Long-haired cat breeds and how to care for them
Long-haired cat breeds can look stunning, but you need to be prepared to put a bit of time into keeping them that way! We show you how
Cats come in all shapes and sizes and the length of their hair can vary too. There are many long-haired cat breeds – in fact, the American Cat Association lists 57!
Cats are normally very good at self-grooming and fastidious about cleanliness. Long-haired breeds will still require a regular helping paw from their human companions, though, to keep them looking smart.
Regular grooming is important for health reasons and to help create a bond. If you’ve lost your heart to these fluffy felines, we can understand why! Here are some of the most common long-haired cat breeds.
Common long-haired cat breeds
Purebred Maine Coons only come in a long-haired variety, although you may find mixed breed Maines with shorter hair. They’re one of the largest cat breeds in the world, weighing up to 18 pounds, and those fluffy coats make them look even bigger. They tend to have gentle, sociable personalities and finely-honed hunting skills.
Norwegian Forest Cat
As you may expect from a breed native to Scandinavian, the ‘Wegie’ has a very thick, warm coat. In fact, they have double coats – a inner one of short, dense hair and an outer one of long, silky hair. They may need a little extra grooming during periods of excess shedding.
Believed to be the oldest longhair breed in Europe, the Angora is a friendly, sweet-natured girl with a huge fluffy tail. This breed have a tendency to have heterochromia, a harmless genetic mutation which results in different colored eyes.
American Longhair Curl
American Curls have an unusual characteristic: their ears curl back from their faces, giving them a very appealing, innocent look. This breed can be traced back to a single stray called Shulamith in Lakeland, California, and tends not to suffer from the genetic problems that can affect other pure breeds.
Probably the best known of all long-haired cat breeds thanks to a starring role as Blofeld’s sidekick in the Bond movies, Persians are laidback and friendly. Their beautiful coats can grow up to eight inches long!
Named for their tendency to go limp and floppy when picked up, the Ragdoll has medium to long hair. Unlike some other breeds they love to be handled and are very sweet natured.
Domestic Long Hair
Domestic long-haired cats are less of a breed and more of a type. They’re named for their hairstyle rather than their ancestry and may be a mix of several breeds.
They’re very popular – in fact, they’re the second most popular breed in the US after the domestic short hair. That mixed breeding helps to keep them healthy, as they’re not prone to some of the genetic problems of purebreds.
These stunning-looking cats come in several variations of color but always have four white mittens and blue eyes. Their ancestry is unknown, but they’re believed to be related to both Burmese and Siamese.
As the name suggests, Bobtails have short tails and long hair. They’re popularly regarded as the result of a cross between a wild bobcat and a domestic cat, but it’s more likely that their short tail is the result of a gene similar to that of the Manx.
How to groom longhaired cat breeds
Regular (by which we mean once or twice a week) grooming can help to improve skin condition, remove and prevent matting and remove loose hair that could otherwise be swallowed and cause a hairball. It’s also a great opportunity to spend some time with your pet.
The first thing to do is invest in a grooming brush – sneak a look at our guide to the best cat brushes for inspiration. Take care to choose a cat brush that’s especially designed for grooming longer hair – you may need to add several different types to your armory for different purposes.
If your cat isn’t used to being groomed, she may get a bit wriggly! Start with gentle scratches under her chin before trying with the brush and work up the amount of grooming time slowly. Make long, gentle strokes from her head to her tail along the lie of the coat, taking particular care around her head.
How to deal with tangled fur on long haired cats
Although regular brushing and self-grooming will keep most matting at bay, there are always exceptions. Cats who are elderly, infirm or overweight may struggle to groom themselves and their coat may get matted. This is particularly common on hard-to-reach areas.
These mats do need to be removed as they can be uncomfortable for your cat, but you need to approach it with care! Pulling at tangled fur will only hurt. If you can, gently unravel small tangles with your fingers, being careful not to pull. Larger areas may need to be cut or clipped out. Extension matting really needs a trip to the veterinarian.
Should I clip or bathe my long haired cat?
As desert creatures, cats don’t tend to enjoy getting wet and won’t thank you for trying to bathe them! Most cats will never need to be bathed, but there can be exceptions – for example, if your pampered puss has stepped in something unpleasant or harmful. Ask your veterinarian’s advice on a suitable cat shampoo and technique or consider a professional groomer.
Cats normally love the heat and shouldn’t need to be clipped for purposes of temperature control in the summer. You might only want to consider a feline haircut to remove matted coat.
Long-haired cat breeds do need a little extra attention compared to their short haired cousins, and it’s important to research all the care aspects before committing.
Our vet's guide to brushing long-haired cats has more information about what’s involved. With a little effort, though, your long-haired cat will be able to let her natural beauty and elegance shine though.
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Sara is a freelance journalist and copywriter of many years’ experience with a lifelong love of animals. She’s written for a range of magazines and websites on subjects varying from pet care to travel. A horse rider since the age of five, she’s currently a full time pet slave to horse Blue and gorgeous, goofy English Springer Spaniel Olly. Adorable Olly has a huge sense of adventure and no sense of direction, keeping Sara on her toes.