Updated - Sep 25th, 2021
Cats are natural self-groomers, yet you can still find cat hair everywhere in your house. Why? Cats may spend between 15-50% of their day grooming themselves, but they still need help to eliminate all the loose hairs, dirt, dander, and matting.
Regular grooming provides many benefits for both you and your feline companion. However, finding the right brush or grooming tool can be overwhelming, especially if your cat has sensitive skin or isn’t used to being groomed. But fear not: we’ve broken down the plethora of information you need to know about grooming your cat and which brushes work best. We’ve also included the Amazon links so you can purchase the perfect brush for your kitty.
As with anything else, choosing the best cat brush starts with asking why you want one. What benefits will you and your cat enjoy from consistent grooming?
Here are a few reasons grooming your cat is important.
Why grooming your cat is important
Hairballs: There’s nothing worse than finding a wet, gross hairball on your carpet or favorite chair. Grooming your cat removes the loose and dead hair from the coat, reducing the amount they ingest when self-cleaning. This can reduce the number of surprise hairballs in your home.
Less fur around the house: Regular grooming sessions, along with your cat’s own self-grooming, can reduce or eliminate the fur you find on your clothes and furniture. This can make breathing easier for those with allergies and reduce the frequency of “fur as a condiment” situations because less fur is floating around in the air.
Prevents matting: During periods of high sheddings like spring and fall, there’s nothing worse than petting your purring kitty and finding big clumps of matted fur. Regular grooming keeps the natural oils from your cat’s skin distributed throughout the coat, making matting less likely. Regularly running brushes and combs through their fur can keep those ugly mats from forming.
Improves skin and coat health: That shiny coat is no accident. Cats have natural oils that must be present in the coat to keep it lustrous. Regular brushing massages the skin, releasing those beneficial oils and distributing them throughout the layers of fur.
Aids in relaxation: When cats self-groom, it relieves their stress and helps them relax. When you brush your cat with gentle strokes, it can feel like a relaxing massage, helping a stressed cat relax.
Proactive Health Check: Grooming time is perfect for running your hands over your cat’s body to check for any new bumps, lumps, or injuries. This body check helps your cat transition from their previous activity and enjoy their time interacting with you. This will also give you an idea of trouble spots to avoid during the brushing session.
Benefits are great, but you also need to know what you’re working with when picking out the best brush for a grooming job. Not all cat hair is the same.
Let’s take a look at the various types of cat hair:
What kind of fur does your cat have?
Long-haired cats have different fur than short or medium-haired cats, requiring different tools. The length of your cat’s hair determines the grooming process you’ll need to incorporate into your routine.
Cat hair has three layers – the guard hair, the awn fur, and the down fur. All serve vital purposes, helping to both protect the skin and the temperature of your cat. Let’s look at them.
The Guard hair is the topcoat or outermost layer of your cat’s coat. It protects the inner layers from inclement weather and the cold. Guard hair is the longest of the three layers, but also the shiny hair we admire for its beauty. The color of your cat’s guard hair determines the color of the coat.
The Down fur is your cat’s insulation, protecting them from inclement weather and heat loss. This is the silky soft layer of fur next to the skin. If you clean up a lot of fluff around the house from your cat, this is the layer of fur you’re collecting. When your cat is cold, this layer will stand up, allowing air to get next to the skin, keeping your cat warm. During the spring, cats will shed this layer to prepare for the summer heat.
The Awn fur is the layer between the Guard hair and the down fur. It’s longer and thinner than the down layer and shorter than the guard hairs. The awn fur has dark tips and combines with the color of your cat’s guard hairs to create the beautiful colors of your cat’s coat.
Long-haired and medium-haired cats will have all three layers and thick down fur. Short-haired cats require grooming less frequently because their down coat is very thin.
Now that you understand the layers of cat fur, let’s check out different brushes and their purposes.
Cat grooming tools
There are many types of grooming tools, all serving different purposes. Knowing what kind of fur your cat has helps you pick out the perfect brush. Keep in mind that not all cats appreciate being groomed. Some may have sensitive skin, and some may just not appreciate that much physical attention. But most love it and will welcome a consistent grooming session if you use the right tools for your cat’s preferences.
