Conditioning Cat Hair

Conditioning your long-haired cat's fur can help prevent it from matting.
Conditioning your long-haired cat's fur can help prevent it from matting. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Our feline friends sometimes suffer from dandruff and dull, dry coats, the result of any of a variety of conditions. Once your vet has ruled out a medical cause, apply a feline-specific conditioner to moisturize both her hair and her skin. Regular grooming and conditioning not only keeps your kitty's coat shiny, healthy and soft, but it can also reduce shedding, mats and hairballs.

Grooming With Conditioner

While cats generally keep their fur clean by themselves, sometimes a bath is necessary to remove excess dirt or fleas. Regularly bathing your kitty, though, can dry out her skin and coat by stripping away natural oils. Replace these oils by applying a moisturizing conditioner designed specifically for felines after shampooing, recommends Allow the conditioner to sit on the fur for a few minutes, massaging it throughout the skin and coat before rinsing it out thoroughly. Conditioners contain ingredients like aloe vera, vegetable oils, emollients and vitamins like panthenol to moisturize your kitty's hair, making it shiny and easy to brush when dry.

Other Conditioning Options

When your cat won't tolerate bathing and conditioning, you have options, including conditioning bath wipes and leave-in conditioners. Premoistened conditioning bath wipes remove dirt and debris while depositing oils and emollients onto the fur when you wipe them over your cat's body. Leave-in conditioners are not meant to be rinsed out of your kitty's fur; you apply them onto dry fur with your hands, rubbing them into the hair and skin. When choosing a conditioner for Fluffy, use only products designed for cats; these are safe for your kitty to lick off when she grooms herself.

Conditioning From the Inside

You don't necessarily have to apply a conditioner to your cat's fur to help moisturize it if Fluffy's eating a well-balanced, nutritious cat food. Foods containing ingredients like fish and vegetable oils naturally contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Check your cat's food for such ingredients, including salmon oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseed and animal fats, all of which help to keep cats' skin and coats healthy and silky. Fats and fatty acids help to moisturize fur when they're part of cats' diets over a period of a month or more, according to petMD. Consult your vet about giving your cat supplements containing omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids if you feel her coat or skin appears dull or dry.


Simply brushing your cat's fur daily or weekly can help to stimulate her blood circulation and distribute her skin's natural oils throughout the fur to naturally condition it, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends. Applying a leave-in conditioner before brushing can make it easier to brush through her coat and to remove mats if you encounter them. Well-moisturized, healthy fur is less likely to shed excessively and so reduces the amount of hair your kitty ingests while grooming, helping to prevent hairballs. Visit the vet if your cat's coat suddenly seems dry or brittle; this could indicate an underlying health condition.

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