What to Know Before Bringing Home a Long-Haired Cat

Himalayan Cat

It's easy to see why many feline fanciers choose long-haired cats (like Persians and Ragamuffins) as companions. They're gorgeous, for starters, and stroking that luxurious coat is an automatic stress reliever.

But a coat like that doesn't stay soft, silky and tangle-free on its own. It requires a true commitment to proper grooming. Owners of long-haired cats face a few unique challenges, so to learn more about what you should know before you bring home a Siberian, we turned to Lynn Paolillo, an instructor, certifier and groomer with the National Cat Groomers Institute of America.

Q: How much time should I plan to commit to grooming my long-haired cat? Should I do it daily? Weekly?

A:Grooming needs can vary depending on a cat’s coat type, coat texture, age, lifestyle and overall health. Large or overweight cats may need help cleaning their sanitary area after using the litterbox since they have trouble reaching back there. Brachycephalic cats, like Persians and Himalayans, need regular cleaning of the eye area to prevent tear staining and even infections in the folds of the skin.

However, all long-haired cats will require the owner to help care for his or her coat. Frequency can range from once a month to once every day. The length of each session depends on the cat’s needs. The softer and more cottony the cat's hair, the more maintenance that is required.

Q: Will I be able to meet all my long-haired cat's grooming needs at home, or will I need to find a cat-specific groomer?

A:A cat’s grooming needs can be met at home depending on how much time and effort the owner can dedicate to those needs, but it can be very difficult for the average owner to set aside enough time.

Also, many cats are not used to the grooming process and can lash out in fear, leading to bites and scratches to the owner. A trained professional cat groomer will have knowledge and experience handling a cat. Since cats are very different from dogs during the grooming process, it is important for cat owners to thoroughly research an appropriate groomer for their feline.

Q: What should I look for in a groomer?

A:Training, experience and grooming environment should all be taken into consideration when choosing a groomer. Many cats do better in a quiet environment that is not in the same room as barking dogs. Some grooming salons offer cat-only hours or days. Elderly or very nervous cats may do better being groomed in their own environment, such as with a mobile or in-home groomer.

At this time, the grooming profession is unregulated — which means there is no licensing or requirements to be a groomer. So it is important for owners to do their own research when seeking out a groomer's services. The National Cat Groomers Institute of America came about to offer training and certification to groomers seeking to advance their cat grooming skills. Students have attended NCGIA's cat grooming school from all over the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and more! The organization's members, graduates and trained Certified Feline Master Groomers can be located through the NCGIA's website.

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