Part 3: Overview‎ > ‎


There is a lot to learn!

From novice to informed

  • Most first-time owners of longhair cats obtain the cat whilst it is still a kitten.
  • A kitten is relatively easy to groom a kitten compared to an adult, because of its size. 
  • In most cases, the hair of a kitten is also relatively short compared to that of an adult. 
  • As the kitten grows to maturity, the task of grooming requires more and more knowledge.


  •  This chapter aims to provide a longhair cat owner with enough knowledge to groom a longhair cat, and especially the silvers, to become a showcase of optimal beauty.

 Grooming cycle

The image below explains the grooming cycle for a longhair cat.
  1. Start
    There are 3 triggers that starts a grooming cycle. Each cycle has a different objective, needs a different setup and uses different techniques.
    The triggers are:
    • Routine maintenance bath
    • Show bath
    • Bath due to dirt stains.
  2. Set-up
    • Grooming equipment
    • Shampoos
    • Bathing equipment
    • Drying equipment
  3. Prepare cat
    1. Nails
    2. Gum inspection and teeth cleaning
    3. Ears
    4. Eyes
    5. Coat
  4. Bath
    • Degreasing
    • Anal glands
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
  5. Dry
    • Grooming Spray
    • Body Position
    • Type of dryer
  6. Comb
    • Finishing off
    • Routine.

How often to bath?

  • Cats that are regularly bathed from an early age grow up being accustomed to bathing.
  • A good age to start bathing a kitten on a regular basis is from 3 weeks.
  • For females and sterilized cats: a routine where each cat is bathed at least every 3 weeks is recommended.
  • For studs: a routine where each cat is bathed at least every 2 weeks is recommended. If the stud tail tends to get oily, a weekly bath is required.
  • Show cats are usually bathed more than ordinary pets.
  • Owners of top show winners say that they bath their cats on a weekly basis.
  •  When you notice hair shed down at the end of winter, brush out the old coat completely and THEN bath the cat to avoid matting to settle in.

Why, and how often to clip nails?

  • Claws in animals are used for digging, climbing and to add traction when running (like spikes on an athlete's shoes). Cat claws have added value helping the cat to catch and hold on to prey. Claws also are weapons in self defense. They are sickle shaped and very sharp at the tip. 
  • The claws renew themselves to help keep them effective and can be withdrawn into a pouch to protect them when not required (i.e. give them a longer life). 
  • The renewal happens trough a process whereby a new claw grows under the old one and the old claw sheet eventually falls off.  [45] [46]
  • Indoor cats are not in nature where their nails are kept in harmony with nature. 
  • We try to mimic nature for indoor cats through scratching posts. However, regular checking is required for indoor cats to ensure that the cat does not end up with nails so long that they grow in a circular shape causing the tips to grow into the paw pad.
  • An indoor cat's nails must be clipped approximately every three weeks.
  • Pay special attention to older cats. Their nails may become thick so that the claw cannot draw back properly into the paw pouch. This may result in growing into the cat’s paw pad. This can be extremely painful and may even require medical treatment and minor surgery. It can also lead to infection. 
  • Always clip nails before a bath to avoid being accidentally scratched.
  • Most cat show rules require that nails must be clipped to protect judges and stewards from being scratched. 


 Functions of hair

  • Hair on a scalp insulates the head against cold, protects it from the sun and acts as a cushion against bumps. 
  • Eyelashes protect foreign particles flying into the eyes. 
  • Nostril hair traps dust flecks that are inhaled from the air. 
  • Hair in ears helps protect the very sensitive ear canal. 
  • Body hair helps to keep the body warm. 
  • Hair has a valuable sensory function.  It is linked to the secretion of sebum onto the surface of the skin in an attempt to keep skin moist and flexible.

Acidity of cat hair

  • The pH of a human skin and hair is acidic: varies between 4.5 to 5 [15].
  • The pH of a cat (or dog) skin and hair is alkaline: varies between 7.2 and 7.8. 
  • Therefore, human shampoos are not ideal for cats. 

Hairs per follicle

  • People have one hair per follicle.
  • Dogs and cats have between 7 and 15.

