Which direction should you brush your cat’s coat?

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Cats shed because their hair grows in a cyclical fashion. New hair bushes out old, dead hair, which winds up all over the furniture and most predictably on your clothes. Regular brushing is the best way to remove excess hair, and is especially important for inside cats.

Cats who are allowed outside react to the seasons, and shed more in the spring and summer. Indoor cats that consistently enjoy the benefits of heating and air conditioning tend to shed year round. Keeping the coat free of excess hairs will not only lessen accumulation around the house and on you, but will also minimize matting.

Mats are most typical in long-haired breeds, but can form on any cat. A mat is a tangle of dead outer hairs that have become “woven” into the shorter down close to the skin. The clumps are painful and difficult to remove, often requiring shaving at the vet’s office or by a groomer.

Always brush your cat when he is relaxed. Older cats can learn to enjoy brushing if the activity is associated with loving lap time. Although the cat may not initially enjoy the sensation, the most effective brush stroke is “backwards” or against the direction of hair growth. Alternate with strokes that follow the grain for maximum removal of dead growth.

Clean the brush often, since improper brushing actually contributes to rather than solves the problem of matting. At the end of the brushing period, wipe down the cat’s fur with a soft “chamois” type cloth, which will add a shine to the coat. In cats with very close coats like the Burmese, the chamois may be all that’s needed to remove accumulated dead fur.

Don’t be surprised if, after a thorough brushing, the cat spends the next hour bathing itself. This is not so much a matter of “rearranging” its fur as it is the cat’s desire to replace your smell with his own.

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