How to Groom a Long Haired Cat

Table of Contents

Whether you have a Maine Coon, Balinese, or Persian cat, grooming long-haired cats frequently is important to keep your cat looking good, prevent matting, and help reduce shedding.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the entire process of grooming your long-haired cat and give you tips to make the process easier.

Long-Haired Cat Grooming Tools

cat grooming tools

If you read our cat grooming guide, you should have a good idea of the tools you’ll need to get the job done but let’s do a quick recap anyway.

Grooming Brush

Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush

Slicker brushes are great for removing mats and tangles, while a bristle brush is best for the top coat. A good slicker brush to consider is the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush.

You’ll also want to have a wide-toothed comb for the undercoat and a fine-toothed comb for the top coat. No, a brush alone isn’t enough. Combing is still important (you’ll see why).

Grooming Comb

Why do I need a comb if I have a brush?

Combs help remove dirt and debris from your cat’s fur. You’ll want to have both a wide-toothed comb and a fine-toothed comb. Always start with the wide-toothed comb to detangle fur.

The JW Pet Gripsoft Double Row Undercoat Rake is an excellent long-toothed comb to consider.


Scissors help get to the small areas when trimming fur.

We’ll use the pair of scissors to trim your cat’s fur around the face, ears, and feet.

You’ll also want to trim the fur around the eyes and nose to keep it out of the cat’s face, and the fur on the tail and legs to keep it from dragging on the ground.

Nail Clippers

We’ll use the nail clippers to trim your cat’s nails. Start with the front paws and work your way back, being careful not to cut too close to the quick. If you have a dog, do NOT use its nail clippers to trim your cat’s nails. Different pet nail clippers work differently.

Dematting Tool (Optional)

dematting a cat's hair

A dematting tool is a specialized tool designed to help remove mats in your cat’s fur. This tool has sharp blades that are used to cut through mats without pulling on your cat’s skin.

It is important to use a dematting tool carefully and gently to avoid injuring your cat. The Furminator Dematting Tool is a popular choice for long-haired cat owners.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Apply conditioner to matted hair

This is self-explanatory but still important to mention. Please don’t use regular shampoo and conditioner. Instead, get shampoo and conditioner specifically made for cats.

Cotton Balls or Q-Tips

These will help us clean your cat’s ears safely. Feel free to get an ear-cleaning solution as well (DO NOT put the solution in your cat’s ears).

Now that we have all the tools we need, let’s start the actual grooming process.

Step 1: Brushing and Combing

brushing and combing a long-haired cat
Credit: RODNAE Productions

Begin by using a slicker brush to gently work through any tangles or mats in your cat’s fur. Start at the top of their head and work your way down to their tail, brushing in the direction of hair growth. Be sure to use gentle, slow movements to avoid causing your cat discomfort.

Follow with a Long-Toothed Comb: After using a slicker brush, use a long-toothed comb to further work through any tangles or mats. This type of comb is designed to gently work through your cat’s fur without pulling on their skin. Be sure to comb in the direction of hair growth, working from the roots to the tips of the fur.

Use the Dematting Tool for Stubborn Mats: If you come across a stubborn mat that you can’t work through with a slicker brush and long-toothed comb, use a dematting tool to carefully cut through the mat. Use caution while using a dematting tool to avoid injuring your cat, and always work slowly and carefully.

Brush and Comb Regularly: The frequency of brushing and combing your long-haired cat will depend on their individual needs, but as a general rule, it’s recommended to brush and comb at least once a week. If your cat is prone to matting, you may need to brush and comb more frequently. Regular brushing and combing will help keep your cat’s coat healthy and prevent tangles and mats from forming.


  1. Start at the head and work your way down.
  2. Use a slicker brush for mats and tangles
  3. Use a bristle brush for the top coat
  4. Use a wide-toothed comb for the undercoat
  5. Use a fine-toothed comb for the top coat

Step 2: Bathing your Cat

bathing a cat
Credit: Karin Chantanaprayura

Using a handheld shower head or pitcher, wet your cat’s fur with lukewarm water. Be sure to avoid getting water in their ears and eyes.

Apply a small amount of cat-specific shampoo to your cat’s fur and gently massage it in. Avoid getting shampoo on their face, ears, and eyes.

