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8 Ways To Brush “Difficult” Long Hair Cats

8 Ways To Brush Difficult Cats - The Help you need so your cat can have their best "furday"

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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?

I 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)

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….

“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!

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

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”

“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…

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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