Anyone with cats knows that a change of season means its time to shave the couch. At least, that’s what it feels like with the amount of cat hair that settles in your house. No matter how often you vacuum, sweep, mop, dust, or run the leaf blower through your home it just seems to be a never-ending battle against the fur! Having had cats most of my life I generally stuck with brushing as the way to control the shedding, but I decided to look at some of the new cat shedding tools on the market that claim to reduce or even stop shedding altogether. What’s the worst that can happen, right?
I started by looking at the tech gadgets, and who knew there were so many cat shedding tools? Mini vacuums, rotating brushes, something that looked like a cross between a curling iron and a fish scaler that claimed to descend with sound, this could end badly right off the start. I decided to forgo the most far-fetched devices (because any cat that sees you coming at it with the equivalent of a Barbie-sized weed eater is going to Tear You Up) and looked at the mini vacuums first.
In theory, I’m sure it seemed like a good idea. You suck up the hair from your couch and your carpet, why not save a step and suck it right off your cat? Well, I’ll tell you why it’s the noise. Few cats enjoy, let alone tolerate, even being in the same house with a running vacuum cleaner. Coming at a cat with a pocket-sized one buzzing like a tiny chainsaw doesn’t make it any less intimidating. I’m sure out there somewhere are a few cats that love the feel of the wind being drawn through their luscious locks of fur, but there are none of those cats in my house.
My next step to cat shedding tools was a more passive approach. There are many cat shedding tools out there that you can place around your home, the premise being the cat will accidentally bump into it, instantly be smitten with the way it feels against their body and returns to it repeatedly to allow the combs/bristles/knobs/nubs to remove all that nasty excess hair. Again, great theory. Problem? Have you ever tried to get a cat to go to a specific point in your house and rub against something the way you want it to? You should try it some time. Just make sure your neighbor isn’t on your front porch watching, slightly horrified, as you attempt to demonstrate to your kitty how it needs to put its head through the brushy hoop. Actually, no, that’s not completely a bad idea. Sometimes you need the neighbor to get the hoop off your head.
I finally concluded that a cat could care less about where the fur leaving its body ends up in your house. If you want that fur dealt with you are going to have to do it yourself. There are as many variations of cat brushes as there are stars in the sky, but you can usually narrow the choice down by the type of fur you are dealing with. Soft bristles work well on short hair, but you will probably want wire or slicker brushes for long hair. I like to use a regular comb on my long hairs, so I can properly get down to the skin and gently remove tangles. If you have a kitten start immediately with weekly grooming sessions, include rubbing ears and toes to make vet visits and nail trims easier and more manageable. Do NOT use the comb or brush as a toy and have treats handy to distract and reward good behavior. If you have an older cat, you can still introduce it to grooming that it can tolerate. Try the gloves with the rubber nubs on them, as the cat will think it is just a petting session as you remove the loose fur. Be careful in either case to avoid areas that the cat finds intolerable- the dreaded belly area. Watch for ear and tail twitches signaling discomfort or dislike. Maybe do a few minutes a day rather than trying to brush the entire cat in one sitting. Talk to your veterinarian for ways to calm your cat for home grooming. In a worst-case scenario, if you have a cat that you simply cannot keep untangled consider a professional groom. Find a reputable cat groomer that uses gentle, fear-free techniques in their handling and care.
One thing often overlooked in cases of extreme or constant shedding is diet. Feeding a quality diet that has a balance of vitamins and minerals along with fatty acids can go a long way to reducing the amount of shedding a cat may have in that it creates healthier skin and less dryness. Underlying health issues can also cause excessive hair loss, so always consult with your veterinarian if you have concerns about the amount of fur you see coming off your kitty.
My bottom line on cat shedding tools? I’m sure a lot of research went into a lot of those products that are new and flashy and need batteries and filters, but for me, it’s just back to the good old brush. The more time I spend grooming my cats, the better they become at tolerating it and the less hair they seem to lose. There are a lot of worse ways to spend an hour!