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How Can I Minimize How Much My Cat Sheds?

Q: Dear Nora,
My medium-haired cat sheds like you wouldn’t believe. It’s not possible for me to vacuum every day, so my home is always covered in hair. I have tried brushing her, but she is scared of the brush and won’t let me go near her with it. As a medium-haired cat yourself, do you have any ideas of how I can help reduce the amount of hair she is shedding?

iamthegreatwent @ Instagram
iamthegreatwent @ Instagram

A: There are lots of ways to keep the furball situation under control, even if you live with a medium-haired cat who is afraid of brushes. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a Love Glove. This grooming mitt may not be as scary as a brush and I bet she’ll love how the little nubs will feel like the best back scratch she’s ever gotten.
  • Depending on the climate where you live, consider giving her a haircut (I like a dignified lion cut, myself). Never give her a haircut by yourself though; beneath our coats we have very thin skin, which can be dangerous if accidentally cut or nicked. Always get your cat’s hair cut by a trained professional such as a groomer or veterinarian.
  • Having a small, hand-held vacuum on hand (rather than always dragging out a clunky full-sized one) can make it easy to zip up stray hairballs.
  • Adding a 1/2 teaspoon of a omega oil (flax or fish) to her daily diet can help reduce the amount that she’s shedding. Be sure to choose a high quality oil from a reputable company.

Hopefully one or all of these ideas will help reduce the amount of hair in your home. If you believe that your cat is shedding an abnormal amount, of course, take your lil’ lady to the vet!


How Can I Reduce Litter Tracking?

Q: Dear Nora,
We use pine litter in our cat’s litter box and generally like it, except that we find it tracked all over our home! What can we do to minimize the mess? 

iamthegreatwent @ instagram
iamthegreatwent @ instagram

A: If you hate finding litter tracked throughout your home, pine is the worst choice of litter for you. Our little kitty feet can trap an amazing amount of litter and we can trap even more with fine-textured pine. There are some options though.

If you are set on pine, put a textured mat outside the litter box. The mat will release the litter (most of it, at least). Some cats hate the texture of mats though and will avoid the litter box if you use one, so have a mat-free box available while you’re introducing the mat, to make sure your cat won’t do her business elsewhere.

If your kitty has extra tufty toes like I do, it helps to trim the hair between them (only to be the length of the pad of her foot– don’t actually trim between her toes). If you don’t feel totally confident that you can trim the hair without cutting her pads (ouch!) take her to a groomer.

If you want to reduce tracking even more, consider using a litter that is made of larger granules. You can even switch to the pine pellets. The bigger granules are less likely to get stuck between toes and tracked throughout your home– especially combined with a mat outside the box.

Should I Shave My Cat This Summer?

Q: Dear Nora,

My cat has fairly long hair and has been pretty sluggish over the past few days from the heat. I’m considering trimming his hair, but I don’t know if it’s the best thing to do. I’ve been reading that cats regulate their own body heat naturally and I don’t want to mess with that. Thoughts? And, what are other things I can do to help my cat be less miserable in the summer?

A: I agree that your cat’s coat is actually helping him stay cooler in the heat. Not only that, but his coat will also help him stay safe from the sun if he likes to lounge in windows like I do. His coat can protect him from sunburns and skin cancer. There are a few things you can do instead though.

  • If your cat has an exceptionally thick coat you can brush him more regularly to remove extra detached fur. You can also use a thinning tool such as the Furmintaor. Careful with that thing though; you can easily and quickly overdo it.
  • Sounds like it’s time to get an air conditioner. If you don’t want or can’t have a window unit, consider a smaller, more portable version. Also, close the curtains or blinds during the day. Simply blocking out the sun can make such a difference.
  • If your cat tends to sleep in the same bed or area during the day, point a fan in his direction.
  • Make sure there is plenty of fresh water available. Hydration is key. I really like it when my mama puts ice cubes in my water during the summer.
  • I’m not a fan of this myself, but my sister Pippi used to really like being rubbed down with a washcloth soaked in cool water. She looked like a drowned rat, but it kept her cool.

In extreme heat conditions, keep an eye out for symptoms that may indicate that your cat is overheating—heavy panting, vomiting, staggering and drooling, skin that’s hot to the touch, and glazed eyes. Rush your cat to his veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, as they can result in death.

P.S. If you disregard my advice and decide to shave your cat anyway, please hire a professional to do it. Cat skin is very thin and can be easily nicked by someone who isn’t trained.

Natural Flea Remedies?


Q: Dear Nora,
Is there something non-toxic and more natural than prescription treatments that I can use to rid my home and cat of fleas? 

A: Fleas are the worst. When I was rescued by my friend Mike last summer, before I found my forever home, I was covered in an unbelievable amount of fleas. They were always biting me and driving me crazy. Kudos to you for caring about keeping your kitty flea-less in a non-toxic way.

For a natural remedy, try apple cider vinegar. Spray diluted (50/50 with water) onto your floors and carpets. You can also rub this mixture into her coat. Fleas hate the sour taste of vinegar and will avoid it. To catch jumpers, you can also mix dish detergent into water and leave bowls of it around your home. The fleas will be attracted to the sweet smell of the detergent, jump in, and won’t be able to get out.

When using natural remedies that deter fleas without killing them, you must vacuum every day (several times per day if possible!) to suck up fleas and eggs. Empty the vacuum bag often, too, so the fleas don’t hop out!