One of the most important features of the Maine Coon is the gorgeous, long coat it possesses. It can take several years for this distinctive coat to fully develop, and it’s important to get your cat used to grooming early in life so that you can keep your Maine Coon free of knots and tangles throughout its life. Regular brushing is key to coat care, and it’s important to have grooming implements that are appropriately designed for this special breed.
It’s important to have the right brush when starting out a grooming session with your Maine Coon. A soft-bristled brush with nylon bristles is usually the best choice. Look for a brush with thin teeth and a slight slant. A soft-bristled brush will help to calm your cat and signal to him that grooming time has begun. Being brushed with a soft-bristle brush is also a generally pleasant experience, and you want your initial grooming session to be as happy as possible. The soft nylon bristles are good at removing dead skin cells, dirt, and debris before you begin using other tools to work on hair mats or tangles. Regular brushing with this tool is also helpful in preventing mats in the first place. At the end of any grooming session, use this tool one more time, as it helps to distribute the hair oils across the coat of your cat. This will keep your Maine Coon’s amazing hair shiny, healthy, and smooth.
A fine, flat, wire-bristle brush should be your second choice for grooming time. The wire bristles and the slight angle that most wire slicker brushes come in is excellent for removing loose hair from the topcoat of your Maine Coone. This brush should be stiff, but not so stiff that it tears at your cat’s coat. There are other tools that can be used to remove mats: this tool is primarily for removing excess loose hair from the top layers of fur.
The same brush that will work beautifully for the topcoat will not necessarily work for your cat’s undercoat. A good undercoat brush or rake should have a combination of teeth, some wide and some narrow. When you see it, the undercoat rake should remind you of a leaf rake. Once you have brushed the topcoat free of excess hair, a good undercoat rake will help to thin the undercoat out and keep it from tangling.
This brush is not primarily meant to remove tangles and mats but to remove loose hair from the undercoat layer of your Maine Coon. Be aware that the undercoat brush can irritate the skin and may remove hair from the top layer of fur, as well, so it should be used gently, and perhaps in combination with a de-shedding tool.
For those Maine Coons with more intense grooming needs, a special de-shedding tool can be a fine addition to the grooming utilities. Various styles are available, the most famous being the Furminator. The de-shedding tool has closer teeth than an undercoat rake and is thus more appropriate for cats with long, but not particularly thick, fur. It can also be used in conjunction with the undercoat rake on cats with very dense coats.
The undercoat rake will grab larger mats and thicker hair, while the de-shedding tool is gentler and can get some of the smaller and thinner hairs that the undercoat brush or rake might miss. Another benefit to the de-shedding tool is that the rounded edges are less likely to harm the skin than the sharper points on an undercoat rake. The de-shedding tools also protect the top coat. However, for Maine Coons with very dense coats, a de-shedding tool may not be enough by itself.
You will inevitably encounter mats and tangles in the coat of your cat. Working these out is one of the most difficult parts of cat care, but is essential if you are to keep your cat and his coat in good health. A mat splitter is a tool that breaks large tangles and mats into smaller ones that can then be removed with a comb. Using a mat splitter is a much better way of dealing with mats than simply trying to pull them out. Cutting them out is also not a good idea, both because of the danger that scissors can present to the cat as well as the risk of spoiling the coat.
A mat splitter is essentially a guarded razor blade fitted on the end of the handle. The point of the mat splitter goes through the mat itself, but the part that touches your cat’s skin will not be able to cut it. Unlike scissors, a mat splitter is much less likely to damage sensitive skin and thus convince your cat that grooming time should be avoided at all costs. A mat splitter will also not pull on the cat’s skin.
The comb is the right tool for attacking and dealing with mats and tangles once you have gotten them to a manageable size. There are two types of combs that you might consider for your Maine Coon. A metal comb with teeth that are far apart can be a good choice for keeping the undercoat from matting and should be used after the undercoat rake removes all the loose hair.
A metal comb, gently applied, can also be used to work out mats once they have been separated by the mat splitter. For grooming areas where the hair is short, such as the top of your cat’s head, or for removing fleas, a flea comb with closely packed teeth is usually the best tool.
The last grooming tool to consider is the right kind of shampoo. If your cat is particularly prone to dense mats and tangles, special shampoo, and even conditioner, is available that can make the coat softer, easier to comb, and less prone to tangles. Maine Coons can be easier to bathe than other cat breeds due to their love of water, so for individuals that are particularly difficult to groom with brushes and combs, this can be an excellent option.
The right grooming habits, supported by good grooming products, can make all the difference. Find the right tools for your cat, establish good habits early on in life, and you will be rewarded with a beautiful, mat-free example of this fine cat breed.