while grooming. Hairball preventatives help to lubricate the hair, allowing it to safely pass through your cat's system instead of winding up on your carpet when your cat vomits.
Feed your long-haired kitty a high-fiber diet to help prevent hairballs and the loose stools they sometimes cause. Commercial hairball-control diets contain more fiber than other cat foods, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. You can also supplement your cat's diet with an occasional teaspoon of canned pumpkin for a fiber boost. Consult your veterinarian about recommendations for hairball-control foods or fiber options.
Choose foods for your cat that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to keep your cat's fur soft, shiny and healthy. Foods approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials are designed to properly meet your kitty's nutritional needs and maintain her luxuriant hair, recommends the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If you feed your cat canned food, wipe her mouth and chin daily, using a damp paper towel to remove any food caught in the long fur of the face.
Wipe your long-haired kitty down daily if you or someone in your home has an allergy to cats. The long hair tends to trap dander, the main allergy trigger, more than shorter hair does. A quick daily wipe-down with a damp paper towel will help remove the dander.
Trim your kitty's hindquarters with electric clippers to prevent fecal matter and litter from sticking to her fur. If you plan to show your cat, trimming may not be an option. In that case, simply brush her twice daily, concentrating on the fur around the genitals. A gentle wipe with a damp washcloth or paper towel will also help to keep her clean and stain-free.
Fill your cat's litter box with pelleted, traditional clay or crystal litter rather than clumping litter. The fine clumping litter can stick to your cat's long fur, especially around her hindquarters and between her pads. Removing the litter clumps can be difficult and can cause your kitty discomfort. Litter with larger pieces that doesn't clump won't cause such issues for your long-haired cat.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Top Ten Paw Care Tips
- Catster: Should I Get a Short-Haired or Long-Haired Cat?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Hairballs
- California Veterinary Medical Association: Veterinarians Answer Questions From Cats
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Diarrhea
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Cat Brushing & Skin Care
- The Cat Health Guide: Long Hair Cat Care
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
- Earth Clinic: Hairball Remedies
- Flat-faced breeds like the Persian or Himalayan, must have their facial folds and eyes cleaned daily. Their eyes tend to tear, causing stains around the eyes; the skin of the facial folds can get infected if the folds are not kept clean. Use a damp cloth or cotton swab.
- Keep long-haired cats indoors to prevent the hair from getting matted and dirty. Plants found outdoors, such as foxtails, can lodge in your kitty's fur, forming mats and causing skin problems.
- Most cats enjoy being brushed, but if your cat appears upset during grooming sessions, brush her for a minute or two at a time, gradually increasing the length of the sessions over time. Provide plenty of treats to positively reinforce the experience.
- Long-haired cats don't require bathing unless they become dirty or soiled. If you do bathe your kitty, dry her fur with a hair dryer before brushing it. This prevents breakage of the damp hair.
- Use your daily brushing sessions as a chance to bond with your furry buddy and check for any skin lesions, fleas, ticks, lumps or bumps. If you notice any issues, take your cat to a veterinarian for an exam and treatment.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.