Using lukewarm water, rinse your cat thoroughly to remove all of the shampoo from its fur.

If your cat’s fur tends to tangle or mat easily, you may want to apply a small amount of conditioner to their fur. Massage it in gently and rinse it out thoroughly.

Use a soft towel to pat your cat dry, being sure to avoid rubbing or pulling on their fur. You can also use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting to dry your cat’s fur, being sure to keep the dryer at least a foot away from your cat’s skin.

When to Bathe a Long-Haired Cat

As a general rule, you should only bathe your long-haired cat when it is absolutely necessary.

Cats groom themselves regularly, and over-bathing can strip their fur of its natural oils, leading to dry skin and other health problems. If your cat has gotten into something sticky or dirty, or if they have a skin condition that requires treatment, a bath may be necessary. That said, regular grooming, brushing and combing should be sufficient.

Simply put, bathe your cat if any of the following happens:

  • Your cat has gotten into something messy, like paint or motor oil
  • Your cat has a skin condition, such as ringworm, that requires bathing
  • Your cat has long hair that has become matted or dirty and cannot be groomed out

Step 3: Trimming the Fur

cat fur trimming

Use scissors to trim the fur around the face, ears, and feet. Do NOT use clippers hair. We recommend using clippers if you are a professional groomer or if your cat has matted hair.

Trim the fur around the eyes and nose to keep it out of the cat’s face

Trim the fur on the tail and legs to keep it from dragging on the ground

Step 4: Clipping your Cat’s Nails

cat nail clipping
Credit: Gustavo Fring

In addition to keeping your cat healthy, trimming your cat’s nails helps prevent your cat from scratching up furniture, carpets, and other household items, and also prevents painful nail breakage or ingrown nails.

Here’s how to trim your cat’s nails:

1. Grab your cat’s paw and gently press on its paid to “open up the claws”

2. Start with the front paws and work your way back

3. Cut the tip of your cat’s nails ONLY! Don’t cut too close to the root of the nail

Step 5: Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears

cleaning cat ears

Cleaning your cat’s ears helps prevent ear infections and can alert you to any potential health issues such as mites.

  1. Apply a small amount of the ear cleaner solution onto a cotton ball or pad. If you didn’t buy an ear-cleaning solution, water will do.
  2. Gently fold back your cat’s ear flap and wipe the inside of the ear with the cotton ball or pad.
  3. Check for mites. Mites look like ground black coffee. If you see signs of mites, take your cat to the vet immediately!

Step 6: Dealing with Hairballs

Hairballs are a common problem for long-haired cats.

Hairballs form when your cat ingests hair while grooming and cannot digest it.

Here are some tips for dealing with hairballs while grooming your cat (consult your veterinarian first)

  1. Brush your cat regularly. Regular brushing can help reduce the amount of loose hair your cat ingests.
  2. Add a hairball control supplement to your cat’s diet. These supplements can help prevent hairballs from forming.
  3. Give your cat a hairball remedy treat. These treats help lubricate the digestive system, making it easier for hairballs to pass.
  4. Visit the vet. If your cat is vomiting frequently or appears to be constipated, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying health issues.

In conclusion, grooming your long-haired cat is an essential part of their overall health and well-being. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can keep your cat’s fur looking shiny and healthy, prevent hairballs, and reduce the risk of health issues such as ear infections.

Remember to brush and comb your cat’s coat regularly, trim their nails, and clean their ears to keep them healthy and comfortable. Additionally, if you’re unsure about any part of the grooming process, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

By taking the time to groom your long-haired cat regularly, you’ll not only keep them looking and feeling their best, but you’ll also strengthen the bond between you and your feline friend. So go ahead and give your cat a good brushing – they’ll thank you for it (through meowing)!

Grooming a Long-Haired Cat FAQs

Let’s answer some of the most common questions about grooming a long-haired cat.

Can I groom my cat by myself?

Yes, you can groom your cat by yourself. However, we recommend not using clippers because professionals will know how to use them better than you. If your cat has severe fur matting issues, we highly recommend taking it to a professional cat grooming salon.

Do cats need their nails trimmed?

Yes, cats need their nails trimmed from time to time. However, do NOT trim too close to the root of the nail. Instead, trim just the tip of the nail.