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Long hair cats are beautiful, but cats in general are inherently lazy (and they all have sharp claws!) so how do you help them deal with all the extra fluff? Especially when they don’t want you too?

Long Hair Cat Grooming tips and ideas - especially for difficult felinesI am not going to pretend that these tips will work for everyone because as a cat owner you will know that cats cannot be forced to do anything! – all we can do is try to coerce and trick them into thinking they wanted this in the first place!

This post features Pheonix who is a long hair Tortoishell kitty! (which you will know if you have read: Meet The Toolbox Kitties)

Long Hair Cat Grooming tips and ideas - especially for difficult felines
Pheonix – Our Long Hair Feline

When it comes to cat grooming it is all about the return visit! when you are at the hairdressers, if you get a good experience you will go back, it is the same with cats! yes, it is that simple.

Everyone assumes that it is the way you brush them  but actually it is the whole interaction in general (including the signals you are giving off), some love being groomed and others will try to claw your eyes out (I’ve dealt with both!) so here are my best tips for helping the long hair fluffies have a decent (stress free-ish) hair day!


If you have a particularly stressy cat then you should focus on interacting with them in similar ways everyday before introducing the brush.

For example, if they are particularly knotty underneath (poor you) then try integrating “tummy rubs” into the evening cuddle, so that you touching that area is not unusual for them. If you don’t normally stroke their tummy, they are going to find it really weird if you start brushing it.. they don’t understand what a brush is or what you are doing….

Ways to brush difficult cats
“Relaxed is my middle name”

Allowing your cat to get used to you interacting with certain areas makes them feel more relaxed when it comes to getting the brush out. If the only time you try to get cuddly with them is when you are trying to groom them, they are going to realise very quickly and not let you anywhere near them!

The Tickle Technique

This is the oldest trick in the book and you have probably already used it but basically it’s all about mis-direction. Stroke, tickle and brush at the same time – try not to let the cat see you brushing them, that way they just assume you are stroking them as usual. This works great if there is two of you (human’s not cats) … as far as kitty is concerned it is getting the love and attention of its adoring fans!

Brushing difficult cats
In one of her favourite hiding places

Keep the brush Handy

If you know that your cat is due a brush then get it out and leave it on the counter or in an easy to reach area in the room that the cat frequently visits! (ours is in the top kitchen drawer for easy access). There is nothing more off putting to a cat than you,  suddenly having to stop what you were doing and rummage around in draws and cupboards, trying to find a brush (that most of the time they don’t even want anyway)

Don’t act like a ninja

The pink panther theme is not playing, you are not a ninja and the cat will see you coming… you want to brush your cat? go up and give them a stroke and try and brush them… don’t sneak up on them and pretend you’re not doing it….. they can sense you being a weirdo and it puts them off!

Pick your moment

Ways to brush difficult cats!
They Don’t Like to be woken up to be brushed

If they are eating, they don’t want brushing….. if they are mid snooze, try not to wake them up (which is hard with Pheonix since she is in an ongoing perpetual state of snooze during the winter).

The point is,  just like in everday life, if you are trying to convince people of something, pick your moment!! e.g. I make sure my dad has a pint (of beer) in his hand before I ask for money :p

More than one sitting 

Unless your cat is a brush lover (in which case you probably wouldn’t have read this far) it’s better to do short sittings and try once or twice a day, rather than do it altogether.

This way they don’t associate brushing with a long horrible process it is something shorter for them to tolerate! – you know they have very little patience with us humans anyway!

Don’t make it “a thing”

Brushing difficult cats
“You’re going to try to brush me, aren’t you!”

I wanted to make this clear – they know when something is up…. if you get nervous and make a big deal by turning it into “brushing time” the likelihood is it’s going to be hide and seek time… act normal.. be normal and your cat won’t get so suspicious of you.

Have the right Tools

There are a lot of different types of brushes out there:

This is the one I use which is the best for us, doesn’t seem to scratch the cats and is quite inexpensive in the scheme of things (affiliate Link):

But you may find that harder or softer bristles (or even a comb) would work better for you and your cat, it depends what they like and how matted their fur is.

On that note, I would invest in a decent pair of scissors – don’t be afraid to get in their and cut the lumps out that just won’t brush out – there’s no point in stressing you and the cat further! – The rule I live by is if I can’t break it apart then Pheonix gets an amature trim!

