Cats are very clean by nature. Therefore thorough grooming is part of a cats daily routine. Little kittens must first learn how to groom themselves. They are first groomed by their mother, and therefore, grooming is also part of the social behavior of each cat. Cats are also grooming other cats - or their humans. This is the expression of a social bond.

Even small kittens should be accustomed to brushing, especially if it is a long haired kitten (Maine coon, Norwegian forest cat, etc.).

Long-haired cats also often need help with grooming as adults, as their long hair can easily become matted. In addition, brushing, as well as stroking and scratching, plays an important role for a good relationship between cats and their humans. It is best to use a special brush for cats. Most cats like brushing, and express it very clearly!

Although grooming is a normal thing for the cat, there are situations where cats are no longer able to reach all their body parts, for example because they have mobility issues due to increasing age. Various scientific studies found that nearly half of all cats > 12 years suffer from orthopedic pain, mostly due to articular arthritis and/or stiffening of the spinal column.

When cats groom themselves less, it is an indication that something is wrong. The same applies to the contrary, i.e. excessive grooming. In either case, a veterinarian should be consulted so the cat can be helped. 
A prerequisite for a beautiful, shiny coat is, besides grooming, is also a healthy cat, whose needs are satisfied, and a happy cat that feels comfortable in her skin. The hair roots need various nutrients for healthy growth, e.g. Omega fatty acids, vitamins, essential amino acids and the trace elements zinc and copper. The same applies to the skin.

So the swallowed hair does not cause the cat any issues with digestion, in addition to the obligatory cat grass, the cat should also be offered a high quality paste with malt and/or elm crust. This is especially true for long-haired cats
Mats in the coat should be avoided. The skin under the mats can shed heavily, and a "matted" cat feels visibly uncomfortable.

Overall, it can be said that a cats skin and coat are a mirror of their health. Especially long-haired cats, but also short-haired cats benefit from the regular brushing. Fur care also strengthens the relationship between humans and cats. But it shouldn´t hurt, so small mats should be removed with small, quiet clippers (for example, from Aesculap®, model Isis). In addition, skin health can and should be supported by feeding appropriate snacks and treats.

Article by Dr. Birgit Leopold-Temmler, Small animal veterinarian

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