The slicker brush is best known for its effectiveness with all coat types. These brushes have fine wire teeth positioned at different angles. They’re quite efficient at removing loose hair, dander, and dirt from a cat’s coat. But not all cats can tolerate them.
This type of brush works especially well for long and medium-haired cat – and, if used regularly, can eliminate mats. Short-haired cats may not find this type of brush pleasant because the fine teeth can be abrasive on their skin. You may also find the bristles are delicate and can become damaged, making the brush more uncomfortable for your cat’s skin.
De-matting brushes are for long- and medium-haired cats with thick undercoats. They work well to detangle fur and tease out mats. De-matting brushes have sharp blades with rounded tips, scooping under the mat and gently cutting it out without damaging the skin. They easily reach through all fur layers, making them effective for excessive shedders. The only drawback to this type of brush is it can remove too much loose fur and can be uncomfortable for sensitive cats. It’s also wise to ensure you are cutting the mats and not pulling them out to remove them.
Grooming Gloves and Mitts are ideal for short-haired cats and those with sensitive skin. They are gloves with small rubber nubs and bristles that gently massage and draw out loose hairs. Since it’s a glove, it simulates a more natural stimulus (petting), making them preferable for cats who don’t like brushes but enjoy being petted.
Even though these are easy to use, a good hand fit can be difficult, and they don’t reach all fur layers. They also don’t remove mats.
Rubber brushes are ideal for sensitive cats. They have wide rubber teeth and move through the fur, detangling and removing loose fur. Rubber brushes are the gentler choice. The massage action you get with this type of brush helps distribute your cat’s natural oils while improving circulation in your cat’s skin.
Rubber brushes are excellent for all fur types and control the flyaway hairs that may fill your home. However, they don’t remove mats, nor do they rid the coat of all loose hairs.
Bristle Brushes work well for short-haired cats or for smoothing the outer coat of long- to medium-haired cats. These brushes are used on show cats to bring out the beautiful shine of their coats.
Bristle brushes can remove the loose and flyaway hairs, but won’t be much help if there’s matting, tangles, or thick down fur to remove. However, if your cat is not happy being brushed or is sensitive to brush types, this can be a good starter brush.
Pin brushes are like slicker brushes, but they have more widely spaced pins with rubber or plastic balls on the ends. These create a gentler brushing action, making them ideal for sensitive cats. They easily reach through all layers of fur, distributing natural oils, removing dirt, debris, loose and dead hairs, and detangling and reducing the frequency of mats.
Combs: A grooming comb is useful for detangling and gently teasing out mats, but many cats find them abrasive and they can pull the hair, making a nightmare of grooming sessions. They serve their purpose of keeping the hair free from flyaway or loose hairs and can pull up loose down fur, but combs are not as effective as other grooming tools designed for that purpose.
Corner self-grooming brushes are helpful if your cat can’t tolerate brushing. Most cats enjoy the toy aspect of these groomers. The brushes mount on the wall or laid flat on the floor for the cat to rub against. It’s helpful for removing loose hair but doesn’t do the job for mats, tangles, or getting down into the layers and loosening dirt and debris. While this type of grooming tool is not as effective as more traditional tools, it helps if you don’t have the time or inclination to groom your cat regularly.
So there’s the skinny on cat brushes and their uses. Now let’s look at the top cat grooming tools available for your sweet feline friend. We’ve chosen brushes we consider to be the best grooming tools for each category. These will get the job done and provide benefits for both you and your cat.
Best slicker brushes
This versatile slicker-style brush is made for all hair types. It gently removes loose and dead hair, dirt, and dander, and easily reaches down into all layers of your cat’s coat to massage the skin and evenly distribute natural oils, giving your cat’s coat a healthy shine. The bristles are fine bent wires designed to get the grooming job done without irritating skin.
Its self-cleaning design makes it easy to remove the hair by simply pressing the button to retract the bristles, allowing you to remove hair from the brush. Its smooth, easy-grip handle is ergonomic in design to eliminate hand and wrist strain while you groom your cat.