Another essential tool is TREATS – any sort of bribery, if that’s what it takes to calm them down then why not! just make sure they don’t have too many otherwise you’ll need to read my Weight Loss Tips for Your Fat Cat post!

and finally…it’s ok to give up

I didn’t count this in the 8 tips because it technically isn’t BUT…

8 Ways To Brush Difficult Cats - The Help you need so your cat can have their best "furday"
perfectly pinnable for you to share! 🙂

Grooming cats can take more patience than a saint has at some points but overall it shouldn’t be a stressful experience SO, if you are getting mauled everytime you try and brush them and you cannot find a way to calm your cat (or you ) down then you need to get to the vets and let the professionals handle it. Some cats are just bitchy about being brushed,  you are not a failure,  they just aren’t going to let you do it. Time to go to the vets for a “professional haircut” – let them be the bad guys!

If you think I have missed anything then let me know in the comments section or Tweet me your cat grooming tweets to @themummytoolbox 🙂 

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19 comments on “8 Ways To Brush “Difficult” Long Hair Cats”

  1. Thanks for this post, I really appreciate this. Cats can get dandruff as they get older, but providing a good-quality diet, supplementing their food with fatty acids and using topical moisturizing sprays can help treat and prevent dry, flaky skin.

  2. Our cat which is a long haired tortoiseshell requires very little grooming, she keeps her fur beautifully clean, but she does like a good brush as a treat, especially on her tummy

  3. Long hair cats are so beautiful, but I don’t have any experience with them. All of my cats have been self-sufficient short hair ones. Such a gorgeous cat you have!

  4. I love this post – I love cats so much, there is no kidding them! Mine has short hair, thank goodness. I can’t imagine her letting me brush her! Kaz x

  5. Great tips here and I agree brushing a cat can be very difficult particularly since they are so independent and won’t do anything they don’t want to do. Your tips are spot on though, just acting normal will make the situation so much better!

  6. Our cat dumped us for an elderly woman who lives alone last year. Can’t really blame her. With a noisy 5-year-old and annoying dog, I might even ask the woman to adopt me too 😉 Boots had short hair though, so I didn’t really get any chance to groom her. #animaltales.

  7. Not sure I could cope with a cat with such long fur, our cat is short haired which is fortunate as he hates being touched! Lots of great tips, I especially like the tickle one – we did this with our dog:)

  8. Oh I do miss our cats! Fortunately they both loved brushing (short hair though) and our dog does too.

    Fabulous tips Charlotte. You don’t think about how they see you coming with that brush! I hope cat lovers try out your tips.


  9. I totally agree you have to pick your moment, cats have quite a flighty personality if they are not in the mood, good to keep on top of it though as fur balls are no fun. #AnimalTales

  10. I haven’t got a cat but these are great tips for ones who own one with long hair. I guess the principles are the same for a dog with long hair. Love the tip of not to be a ninja. Stroke, tickle and brush sounds like the best way x

  11. The ‘you are not a ninja’ comment actually made me laugh out loud in public…!

    Brilliant, none of my cats have ever let me groom them, but thankfully they were all shorties.

    I may use some of these tips on my dog though!!

    Leah xx

  12. Ha! I can imagine how difficult this could get. Luckily we had a short haired cat before and now we don’t have one but this is a useful and fun post to read and will come in handy for anyone needing tips on this. Angela from Daysinbed

  13. I’m so lucky! Not only are my guys short hairs, but when I pick up the brush and shake it, they come running. They looooove it and will even “fight” for first “dibs”.

  14. I love reading your cat posts, they’re so informative in a light hearted sort of way. Our boy (a Ragdoll) is a semi-longhair and has got used to being brushed thankfully – though I do struggle with his tummy and sternum area so I like your tickle technique tip – we’ll certainly give that a go. One thing I always notice is that he has loads of dead hair/fur coming out of his coat when I pet him immediately after I’ve brushed him. I’ve taken to using a rubber mit (I got ours from Pets at Home for a fiver)which uses static to happily bring away the dead fur. It has the added benefit of stopping him digesting as much fur when he grooms himself which therefore means fewer fur balls! Hurrah!
    We’ve been saving Chester’s fur for a while now after grooming him and in early spring we thread it through a bird’s peanut feeder. Little blue tits etc find the fur (especially if you feed the birds) and take clumps of the cat fur in their beak to line their nest with. It’s so comical watching them fly with masses of fur from one of heir main predators! but nice to think of their babies being snug in the cat fur when they’ve hatched! You’ve got to try it!

    • thanks angela! haha I love that idea! circle of life :p I don’t think chester would approve :p but I’ll have to give that a go! thanks for commenting xx

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