Hair types

From left, down- or wool hairs from undercoat of domestic cat, then awn hairs,
with woolly base to guard-hair-like top, with a guard hair on the right [i-8]
  • There are three types of hair on cats:
    *     down (wool),
    *     guard hair and
    *     awn (bristle) [34].
  • Down hair (known also as undercoat or ground hair) is the the bottom layer consisting of wool hairs, usually wavy or curly without straight portions or sharp points. 
    *     They tend to be shorter, flat, curly, and more numerous than the top layer.
    *     The undercoat's  key function is to keep the body warm.;
    *     It maintains a layer of dry air next to the skin.
    *     It also and repels water.
    *     It
    sheds easily.
  • Guard hair is the top layer consisting of longer, generally coarser, nearly straight shafts of hair that protrude through the down hair layer.
    *     The ends furthest from the body (
    distal ends) of guard hair provide the externally visible layer of the coat.
    *      This layer of the coat displays the most marked
     pigmentation and gloss, including coat patterns adapted to display or camouflage.
    *      It is also adapted to shedding water and blocking sunlight, protecting the undercoat and skin from external factors such as rain and
     ultraviolet radiation.
    *      Many animals, such as domestic cats, erect their guard hairs as part of their
     threat display when agitated.
  • Awn hair is thinner, and tapers to the tip. 
    *     They begin their growth much as guard hairs do, but change their mode of growth, usually when less than half the length of the hair has emerged. This portion of the hair is called awn.
    *     The rest of the growth is thin and wavy, much like down hair.
    *     In many species of mammals, the awn hairs comprise the bulk of the visible coat.
    *     The
    proximal part of the awn hair shares the function of the down hairs.
    *     The
    distal part of the awn aids the water-shedding function of the guard hairs, though their thin basal portion prevents their being erected like true guard hairs.

"Silky" vs "Cotton" coats

(To be completed.)

Seasonal changes

  • Longhair cats have seasonal changes in their coat density and hair length.
  • In winter, they usually grow a thick undercoat as well as fawn.
  • In spring, the undercoat is shed. 
  • When they began this shed down, they can go from NO knots to total matting in a matter of a few days. 
  • In summer, mostly the longer guard hairs remain.

Grooming Tools

"Greyhound" comb

  • The "Greyhound" come was originally manufactured in he UK that made combs suitable to groom greyhounds. 
  • Today, many manufactures copy the original "Greyhound" idea to produce  stainless steel combs.
  • The quality of the stainless steel influence the price. 
  • The typical size of a "Greyhound" comb is 190 mm (7 inches) long.
  • The length of the teeth is 30 mm (1 inch).
  • The comb has two sets of teeth which differ in how close the teeth are set.
  • The most used setting is 5 teeth per cm ("fine") and 3 teeth per cm ("course").
  • The sturdy teeth are long with sharp points that enables reaching the skin of longhair cats.

Face comb

  • The "Face comb" is a miniature version of the "Greyhound" comb.
  • It is 130 mm (5 inches) long.
  • The length of the teeth is about half of the "Greyhound": 16 mm (0.6 inch).
  • The most used setting is 5 teeth per cm ("fine") and 5 teeth per cm ("course").
  • The sturdy teeth are short with sharp points that enables reaching the skin in areas where the hair is not so long: face, behind ears, legs, chin, armpits, paws.

 Stripping knife

  • Although a stripping knife was designed to strip wire-haired dogs like terriers, it can be a "life saver" for owners of longhaired cats! 
  • Never tackle a knot or mat with scissors, it may end in disaster.
  • When using scissors to cut out knots there is a fair chance that the cut will leave a visible bald spot or hole in the coat.
  • Using scissors also have the risk that the skin may get cut - often to the extend that stitches from the vet will be required!
  • The need for scissors is eliminated by a stripping knife. 
  • The company "Mikki" manufactures two types: one for fine hair and one for course hair. Both types work fine on longhair cats.
  • The "Mikky" stripping knife is an essential grooming tool for longhair coats.
  • The knife is not flat. It has a curved handle and curved blade, hence it is easy to "hook out" small knots.
  • The stripping knife is easy to handle and can be used to strip off knots behind the ears, in the armpits, between toes, on the tail, on the legs, on the tummy and anywhere else on the body. 

