How do I brush this cat?
January 3, 2014 2:37 AM   Subscribe

I have never successfully brushed my cat. I even got a Furminator, which worked extremely well, the one time I managed to brush him for about 3 seconds. The problem is that he thinks it is a toy. In fact, I have never brought any object close to his little cat body that he has not playfully attacked unless asleep. It is definitely playful and not aggressive. I have also tried the method of slow acclimation, but this thing can go from peaceful/sleepy to attacky in an instant.

The layer of cat hair on everything I own doesn't bother me too much. But he should be brushed. Any ideas on how to do this?
posted by nj554 to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried a grooming mitt or glove? They're a knobbly device you wear on your hand and pet the cat, and thereby do some low-level brushing. I'm thinking of something like this.
posted by graymouser at 2:45 AM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Pet the cat. Get the cat all blissed out with petting. Then start brushing, alternating with more petting. Make it so he associates brushing with affection rather than play.

Basically, when you're brushing him, you're enacting the role of his mother licking his fur. If he persists, it's OK to gently hold him in place, as a mother cat might do to a wayward kitten.

If it turns out he doesn't like the Furminator, try a bristle brush. (I have one Furminator-loving cat and one who dislikes it and prefers a softer bristle brush.)

Hope some of this is helpful. I have got my cat Milo to the stage where I'll hold out the Furminator and he'll say "yes" by rubbing his face on it.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:49 AM on January 3, 2014

A furminator is quite hardcore, in the sense that it tugs quote a lot at the undercoat. Looking at your cat's fur that's quite a lot of tugging. Try a normal grooming brush first and use it little and often, stopping the moment your cat reacts. Then stroke him until he is calm. I wouldn't go straight for a furminator on a cat unused to being groomed.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:25 AM on January 3, 2014

Our cat loves this.

I'm not actually sure how much hair it gets out, but it might be pleasant enough that it would pave the way for another brush that your kitty might not attack.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:59 AM on January 3, 2014

The right mood is important. When your cat is in snuggle-purr-mode it is the right time. Sleep is a vulnerable state, don't "surprise" your cat with something he doesn't (yet) like when he is asleep.
Try simple tools, like a comb or a brush first.
Let the cat smell the tool. Control your movements to not give the cat the impression it is play time.
If you talk to your cat, talk in a really sweet voice about what a great boy he is so he associates the brushing with good times. Pet him! You can try petting with one hand and brushing with the other.
Start gently brushing the sides of his face or the chin area. Only brush his favorite parts! Many cats dislike being brushed on the lower back- avoid places that he dislikes. Pet him generously.
Only brush for a short while at a time.
Your cats undercoat could be a bit tangled, so start with slow and light strokes.
Don't attempt to brush the whole cat in one sitting. It might take months to get him used to it.

My cat loves brushing. Particularly a knock-off tangle-teezer (not a cat product) is her favorite. We also use a baby comb (not a cat product) for her face & head. She purrs, closes her eyes and opens her mouth in delight. So cute! Whenever she sees the tangle-teezer or even hears me handle it, she comes swiftly to get brushed. We have other tools, but those are the faves.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:05 AM on January 3, 2014

You need to deactivate him. I'm absolutely serious. You don't need to use a binder clip, but if you do you'll have both hands free for brushing. Otherwise you can just scruff him with one hand and use the other to brush. I have five cats and this is how we brush, and clip the nails of the three that try to eat us when we do so.

Totally works.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:07 AM on January 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Brushes, combs and the furminator get my cat over-excited. The Zoom Groom turns her into a puddle of cat on my lap. Which reminds me, she'll only sit still for any brushing if I keep her on my lap.
posted by klarck at 5:38 AM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

My Siamese cat loved the vacuum cleaner. She'd follow me, flopping down to be "brushed" with it.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:08 AM on January 3, 2014

Best answer: If he wants to play attack anything you bring near him, try giving him something else to attack at the same time as brushing him? My semi-longhaired cat was much easier to brush if you held a toy (or his favourite, an old rubber-handled toothbrush) for him to claw at and bite while you were brushing.
posted by Catseye at 6:18 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I came to say zoom groom as well. It feels like fingers to the cat and does a really good job of getting loose hair off the cat.
posted by magnetsphere at 6:50 AM on January 3, 2014

Do you have two brushes? You should give your cat a separate brush or comb to rub his FACE against -- cheeks, etc. While he is doing that, try gently brushing him with the other brush. If you let him attack the face brush and get him engaged with that, he might be happy to let you brush his body while he does his thing with the face brush. (Don't use a Furminator for that, obviously.)

