Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brushing long-haired cats: An endless battle

Lucy has incredibly long hair
Lucy looking incredibly untidy.
If you look at this picture of Lucy cuddled in her favorite spot, you might think that I am a careless cat caretaker. Her ear hair is curling down into her face and her beard is tangled (it also looks like it's been dipped in water a few times).

She's a step away from looking like a matted mess, and I'm here to tell you that it is totally not my fault.

For starters, Lucy is blind and she uses her wild ear hair for navigation. That ear hair lets her know when she's about to whack the top of her head on something. Normally, I would keep ear hair trimmed, so it doesn't become a nesting ground for fleas and dirt and moisture. But I can't bear to cut off something Lucy is actually using.

As for the beard, she often dips it in water or her food or something she's exploring. She is a bit of a tomboy, so she likes to get into everything and shove her face down close to smell everything before she decides it's safe. This may be due to her blindness, of course, or it may be just her.

And finally, she simply HATES to be brushed. Many cats do. They find the experience to be incredibly stimulating and they go into a bit of sensory overload when you brush them. Lucy seems to like it at first, and then begins to growl and hiss when she's had enough. I am usually not close to being done when she decides our brushing sessions are over.

I know I am not alone in this. Many people who have long-haired cats report that their cats hate to be brushed. Don't believe me? Watch this video of a cat named Janelle totally losing her temper with her owner during a grooming session. Lucy wouldn't dare get this bad, but then again, I wouldn't push her this hard, either.