Slicker brush

  • Slicker brushes have hooked pins.
  • They are used to massage the skin and puff up hair, but can thin out a coat to the extend that it looses its "fluffiness".
  • Some people use them to hook out dead hair from matted coats.
  • Different sizes are available for different parts of the body.
  • It is recommend to always use with an anti-static grooming spray because dry hair breaks easily. 

Wire pin brush

  • Wire pin brushes have straight metal pins with sharp points that can gently massage the skin.
  • It is a must in the grooming utensil kit: some groomers call it the "daily brush".
  • It is recommend to always use with an anti-static grooming spray because dry hair breaks easily. 

 Porcupine brush

  • Features plastic pins that penetrates through the coat, surrounded by multiple tufted bristles that help spread essential oils.
  • Handy brush to align wet long hair after a bath in the right direction before and during blow dry.

Grooming products

Degreasing products

Example: Wampum Cat Degreaser [i-8]

  • In humans, some people tend have dry hair, whilst others may have oily hair.
  • Some longhair coats tend to become greasy. In this case, a degreasing product is recommended before a  bath. 
  • An example of a degreasing product is the "Wampum Cat Degreaser"  [31].
    *  This product contains the strongest anionic cosmetic surfactant approved
        for human use and will solubilise all oils it comes into contact with.
    CAUTION: Do not use this product near the eyes. If any of it gets into the
        eyes, rinse immediately with lots of water and apply soothing eye drops.
  • Another popular degreasing product is "Groomer's Goop".
    *   This product 
    is designed exclusively for the purpose of degreasing the
         coats of longhair cats and dogs and removing stud tail and chin acne. 
    *   The non-toxic, biodegradable, enriched formula contains glycerin, lanolin, vitamin E and Aloe Vera for important skin conditioning.
    *   It's also great for cleaning and whitening paws and bib areas.


  • Avoid scented shampoos with perfumes.
    It impairs animal smell ability and can cause stress.
  • (To be completed.)


  • (To be completed.)

 Grooming sprays

  • (To be completed.)



  • Care should always be taken not to get any degreaser, shampoo or conditioner in the eye, as it can cause chemical irritation. 


  • (To be completed.)

Bathing Procedure

 Tub bathing versus running water

  • A bath shower is an ideal facility to bath a cat.
  • The bath serves as container to house the cat.
  • The shower head enables thorough rinsing.
  •  Some people may not have access to a bath shower and must use basins or tubs to bath the cat. 

    To the right: Bath taps with shower arm  [i-7]

Set-up for bathing

  • Step one is to set up all things required before bathing, because once you have a wet cat, you cannot run around to fetch things.
  • A set-up checklist may contain the following:
    (1)     The correct shampoo
    (2)     For eye-area: baby shampoo
    (3)     Degreaser (if needed)
    (4)     Conditioner
    (5)     Soft tooth brush (to clean face, ears, lips, around eyes and chin)
    (6)     Face cloth
    (7)     Face comb
    (8)     Stripping knife
    (9)     Towels
    (10)    Dryer cage (optional)
    (11)    Dryer(s)
    (12)    Grooming spray
    (13)    Pin brush (in drying area)
    (14)    Greyhound comb (in drying area)
    (15)    Nail clipper
    (16)    Bowl for conditioner.

Cut nails

  • Step two is to cut the nails.
  • There is a lot of information readily available on the internet, both in text and on video, to answer the question of how to clip cat nails.
  • Before clipping, make sure the cat is in a comfortable position and relaxed.
  • Press gently on the toe pad to protrude the nail.
  • Clip only the sharp point of the nail off.
  • Cutting the quick causes bleeding.
  • Do not cut at a 90-degree angle: it splinters the nail tip.

 Degreasing (if needed)

  • Step three is to apply degreaser if needed.
  • It must be applied directly to the dry coat in the areas which tend to be oily, for example a stud tail.
  • Massage the degreaser into the coat. 
  • Leave up for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add a little water to the coat and work up to a lather. 
  • Rinse thoroughly. 

 Anal glands

  • Step four is to clear the anal glands.
  • Anal glands are attached to anal sacs that sit at positions 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock under the anus.
  • (To be completed.)

Grooming Techniques

Calm down the cat

  • Some cats has an intense fear for grooming.
  • Refer to Chapter 8 to learn more about how to calm down wriggling cats.