Are you making sure to brush only when he is in a very calm/sleepy mood? It's good to keep the brushes next to the couch so you can brush him when he is cuddled up close and sort of half asleep.

You might also try playing with him to the point of exhaustion (light panting, flopping on his side) for twenty to thirty minutes. Give him something small to eat immediately after playtime. When he is done eating, he should be super relaxed and ready to groom! Tack this on to the two-brush method.

Your kitty has long hair and should ideally be brushed every day! With a shedding comb specifically made for long-haired cats! Good luck!
posted by brina at 6:54 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have a brush biter in our house too and we give him a small stuffed toy to attack as we brush him.
posted by advicepig at 7:45 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

What brina and Catseye said. My upstairs neighbour has a slightly crazed cat who does the same thing with brushes. Solution: start with one brush, let him get his paws on it and chew it, rub it against his face etc. He's then perfectly happy to be groomed by brush #2.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:25 AM on January 3, 2014

Why do you say you have to brush him? I have a cat (Brother) with a very similar appearing coat. He does like to be brushed, and it does pull a huge pike of garbage out during shedding season. But he's not giving me hairballs, and he's not mating, so there's no pressing reason to do it.

For what its worth, the most effective tool I've found for grooming cats is a good quality standard 8" people comb, with half coarse and half fine tines. Its easy to use, it can smooth out most any cat coat with the coarse tines, and I've found nothing better for clearing the loose hair out than the fine tines. I groomed a lot of cats at a nearby shelter like this, tried all sorts of things, and nothing worked as well or was as versatile. The only other tool I'd get, if needed, is a mat knife - its got a set of five or six specially shaped razor blades on it, so that you aren't likely to snag the cat.
posted by wotsac at 8:43 AM on January 3, 2014

InsanePenguin, have you done this at home? Binder clips seem really pinchy to me. I'd love to try it but I don't want to hurt my kitties.
posted by janey47 at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2014

I'm going to second or third or nth a ZoomGroom. In addition to being pretty awesome at grooming (and feeling good to boot) because it's cradled in my palm my cat is more likely to see it as an extension of my hand than as a toy.
posted by sm1tten at 11:16 AM on January 3, 2014

my cat loves being brushed. but when we brush his tummy he needs distraction, so i crinkle a crinkle for him or dangle a toy while my partner brushes his luxurious belly furs. distraction is key to keep the brush from being a toy in these situations.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:50 PM on January 3, 2014

janey, I have done it with binder clips but I usually just use my hands as I end up holding the cats and maneuvering them so my wife can easily get to all their toes. I wouldn't worry too much about hurting them, as kittens their mothers carry them that way, with teeth. As long as you're not suspending them by the scruff I don't think there's a real problem.

Cute cats!
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:12 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cat likes "damp hands": when I get out of the shower she begins meowing and won't stop until I give her a rather hard, all-over petting with damp hands. When your hands are damp they will stick to fur that needs to come out. After she got used to that I started bringing a brush into the equation and she played/bit/pawed that a lot but I got a few licks in every day. Now she turns up promptly for damp hands and brushing.
posted by jet_silver at 4:46 PM on January 3, 2014

Those of us home were all just flabbergasted at that "deactivate" video, and (the kids) wanted to immediately try it. I was like it makes sense, but no - at least not til I research it some.

And I found a study, an article on a veterinarian site, and at least one "Clipnosis" specialty product on the market.

I have this psycho-kitten I'd love to be able to trim nails on, so a big THANK YOU for mentioning cat deactivation!
posted by stormyteal at 7:37 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

janey47: "Binder clips seem really pinchy to me. I'd love to try it but I don't want to hurt my kitties."

Suggestion: test the clip first by clamping it on the meaty portion of the base of your thumb*. Clips vary in how pinchy they are.

* I know I'm not the only person who helps stay focused while doing boring tasks, like studying or photocopying, by fiddling with a binder clip, idly clamping and unclamping it on my hands or forearms. Ugol's Law says I'm not.
posted by Lexica at 8:46 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

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