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Best Ways to Groom Long-Haired Cats and Remove Tangles

I have rescued and fostered many pets over the years. Keeping my pets healthy and happy is my number one priority.

How Do You Groom a Long-Haired Cat?

Cats are often easier to maintain from a grooming perspective than dogs. They are clean and will generally tidy themselves up if they are dirty or smelly.

But, if your cat has long fur that tends to be a bit drier, then they may need some help from their owners to maintain their beautiful appearance. If your cat tends to develop unbrushable tangles, especially around its hindquarters, there are some things that you can do to help reduce this problem.

Here are the things you'll need to get started:


  • Cat Grooming Brush
  • Moisturizing Cat Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Pet Wipes
  • Scissors

You also need to consider the litter your cat uses and its outdoor habits. With a little bit of extra care, your long-haired cat will look and smell great.

Cat Grooming Brush

Long-haired cats who have drier fur need to be brushed daily. This not only removes the start of any tangles, it also stimulates the oils in the cat's skin, making their fur shinier, less dry, and less prone to tangles.

In today's world, we all have busy schedules that take a lot of time. So the idea of needing to brush your cat daily may seem to be a daunting prospect. Consider however that a little bit of time each day may save you and your cat some uncomfortable moments later on when you are trying to remove tangles.

Make Grooming a Pleasant Experience for All

Think about your day and the time you might take to unwind, in the evenings, for example, when you are watching TV. This would be the perfect time to brush your cat.

Make it a pleasant experience, talking quietly to the cat and possibly offering treats to make them happy and more willing to be brushed. Some cats loved to be brushed and some merely tolerate it. The more you brush your cat though, the more they will tolerate it.

Make sure not to bear too hard—keep your touch light. If you run into a tangle, brush it very gently and see if you can slowly work it out without pulling too hard and upsetting your cat.

Moisturizing Cat Shampoo and Conditioner

Even though cats don't like it, sometimes the long-haired breeds need to be washed. You will want to look for a moisturizing shampoo that is specially formulated for cats. Note: Some ingredients in human shampoo can be toxic to cats.

It is also really important that you condition the cat. Pay special attention to the places that tend to get the extreme and unbrushable tangles such as in the hindquarters. Work the conditioner into the fur and leave on for the instructed time.

Finally, if your cat has extremely tangled fur or areas that are matted, you will want to consider using a leave-in conditioner. Leave-in conditioners work just like they do for humans, providing extra oils for shine and making it easy to comb.

Use the leave-in conditioner after your cat is dry. You can use this in-between baths and sometimes use it in place of baths if your cat has no other grooming issues besides the occasional tangle.

Pet Wipes

Sometimes the tangles can be caused by your cat getting dirty. If you have a long-haired cat that goes outside, they will naturally attract dirt and debris to its fur.

Some cats also have long fur on their hindquarters that gives them issues when they go to the litterbox. The waste may get stuck in the fur. Even liquid waste on the fur may cause tangles.

One way to combat this when you don't have time to do a full bath is to use pet wipes on the problem areas. Pet wipes in combination with brushing can help to eliminate the tangles before they get to be too much and can't be untangled.

Use the pet wipe the way you would any other wipe as you might use for a baby. Clean the dirty or tangled area thoroughly. Regular cleaning of the cat's hindquarters may eliminate issues caused by litterbox residue.

Even the litter you use can get tangled in the cat's fur. Clay clumping litter is great, but it may be adding to the problem of your cat's tangles. Consider looking for a different kind of litter, such as the natural pine, if you suspect that this may be the issue.

Scissors may be the only option for some tangles on your cat.

Scissors may be the only option for some tangles on your cat.


If your cat is already tangled and the tangles are not brushable, you may need to take scissors and cut the pieces of tangled fur out. While this may be a good temporary solution and give you a clean palate to start with, it is not likely a good long term solution. Unlike dogs, most people do not want to shave or regularly cut their cat's hair (unless your cat is a show cat).

Keeping a pair of scissors handy is a good idea for when there is no other way to remove the tangles. If it does not look too bad, you can trim all the problem areas of fur. But this may affect your cat's appearance and keeping a cat still with sharp scissors can be hard.

If you use the above methods your cat will have fewer tangles and shinier and healthier looking fur and won't need to do too much cutting.

Other Considerations

If your cat is going outdoors, you might want to consider making it an indoor-only cat. Not only will their fur be less tangled but they will also be less likely to encounter a host of other problems including diseases, dangerous animals and dangerous humans.

Another longer-term solution is to look for higher quality food for your cat. If your cat has drier fur they likely also have dry skin. Using premium and high-quality foods may help to eliminate tangles caused by dry fur. Higher quality foods have a better balance of fats and oils that your cat needs to moisturize their coat and skin.

Some cats have more problems with tangles than others.  This long-haired cat needs some grooming.

Some cats have more problems with tangles than others. This long-haired cat needs some grooming.

Take Aways

Cats whose fur tends to tangle can benefit from brushing, moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, leave-in conditioners and pet wipes. Use scissors to cut out the tangles and start fresh with your cat's fur care.

Also consider keeping them indoors, changing their litter and changing their food.

If their fur is super tangled, consider taking them to the vet's or a professional groomer to have them shave the cat and give you a fresh start. As the fur grows back in you can use the above methods to keep it looking good.

Long-haired cats are beautiful pets and can provide many years of love and comfort. With just a little bit of extra care, your long-haired cat will look purr-fect.

A Groomer Helps Remove Matted Fur From a Himalayan

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Cece on August 24, 2020:

What kind of shappoo and condioner can i us on my cats

moonlake from America on December 03, 2013:

He does love being groomed and always seems to feel so much better. He does have have an undercoat. He is a beautiful cat and it's sad we have to cut off all his hair.

L C David (author) from Florida on December 03, 2013:

You make a great point that not all long-haired cats are the same. You can have two long-haired of different breeds and one will have relatively few problems and one will tangle if you just look at them the wrong way. I understand from my vet that the cats that do tend to tangle also often have a tangled undercoat which can be potentially painful. So in that case getting them groomed and shaved does sound like the best option. I bet your cat just loves getting groomed (sarcasm).

moonlake from America on December 02, 2013:

We have a long haired white cat that has always stayed pretty nice but we also comb him everyday and cut out any knots. We have a black long hair cat that no amount of combing helps him. He tangles all over and what a mess so he goes in for grooming and gets shaved. He's a very oily cat. Our short hair cat will also matt but we keep him combed and it works pretty good. He sheds the most out of the three. Great hub with lots of good information. Voted up.

L C David (author) from Florida on December 02, 2013:

Yes that can be hard to get out. The best advice is to keep on top of it and clean it out as soon as she comes in. Thanks for stopping by!

Imogen French from Southwest England on December 02, 2013:

Useful tips, thanks - my long haired tabby gets tangled underneath, especially around her armpits, and often gets leaves, twigs and burrs tangled up in her fur - not easy to deal with!