While it is a lot of fun to have a cat as your pet, pet owners, especially cat owners, would know how much work goes into taking care of them. Care is not limited to feeding them well and getting some exercise, but also paying good attention to their external appearance.
So, a cat’s fur becomes one of the things that should be carefully tended to. It is impossible to escape a cat without being completely covered in its fur. It is almost like a part of their identity!
Let us learn more about what cat fur is all about and how you can improve your cat’s fur and take good care of it.
Cat Hair vs. Cat Fur
First, let us clear up the confusion about the interchangeable use of ‘hair’ and ‘fur.’ These two might sound a lot different from each other, given the fact how contrastingly we use it in terms of fabric. But in the context of animals, specifically mammals, it is the same thing.
Humans are one of the few mammals with a lot less body hair. We are barely covered with hair on our limbs and the larger parts of our bodies. But, like other mammals, most are covered in thick tufts of hair. So, fur is a collection of hair.
With some cats that are hairless or sparsely covered in hair like the sphynx breed, their coat can be referred to as hair, while other thickly covered cats’ coats would be called fur or hair.
Structure of Cat’s Fur Coat
Like in most mammals, the hair on a cat’s body exists to cover and protect its skin. Skin is supposed to stay moisturized and less exposed to the environment, especially the sun. This biggest organ, while strong, is in many ways sensitive to internal and external conditions; therefore, a lot of care needs to go into maintaining its good condition.
Cats, as kittens, are mostly born with hair or fur, although not as much as adult cats. They grow from the hair follicles present in the inner layer of the skin called the dermis. The hair grows from a single hair follicle. This is where the different kinds of cat hair or fur grow.
A cat has 3 different kinds of hair or fur: guard hair, secondary hair, and awn hair. Each follicle consists of one guard hair and fifteen secondary hairs. So, for your convenience, below, we have enlisted the different types of cat hair or fur and their characteristics.
Guard hair is the one that protects the skin of the cat. They are slightly coarse, thick, and long and found in the cat’s outer coat. Also, these furs determine the color of the cat!
The secondary hair or fur is found in the cat’s undercoat, which is soft, short, and curly.
The awn hair on the cat’s coat is for insulation. This fur type is of a medium length and a part of the intermediate coat.
Besides all this, cats also have whiskers made up of different elements. They are relatively thicker than the skin coat and attached to the cat’s senses. So, they are sensitive to touch.
In a cat breed like sphynx, which barely has any hair on its body, the tiny, soft hairs are called Vellus.
Do you remember cats in cartoons like Tom & Jerry and how their fur would rise when they got scared? That happens with real cats too! It is because of the arrector pili muscle attached to the hair follicles. When cats get startled, these muscles contract, and the fur rise.
Taking Care of your Cat’s Fur
As mentioned before, taking care of your cat’s coat is essential. It is not only for basic hygiene but also for the general appearance maintenance of your cat too! Following are the things you should pay attention to for having a healthy coat of hair for your cat:
1. Bathing regularly
Your cat might not like, or even hate, getting into the water. But you must look past the disapproval (and some scratches!) and get your cat in a tub. Like us humans, your cat’s hair is exposed to dust, body oil, pollution, and other things that create waste build-up in the hair. It is bound to make it uncomfortable for them in many ways, like making them itchy, crusty, and smelly.
A soak every once in a while would be good not only for the cat but also for you! Be careful in bathing the cat, as pets, especially cats, are like infants. A smaller, shallower tub for the cat should be a good option!
2. Brushing the furry coat
Just like brushing is vital for us humans, it is also crucial for cats! It helps in detangling their coat and makes it look more proper. It also removes all the dirt or dry and dead skin flakes from in between the hair. It is essential for breeds with a thicker coat of fur.
More often than not, cats can take care of this particular step independently. But if you have an older cat (or a kitty that likes to be taken care of!), you can brush their hair a couple of times a week for healthier growth. Brushing also helps with blood circulation, making your cat feel great.
3. Giving a healthy diet
What goes in your cat’s internal systems also affects the cat’s external appearance. If you maintain a well-balanced and healthy diet, you will notice that your cat’s fur will stay not only healthy but also shiny and free of any hair or skin-related problems.
Adding supplements like fish oil might be of help here. Nutramax Welactin Omega-3 Fish Oil is a good option for your cat’s diet!
Besides all their brooding, cats are relatively disciplined pets that like to stay clean and look nice! So, taking care of their fur would not be a big hassle. You can even make a fun bonding experience out of your grooming days.