This is another self-cleaning slicker, but this one has rounded ends, making the pins less likely to irritate your cat’s skin.
The handle is wide to reduce wrist and hand strain, with an easy-grip handle.
The bristles reach all hair layers to reduce loose and dead hair while providing the massaging action necessary to stimulate skin circulation and evenly distribute the natural oils, giving your cat’s fur the shine it deserves.
Best De-Matting Brushes
This professional-quality de-matting tool offers multiple uses to clear all mats and tangles quickly.
It’s double-sided, with a different number of teeth per side to perform different grooming tasks.
The lower-density side is for de-matting stubborn or large mats. The higher-density side will detangle and remove dead and loose hairs through all fur layers to thin and control shedding.
Its stainless steel teeth are sharp enough to cut through mats and tangles, with rounded ends that protect your cat’s sensitive skin. Its non-slip silicone gel-filled handle takes the strain out of your hands and wrists during grooming sessions.
FURminator is a well-known name in the grooming industry. How can you go wrong with a FURminator tool?
Their de-matting tool is made from durable, scratch-resistant stainless steel. It has curved edges to ensure the safe and efficient removal of mats and tangles. Its fur-extender button adjusts the edges to work on all coat types and lengths. Plus, the tool is narrow, preventing you from removing large sections of hair at once, increasing your cat’s comfort!
The ergonomic, non-slip handle gives you maximum control and comfort for your hands and wrists.
De-Shedding Brushes for Cats
This de-shedding tool is said to reduce up to 95% of dead hair and tangles from your cat quickly and easily. Made with 100mm stainless steel blades with a sturdy, easy-grip handle, it reaches through all layers of your cat’s fur to reduce the incidence of hair and allergies in your home.
This one comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. It’s similar to the FURminator but more wallet-friendly.
The FURminator is the most widely recognized de-shedding tool on the market, and for good reason. A very durable, comfortable de-shedding tool for your hands and wrist, this thing will remove most of the loose hair effortlessly.
It sports stainless steel blades that glide easily through your cat’s outer coat to remove the innermost layer of loose hair. If used correctly (a soft touch) you will have fewer hairballs, and fur will not be a condiment in your home!
Its handle is wide and comfortable for your hand, making grooming a pleasant experience for both you and your cat.
Best Rubber Brushes for Cats
This silicone brush is made with premium materials and is ultra-soft for even the most sensitive of cats. Many rubber or silicone brushes can be hard, thus causing discomfort for cats who don’t like brushing, but the soft materials in this one are durable, easy to clean, and will offer more of a massage than many brushes do.
Said to remove up to 90% of loose and dead hair, the long bristles will work through all hair layers to leave your cat happy and your house less furry!
What’s appealing about this brush is the handle. It makes the brush easy to hold, with less slippage during use. Once the grooming is complete, just rinse the brush under the tap and you’re good to go for the next session.
If you look beyond the adorable kitty shape, you’ll see an efficient grooming tool that removes loose and dead hair like a magnet. Its soft, rubbery bristles will groom and massage your cat – and improve circulation in their skin, too!
The easy-grip design makes it easy on your hands. This lightweight rubberized brush is sure to please even the most sensitive of kitties while helping to prevent hairball formation in their tummies.
Best Grooming Mitts and Gloves
These are ranked #1 in grooming mitts. Coming with bristle tips on the fingers and round tips on the palm, this is a versatile tool for de-shedding, bathing, or massaging your kitty. They are the gentle version of grooming, simulating a natural petting action for the grooming process.
The non-abrasive, flexible rubber nodules are long enough to reach all fur layers without hurting your cat’s sensitive skin. And your fingers and hands stay clean of hair and oils as you gently massage your feline friend.
These grooming gloves are acceptable for all hair types, making grooming an enjoyable experience for you and your cat. (Plus, they’re easy to clean, too!)
The Gentle Pet Grooming Glove has been around for a while, but this new and improved version sports 255 longer and softer silicone tips to collect more hair.