 Basic principles

  • It is important to brush your cat's entire body.
  • The grooming areas can be split up in the following different sections:
    (1)     Face and ears
    (2)     Neck and upper front chest
    (3)     Back and sides
    (4)     Chest between forelegs and front armpits
    (5)     Belly
    (6)     Right hip and inside right back leg (right part of "pants").
    (7)     Left hip and inside left back leg (left part of "pants").
    (8)     Tail
    (9)     Lower legs and paws.
  • Focus per area, working with the cat's tolerance level.
  • If the cat gets upset, give it a break, even if all areas are not covered is the some day.


  • The purpose of combing is to make the hair free of tangles: it is difficult to brush tangled hair!
  • Combs should be used when the hair is wet or tangled.
  • Hair is at it’s most fragile when wet, therefore a wide toothed comb is best for wet hair.
  • Start combing from the hair tips and work back towards the skin to eliminate tangles.
  • A comb is also used to part hair into sections.

Removing knots

  • There are so many ways to get rid of cat coat knots! The best solution depends on factors such as how big and dense the coat is, how close to the skin the knot is, how big the knot is, what type of hair density ("cotton" or "silky") and where the knot is located (tail, tummy, armpit, behind ear, legs or main body.
  • If hair is too tangled to comb out, part the hair to isolate knots. First try to do it with your fingers. You can also try a needle-work seam ripper. Take care to rip away from skin as not to prick the skin.

  • If knots are close to matting, oil the coat with an oil that has a high viscosity without a high spreading factor and that is gentle on the skin.
    *    Example of a recommendable product: Wampum Coat oil # II [31].
  • After applying the oil, wait 5 to 10 minutes for the oil to spread into the hair.
    Note: in the case of severe knotting, leave the oil in over night.
  • In case of no oil available, use a grooming spray to moisten the knot, although it may not have the same success as a high viscosity product.
  • In some cases, using a comb with rotating pins, is a breeze to roll through an oiled coat!

  • When there are still large knots after oiling that cannot be rolled through or be combed out, re-isolate the knot, using a "Greyhound" comb.
  • Steady your hand against the cat's body behind the knot and brace the knot between your fingers. This is done to reduce pain induced by pulling hair.
  • Use the "Greyhound" comb as a pick to break up the knot in smaller pieces, working from the outside of the knot.
  • Always work from the tips of hair outside the knot backwards to detangle them from the knot.
  • In case of very large and dense knots, use sharp scissors to cut the knot in smaller pieces. The way you do the cut is extremely important. If you do it wrong, you may cut the cat's skin, which can be so bad that you must rush to the vet for stitches! 
    So how does split a dense knot with scissors? 
    • Press the non-sharp side of one scissor blade firmly against the body to ensure a firm grip for entrance into the knot.
    • Wiggle the scissor blade through the knot let the blade point out above the knot. 
    • Lift the scissors slightly to not touch the skin anymore and cut in a direction away from the body.
  • After break-up(s) you can try again with your fingers. If the remainder of the knot is so dense (matted) that no more picking can be done without pulling the anchoring hair out of the skin, use a stripping knife with a "scooping" action to hook out the remainder of the knot.
  • Do not irritate the skin or cause pain. Focus on the cat's tolerance level and rather work on a big knot over a period of several days.
  • If the cat's skin seems to be in pain, it is good to have a smoothing skin spray readily available. 
    • A recommendable product is Wampum has a Smoothing Skin Spray that immediately relieves skin pain. It contains, among other ingredients, Witch Hazel and Comfrey. 


  • The purpose of brushing is to stimulate the release of natural oils of the hair. 
  • Brushing is the best way to move the natural occurring sebum from the skin down the hair shaft to smooth and soften hair. 
  • It is usually performed after combing, when all tangles have been eliminated. 
  • It also massages the skin to enhance circulation on the area. 
  • Before using a brush, test the brush over your own hand palm to familiarize yourself with different levels of pressure in order not to irritate the skin. 
  • Brush slow, deliberate and gentle from the skin in the natural direction of the hair tip. 
  • Continuous brushing against the hair grain causes discomfort. 
  • The use of an anti-static spray is recommended because dry hair breaks easier than moist hair.