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.. Cat Grooming & Hairballs

All cats molt their fur twice a year.

Summer coats are replaced with warmer winter coats & vice versa. Loose hairs can be brushed from fur as they are shed continually, but not in such volumes as during these seasonal changes. Cat hairs are designed by nature to free themselves of their host. With conical structures running their length, as their bodies move any loose hairs ratchet themselves free from the coat.

Cats tongues are covered in tiny barbs which is why their tongues feel rough. These act like the bristles of a hair brush during self grooming. Much of this hair is then ingested during the cats famous self cleaning process, & this is why grooming becomes important.

Indigestible fur collects inside the cats stomachs until a clog is formed, at which point it will be ejected by the cats body.

Hairballs!

Hairball removal is unpleasant for us to witness or discover on our clean carpets, but it is deeply unpleasant for the cats too. Clogged hairballs can also pass to the other end of a cat, this can cause serious health problems if the mass becomes a blockage.

Hairballs are a naturally occurring unpleasantness but in a wild animal, fur & feathers from prey in their diet will help bind & carry the hairs through their systems. Also intensive breeding & our desire for longer, softer haired cats has concentrated the problem for some breeds & many hybrids.

Some cats are good at grooming themselves, others are not. Some cats develop dreadlocks if their fur is left un-attended to, which may need to be clipped from their coat by your vet. Depending on your cats hair type, they will have different requirements for grooming. Long haired cats such as persians may need to be groomed weekly or more, as the thin & long downy hairs that they are so desired for can easily matt. Some moggies have shorter more waxy coats that will never need a brush.

If your cat is consuming a lot of grass, s/he may be trying to dislodge a hairball as too much grass often makes a cat regurgitate. 

If your cat has problems with hairballs there are formulated pet foods available to help, speak to your vet for advice.

To introduce cats to grooming:

Hold the brush or comb steady for them to investigate, you can leave it laying around so they become accustomed to its presence. Later, when you want to try introducing it as a pleasurable socialising tool, gently stroke them in your normal manner & replace your hand for the comb or brush occasionally during the session, instead of the odd stroke of your hand. Ideally, they will not realise that there is something foreign stroking them, just that you have introduced a pleasurable new sensation. This may be stroking their head neck or back.

Continue with this on the same or preferably on different occasions (never pressure them or hurry the process, patience is the most important thing with cats, small steps are better than negative associations). S/he will notice the brush at some point & may be surprised but as long as you continue the soothing affection, calmly looking at them & blinking they should accept it at their own speed. If your cat seems to be becoming uncomfortable - calmly remove the brush from the social interaction for the time being & start again another at a later date from the beginning. You can begin to increase the area etc over which you are using it, once they are relaxed with the idea. 

Grooming should be a pleasurable experience for cats & their keepers alike. Cats are very sensitive on their stomachs, hind legs, rear end & paws so start with the easy areas. The neck & under the cheeks are often the best places to begin.

 

The idea is that when your cat sees you holding a brush, s/he will be pleased as it signals the time for some pleasurable stroking & socialising.

You may have to try different styles as some cats have distinct preferences & dislikes of the feeling of brushes or combs.

Some cats do not like the rubber brushes as it can pull on their fur while other cats really enjoy the feeling.

Some cats like the coat penetration of the metal combs while others find them hard & uncomfortable.

Most wire bristled brushes should have comfortable bobbles on the sharp end, to prevent scratching the skins surface (although there are even some cats who like this feeling too).

The idea is for the implement to emulate a mothers cleaning tongue, so cats enjoy kittenish reversion & enjoy letting their guard down, just like during the social stroking sessions.

 

 

This fur came from one grooming session, prevent this from clogging a cats digestive system (and/or being ejected again) by grooming

This fur came from one grooming session, prevent this from clogging a cats digestive system (and/or being ejected again) by grooming

Brushes & combs come in a wide array of designs

Brushes & combs come in a wide array of designs

Like us, cats may need a good hair brush or a comb

Like us, cats may need a good hair brush or a comb

From bristled hair to nobbled prongs theres a brush for everyone

From bristled hair to nobbled prongs theres a brush for everyone

Choose a brush/comb appropriate for your cats fur. Rubber groomers are very good at removing loose guard hair.

Choose a brush/comb appropriate for your cats fur. Rubber groomers are very good at removing loose guard hair.

Bobbled ends on metal bristles may prevent uncomfortable scratching, but some cats will enjoy that sensation too

Bobbled ends on metal bristles may prevent uncomfortable scratching, but some cats will enjoy that sensation too

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