Frequent Brushing Benefits Skin & Emotional Well-Being
I have two cats, Snowball and Alfie who were rescued as newborns from a box in a feed store 8 years ago. Although they are brushed each day they both leave lots of cat hair everywhere. Their coats are healthy and shiny and they seem to be in good overall health, but the hair loss is constant even in winter. They get Science Diet or Iams dry and wet food.
I’ve been in practice a long time and I’ve seen a lot. Cats leaving cat hair? I’m OK with that. I would be worried it they shed scales or feathers.
Cats who are groomed often, especially those with medium to long coats, normally shed year ‘round. As you brush Snowball and Alfie you are removing dead hair and skin flakes. They feel better because your gentle handling triggers the release of endorphins, a “feel good” hormone in the brain. You are also stimulating their scalps. And, by preventing their hair from matting you are helping them stay more comfortable in the warm weather. The down side of frequently brushing indoor cats is finding cat hair.
Free-living kitties manage their hair coats by rolling around on hard-packed dirt. So unless your family lives off-the-grid in a remote cabin with an earthen floor, Snowball’s and Alfie’s health is well-served by your daily grooming.
The other important reason for frequent brushing is that you are preventing your cats from swallowing all that dead hair when they groom themselves. This will reduce vomiting of hair balls, a spontaneous event that’s prone to occur at the most inopportune moments. I am in touch with my feline side, so I understand the acute embarrassment of this social faux pas.
To rule-out skin problems watch for flaking, bald patches, redness, or frequent scratching. Science Diet and Iams are good quality foods. To protect Snowball and Alfie against obesity, joint disease, and diabetes I recommend giving them canned kitten food only. The higher protein is better for healthy cats of all ages.
Snowball and Alfie will be even happier this summer and leave less hair around the house if they get a new ‘do. A lion cut is quite stylish. Many veterinary clinics have staff members who can do a good job.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.