The cat’s own tongue is a well-adapted tool for grooming its natural, I.e. shorthaired, coat. Strictly speaking, there is no need for owners to groom shorthaired cats for most of the year, although brushing does keep the cat tractable and allows close examination of its condition.
Moulting and hair balls
Cats normally moult twice a year, but moulting is frequently prolonged by poor feeding or by ill-health. When a shorthaired cat is moulting , its owner’s attention is vital. During moulting, an ungroomed cat will swallow some loose hairs, some of which may become lodged in the digestive tract and become matted with food to form hard balls. These hair balls can cause serious blockages, and they may even need veterinary attention. Grooming will help to prevent them.
If cats swallow hair, they will eat grass as an emetic to make themselves vomit. Fot this reasons, grass should always be available to them. City cats may need to have some grown in a flower pot.
Most shorthaired cats will benefit greatly from regular grooming - not only when they are moulting - so you should get your cat accustomed to being groomed from an early age. Use a very fine toothed comb to effectively remove loose and dead hair from the cat’s coat along with dead flakes of skin, and fleas, too, if they are present. The comb will catch fleas and will also remove the tell-tale dark flecks of their excreta from the coat.
Longhaired cats are quite unable to groom themselves adequately. Their long fur is the result of breeding from longhaired mutants which would probably have died out in the wild. No wild cat has hair of this length and no cat is capable of grooming its fur by itself without your help. Unless they are groomed daily, longhaired cats may develop a seriously matted coat.
This is absolutely essential for all the longhaired breeds, and many experienced fanciers recommend two or even three grooming sessions a day. Any burr, small twig or fragment of a dead leaf will otherwise quickly become the centre of a tangle that will have to be cut out. In really extreme cases, the badly matted longhaired cat may need to be anaesthetized by a veterinary surgeon for de-matting.
From a very early age, all longhaired cats will need to become accustomed to their coat being brushed out and combed every day as a matter of routine. At first, you must take care not to overtax a kitten’s patience. In time, it will get accustomed to the experience and may even come to enjoy it. For your part, it will help you to bond with your cat.
Bathing a cat
This is not necessary, although some white cats like bathing , notably the Turkish Van. Dry shampoos are available for occasional use.