(CATS/PET CARE) There’s nothing softer than your cat. Their silky fur and the warm sensation of their bodies snuggling up to you is one of those little things that makes you love your pet even more, and it’s so very soothing to stroke their heads and hear them purr.

But let’s face it, cat fur–especially if you have a long-haired pet–is not always the easiest thing to maintain. They shed, their fur can become matted if you aren’t careful, and they get dirty very quickly if you don’t use the right products.

Since we want our darling animal companions to feel good in their own fur, so to speak, it’s important that we give them the proper care and attention. If you want to know the best way to care for your kitty and make sure their coat is soft and smooth, here are some helpful tips.

Determine the type of coat your cat has

It’s not just about short hair or long hair, it’s about the texture and quality of the coat and whether it has a tendency to tangle. Generally, the thinner and silkier the texture, the easier it will become matted and dirty, thus you might need to comb through it more often.

Another thing to bear in mind is your own cat’s grooming habits. Older animals sometimes lose interest in maintaining their fur, and brachycephalic breeds (cats with “pushed in” faces, such as Persian and Himalayan cats) might have trouble reaching some areas. The same goes for overweight kitties because they tend to be a lot less limber.

Short-haired cats probably won’t need too much help with grooming, and you might be able to get away with brushing them with a comb once a month, but long-haired animals with very fine hair might need daily care.

Regular baths

Similarly to brushing, how often you bathe your cat usually depends on their type of fur. The best way to know whether your kitty needs a wash is if your fingers come out a little sticky or greasy when you pet them, or if there’s a light layer of dirt underneath your fingernails when you give them a scratch.

Of course, cats and water are pretty much mortal enemies, so if you want to bathe your pet and survive without vicious claw marks on your arms, take a look at these tips.

Use a specific brush

Every pet parents needs a good brush to detangle fur and pick up stray hairs when their pet is shedding. Grab a good deshedding tool and make sure to choose the one that works best for your kitty’s specific hair type.

You want something that can actually reach underneath the topcoat and pick up all the stray hairs from the undercoat, but it also needs to be gentle and not end up causing even more tangles. You should also consider getting a mat breaking tool to get rid of knots.

Introduce them to grooming at a young age

As we’ve mentioned before, cats and water rarely go together well, and it’s not much different when you introduce a fur brush. However, all this changes if you introduce them to grooming early on, while they are still kittens.

When they’re at least eight weeks old, you can start bathing them gently with the right shampoo, however you can start grooming even before that by using a damp cloth to wipe them down. Same goes for brushing–introduce them to the brush early on and get them used to the feeling of it.

Give them a nutritious diet

Same as with your own skin, hair, and nails, our animals are also affected by what they eat. If you want your kitty to have a glossy, soft coat then consider introducing natural cat food without additives to their diet. They need a lot of protein and healthy fats, so always use premium brands to feed them and make sure they’re getting all of their required minerals and nutrients.

What about hairballs?

While an occasional hairball isn’t something you need to worry about, a cat who keeps coughing them up could be a reason for concern. Vomiting frequently means you really should take them to the vet, especially if they’re older and might be having trouble digesting the buildup of hair in their belly.

Do I need a professional groomer?

It’s mostly up to you. Most animals find the visit to the groomer’s stressful, but in case your cat’s fur is all matted and tangled, it might be a good idea to let them see a professional. We recommend that you do your research and find someone who’s trustworthy. It’s also not a bad idea to call an in-house groomer who will come to your door and help your kitty feel more comfortable.

More snuggles!

Snuggling up to your cat has more than just emotional benefits – it can actually help you determine whether your pet is suffering from any hair or skin conditions. Do you feel any bumps or dry spots underneath your fingertips? Does the hair feel very frail? If you find something, take them to the vet because they might have an infection.

Give your cat some love – they are just like humans and they tend to feel a lot better when they know they are cared for. Otherwise simply help them maintain their hygiene, feed them well, and use a good brush to comb through their fur.

— Zara Lewis, exclusive to Global Animal

Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife.com magazine and a full-time animal lover. Originally from Chicago, she found her place in the sun in Perth, Australia. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members.