Grooming your Norwegian Forest Cat
OK, it's been a cold winter, and your friendly Norwegian Forest Cat now looks disturbingly bear-like (and a fluffy bear at that). What to do...?
NFCs should not need much grooming, not like the Persian which needs a regular 'comb out' session every day or thick matts will form. However, there are easier and harder coats, depending on colour and the lines they are from. If you have a blue or blue tabby NFC, it is likely to be harder to maintain as it is more dense. Softer coats like silver tabby, red tabby or white also need special care. Brown tabbies and tortie tabbies are probably the easiest coats to keep free of knots as they tend to be more 'oily', as a good NFC coat should be.
This winter, our NFCs grew huge coats due to the much cooler weather this year, so here are some grooming tips to prepare you for the Spring when NFCs 'step out of their winter coats'.
To groom my cats, I use a wide-toothed rake comb - the wider you can get, the better. I bought it from KMart - not a specialist dog grooming parlour or anything! I sometimes see them in discount shops too. I also invested in some 'rotating tooth combs' and these are wonderful for the NFC coat as they get through it without snagging and the cat will tolerate it well. I sell them for pretty much cost price of $30 which is what it costs me to buy and import them from the USA. If you want one, please check I have some left, then just credit my account on the 'How to Buy One of Our Kittens' and tell me, and I will post one off to you. I bought some for my own cats, but it was cheaper to buy a dozen, so I did, and have a few spares in stock.
I would not use the 'Furminator' - it's too rough on the fine coat of the NFC and will strip and hurt your cat. I have tried in the past, but was not impressed with the bald patches it left.
I do find that if there is a solid knot in the coat, it is better to just snip it out with a round-edge pair of scissors. It's likely to be loose hair anyway, and if left, knots can become pandemic. Once they get close up tight to the skin, you're in trouble as you need to be so careful not to slice the cat's skin, as this can lead to serious infection. If you hurt her, she'll never let you do it again! In fact, before I get into a serious grooming session, I always make sure the cat's nails are clipped first, or you're asking to get scratched. Do it patiently and very gently; don't tug, make a fuss of her, talk to her calmly and reward her when you've had a grooming session - and keep each session to a minute or so if she is getting stressed, then do more later.
A bit of talcum powder (Cussons Baby Powder is great) is useful to rub into the coat and loosely brush out, just to dry up stickiness and grease. Don't do it too often, and I warn you, NEVER wash a Norwegian if you don't know exactly what you're doing, as you will strip the coat of essential oils and it will matt badly, in fact virtually 'felt' like a pure wool jumper washed badly, unless you use a professional groomer. If you do decide to get them washed, be sure to add good conditioner, rinse well, and dry them quickly, and don't wash more than two or three times a year. If your cat has white paws, just sponge gently with warm water and a little pet shampoo (do not use human shampoo or eucalyptus - it is poisonous to cats), rinse well and rub dry. She will probably continue the washing job herself as most NFCs are very clean animals.
If all else fails, you will need to book an appointment with your vet and he/she will probably gently shave really tough areas. It grows back quickly, so don't worry. I have a Persian breeder next door to me, and she shaves most of her cats into a 'poodle-cut' in the Spring, when they moult their winter coat. You will need to get on top of this quickly when warmer weather is on the way and you will find NFCs 'step out of their coat' in Spring and become almost shorthaired in the summer months. Keep a close eye in their 'arm pits' and behind their ears, places they can't reach well themselves, also around their backside.
Of course, knots will eventually work themselves out, but some Persian cats get so matted that they can barely move their legs, let alone keep themselves clean in the nether regions. NFCs should not have such a problem with coats as they are supposed to be self-maintaining, but some of them are harder than others and I am always striving to get better, more oily coats, true to the standard and needing less work in grooming. I don't promise to have attained this yet in all my cats!
Best of luck, and persevere in getting your cat free from knots.