How to ensure that your cat’s coat is in excellent condition. The quality of a cat’s coat is controlled by a number of factors including:
- hormone concentrations;
- general health;
- parasite infestation;
- how well and how often the cat grooms themselves and;
- how often their human guardian combs and brushes her.
Hyperthyroidism (thyroid cancer) is caused by an overproduction of the thyroid hormone due to a tumour in the thyroid gland resulting in an unkempt coat and hair loss among other symptoms.
Alopecia (hair loss) and dermatosis (diseased skin) in which the fur may be soft or dry and brittle including other symptoms might be caused by adrenal gland reproductive hormones that are below normal levels, too much oestrogen, too much or not enough androgen. See a vet about these.
This is budget dependent but the best quality wet food is considered the best food for domestic cats. It should be complete and balanced to contain all the required nutrients. A correct weight should be maintained as overweight cats have difficulty self-grooming leading to a less than good coat condition. Omega-3 fatty acids can help promote a health coat. You can get them in supplements.
This about a holistic approach to maintaining good health in a cat. It is dependent on many factors such as the food they are given, the ambience of their home, environmental enrichment, amount of play, interactions with their owner, exercise, weight – neither under or overweight and so on.
There are many external parasites which can affect the quality of the coat through damaging the skin. For example, a large reddish mite causes walking dandruff (Cheyletiella mange) which results in a large amount of dry, scaly material that looks like dandruff. It is heaviest on the back, neck and sides.
Another skin parasite is chiggers causing patches of raw skin sometimes. They cause severe irritation. The cat will probably overgroom thinning out the coat. There are other external parasites such as sarcoptic mange which cause hair loss and demodectic mange which causes hair loss and crusty sores which itch and become infected.
This refers to inherited genetics. In the extreme some cats have inherited a genetic mutation which makes them almost hairless or given them wavy fur e.g. the Sphynx. Well-bred British Shorthairs have dense, lush fur which is particularly pleasant to stroke. This is due to the genetic makeup of the cat through selective breeding.
A well-balanced and content cat in good health, both physical and mental, will self-groom a lot and be very efficient and effective at it resulting in a well-maintained coat. The keratin spines on the tongue act as the teeth of a comb. There is nothing more effective.
Over-grooming is often due to stress as grooming is destressing for a cat. Persians and Himalayans have fur which is so long due to selective breeding that it is too difficult for the cat to maintain on their own. Human intervention is required to avoid matting and keep the coat is excellent condition.
I comb my shorthaired cat at least once a day more or less all over except for the belly with a flea comb. The teeth are very tight. This is a multi-win activity. His coat benefits tremendously from the process. The sebaceous glands are stimulated which means more natural oils on the coat making it shiny.
Flea combing is essential but combing per se can be carried out with a standard comb with round teeth. It should be narrow-toothed. A wide-toothed comb is good for long hair. Some combs are combos with narrow and wide teeth on opposing sides.
Brushes are good, too, especially those with natural bristles as they produce less static electricity compared to nylon ones. Watch out for static on dry days. Cats find it unpleasant. Dampening the brush should help.
A slicker brush works well for shorthaired cats. It has short, stiff wires which feel like the spines of a tongue to the cat. They are good for removing dead hair.
The coat can be polished with a pram brush (hound glove). It is used on shorthaired cats. A piece of chamois leather also works.
I always work from the head and shoulders towards the tail including the tail. But I think each cat owner can find their own technique as long as it is gentle and that the matts are never forced out. It should be through and a pleasant experience for the. You know you’ve done it right when your cat asks for it every day at the same time.
Matts are problematic. A professional may have to remove them. DIY cutting off matts must be done with extreme caution and care.
Note: this is not necessarily completely comprehensive. Please add more advice in a comment if you can. It would certainly help. Thanks in advance.
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