Long-haired cats can prove to be a challenge. Although they groom themselves, sometimes they can face challenges unique to their coat, and require more extensive grooming than shorthaired varieties.
The number one thing is to brush regularly. This simple practice encourages skin health, discourages hairballs, and improves your cat's bond with you. If you have a long-haired cat, a Furminator can be a lifesaver. If you don't, try to start by working a metal comb through your cat's fur, following with a rubber comb or mitt. This ensures the most thorough removal of hair. Long-haired cats may need daily grooming. If your cat has mats in their hair, cut them away, being careful not to touch the skin. Use the grooming time to check for evidence of fleas, ticks or tapeworms. Often, longhaired cats will catch bits of litter or feces on their hindquarters. If this is a problem for your cat, consider a "vanity cut", or shaving the hindquarters. You can also try experimenting with adjusting your cat's diet. If you find just occasional evidence of this, brush away gently with a brush reserved for this task.
Bathing a cat can be a stressful experience for all involved, but if kittens become familiarized with the process, they can even grow to enjoy baths. We recommend following the ASPCA's bathing protocol. Remember to start while your cat is mellow, and brush prior to wetting the cat. If your cat just will not tolerate water, wipe them down gently with a wet towel. (This removes a large portion of the dander found on a cat's fur.) Bathing may not be required if you are brushing regularly and thoroughly (including the undercarriage).
Grooming supplies can be found at a local pet store; if you are dissatisfied with their selection, we encourage you to work with a knowledgeable online retailer, like Aroma Paws. You may find it easier to work with a local groomer; they are professionals and work with long-haired cats regularly. You may also consider shaving the cat from time to time, especially during hot weather or extremely busy times in your life (new baby? moving cross-country?); many groomers call this the "lion cut".
Tending to your cat's fur is part of the job; however, it can also become a pleasurable bonding experience for you both. Work to create a calm environment for your cat, with a quiet room. You may start finding it relaxing yourself!