The glove is an enhanced 5-finger design, allowing you to gently remove hair from all hair types, and from the sensitive hard-to-reach places like legs and face comfortably.
This grooming mitt is easy to clean due to the special layer added on top of the silicone, allowing the hair to easily peel off from the glove. They’re also machine washable and made with premium mesh material with an adjustable wrist strap, making it fit most people while keeping your hands from becoming sweaty.
Best Pin Brushes
This pin brush removes loose hair and eliminates tangles and mats when used regularly. Ideal for cats of all hair lengths, they manufacture gentle plastic bristles with rounded ends that won’t scratch your cat’s sensitive skin.
These brushes groom and massage your cat for a healthy coat, increasing blood circulation to improve skin quality. Your cat’s coat will be shiny and soft because it also evenly distributes the natural oils needed for lustrous coats.
The handle is comfortable, strong, and durable, with a specially designed comfort grip and an anti-slip handle that prevents hand and wrist strain.
It’s a pin brush, wait, no, it’s a bristle brush too! If your cat is not so sure about being brushed, this combo brush may be the ticket to success.
Use the bristle brush to get your cat accustomed to being brushed, and the pin side to remove tangles and go deeper into the fur later on.
Suitable for everyday de-shedding and removing tangles, the pin side is made with stainless steel tips with a protective coating, while the other side is made with nylon bristles that disburse the natural oils and make your kitty’s fur shine.
The handle has an ergonomic design for your comfort, making this choice good for both you and your cat.
Best Bristle Brush
The soft bristles of this brush will get your cat’s coat gleaming. Made with a rubber cushion for brushing comfort, this handle has black boar bristles that evenly distribute oils throughout your cat’s coat.
Engineered in Germany, this brush comes with a beechwood handle that’s beautifully lacquered for durability and is comfortable for your hands and wrists.
Best Cat Combs
This 2-in-1 shell comb can remove loose and dead hair by combing through all fur layers and massage your cat’s skin in the gentlest way possible.
Its elastic, ergonomic design doesn’t scratch the skin and works on long-, medium-, and short-haired types.
If brushes are not for your cat, maybe this will do the trick.
Best Corner Brush
This interactive cat toy will groom your cat too! This self-grooming wall brush allows your cat to rub against it with either a wall mount or a flat wall mount (hardware included).
The bristles are soft and will reach all layers of fur where your cat rubs. However, it won’t take the place of a brush for complete grooming, nor will it evenly distribute the necessary oils needed to get your cat’s coat gleaming. But it gets your cat used to a brush texture, forging the path to regular brushing.
These are the best brushes on the internet that are wallet-friendly and solve the most grooming problems. But how can you set your cat up for a successful home grooming routine? Try these tips!
Setting your cat up for grooming success
Check your cat’s mood. Your cat’s mood will be a big factor in selecting a good grooming time. You wouldn’t want to sit still when you feel feisty and energetic, and neither would your cat. Look for calm, lazy times, when your cat is content and accepts human interaction. (This probably won’t be during eating or playing time.)
Set the stage. If your cat is calm and serene, start a petting session to set the mood. Once your cat is purring and accepting love, it’s a good time to get your cat ready for physical contact.
Check the body. A petting session is a great time to run your hands over your cat’s body and look for bumps, skin abrasions, or abnormalities. You’ll also find out which spots your cat prefers you avoid during a grooming session. Take note and avoid those places!
Start brushing. Going with the direction of the hair, start gently brushing. Stay away from areas your cat indicated were a no area and go as slowly and gently as you need to.
If you find mats or tangles, going easily and gently is the key to removing them. If you pull too hard or go too fast, your cat will quickly end the grooming process and most likely avoid it in the future. Progress – not perfection – is the name of the grooming game.
When you’re done, or your cat is letting you know they’re done, end the session with a tasty treat or a favorite toy. Ending on a pleasant note will leave a good impression on your cat for next time.
And finally, be patient with your cat – grooming by someone other than themselves is a new adventure for them! Consistent grooming, whether you have long-haired cats or not, means no more gooey hairballs to surprise you when you least expect them. (You can start wearing black again!)