Cat Grooming: How to Brush a Cat that Hates it


Grooming is an important routine to get into with your cat, particularly if your pet has long hair.

Not only does it help to prevent matting and tangling, but it has other benefits too. Grooming cats removes dead skin cells, dust and loose hairs and it can even boost the skin’s circulation.

It also allows you to check in on their wellbeing; your cat’s coat is a good indicator of their overall health and you can check for any sore patches or parasites at the same time.

Some cats will happily accept being groomed and even enjoy it! But, for many pet owners this is not the case. Often cats are uncooperative when it comes to grooming, and some will do anything to avoid it!

So what can you do if your cat refuses to let you go anywhere near them with a grooming brush? Here are our top tips for cat grooming.

Why Does My Cat Not Like Being Groomed?

Before you start your cat grooming journey, it’s important to understand why your cat may not like being brushed. Possible reasons include:

Fear: If your cat has had a bad experience of being brushed in the past, they may be frightened of it.

Not enjoying being handled: Your cat may not like the experience of being held and therefore dislike grooming sessions.

Over-stimulation: If the grooming session is too long, your cat may become irritated and over-stimulated.

Discomfort: Grooming can be painful for cats if they have a lot of tangles or a matted coat.

How to Groom a Cat

Whatever the reason, if your cat has formed a negative association with grooming, then it’s important to change your approach. Here are some ways to help achieve this.

Form a Positive Association with Grooming

Building a more positive association with the cat brush can go a long way towards changing their attitude towards grooming.

In the beginning, this can be as simple as encouraging your cat to interact with the grooming brush. Reward them if they sniff it or start rubbing against the bristles.

When you progress to brushing, start with areas your cat likes to be petted. For example, over the back, around the base of the tail, between the ears and under the chin. Don’t hold them down, and simply use the brush as you would your hand when stroking them.

You could also try using textured brushing gloves to start with, to make the experience even more akin to being stroked.

Keep Your Cat Grooming Sessions Short and Sweet

Short, frequent sessions are best.

As soon as you see your cat showing signs of irritation – such as tail flicking, twitching, dilated pupils, flattened ears – end the session. This way your cat will hopefully remember the pleasant part of the experience, rather than recalling wanting to escape.

Help Your Cat to Relax Using Pheromones

You can reduce feelings of stress your cat experiences during grooming using calming products, such as Feliway.

Feliway works by mimicking the natural pheromones that cats will leave behind when they rub their faces against furniture and other things in the home. These are associated with safety and security so it can help your cat to feel less anxious if they can sense pheromones in their environment.

Choose the Right Cat Brush

There are lots of different kinds of cat brushes out there. Take the time to explore which is the right one for your cat.

Dematting Combs

If your cat has matted fur, always use a specialised dematting comb. Never try cutting matted fur with scissors as you risk cutting your cat’s skin. If matting is severe, speak to your vet for advice.

Slicker Brushes

Slicker brushes are good for pulling out dead hair and breaking down mats in long-haired cats. It’s important to be gentle when using a slicker brush as they have fine, tightly spaced wires that can cause discomfort if used too vigorously.

Pin Brushes

Pin brushes look the most similar to human brushes. They have long metal bristles with tips to prevent them from scratching your pet, making them great for pets with sensitive skin. They are also good to use at the end of the grooming process to finish and fluff a coat.

Bristle Brushes

Bristle brushes are best for use on short-haired cats, especially those that shed a lot. They are made with clusters of tightly packed bristles and will remove dead and loose fur. This cat brush is double sided, so you get the best of both worlds when it comes to pin and bristle brushes.

Stripping Combs

Stripping combs or shedding rakes have a protected blade designed to remove unwanted undercoat hair near your cat’s skin. You should use one with pins that roughly match your cat’s hair length.

Deshedding tool

Similar to stripping combs, the FURminator deshedding tool works by reaching deep beneath the top coat and removing hair from the undercoat. This is a great way to reduce shedding by up to 99%.

Curry Combs

The Kong ZoomGroom has a rubbery texture that will act like a magnet to loose hairs. It also massages your cat at the same time as brushing them. This helps to stimulate the blood vessels and distribute natural oils to promote coat health.

Grooming Spray

If your cat’s coat is particularly tangled, a grooming spray can help the brush to glide through fur more easily.

Alternatives to Brushing

If your cat really doesn’t like being brushed, there are some alternatives you may want to consider.

Cat Grooming Glove

Cat grooming gloves or grooming mitts help your cat to feel that they are being petted rather than groomed. They can be a great, sneaky way of getting in some grooming time without your cat realising.


You could try setting up a self-grooming station in your home. These feature flexible brushes for your cat to rub against, and often contain catnip to entice your pet. Some can be adhered to flat walls or corner surfaces. Self-groomers are a nice easy way to keep your cat’s fur healthy without your cat even realising!

Shed Control Cloths

These handy wipes are designed to remove loose surface hair and clean your cat’s coat at the same time. They can reduce potential for hairballs without brushing.

As much as we love them, it has to be said that our feline friends can be a little stubborn! Introduce them to brushes slowly and in a positive way before grooming them properly. It may take a while, but building up those positive associations is key to getting your cat comfortable with brushing. With the right tools and a bit of patience, cat grooming will soon go from being a chore to quality time with your pet!

Do you have any other tips for grooming cats who are not fans of it? Let us know in the comments section below!