- Grooming a cat regularly can help reduce shedding, matted fur, and hairballs.
- We tested 14 cat brushes, dematting tools, combs, and grooming gloves to select the best for short- and long-haired cats.
- The Andis Premium Deshedding Pet Tool is our top pick for its ability to reach deep into the undercoat and remove excess hair.
There’s a world of difference between grooming a cat and grooming a dog. Some cats love to be brushed or combed, but it can make others downright ornery.
Although the average cat is excellent at self-grooming, spending anywhere from 15% to 50% of their day cleaning themselves, those with long or short hair can benefit from regular brushing or combing, according to Aimee Simpson, VMD, medical director of VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia.
There are a wide variety of tools available for grooming a cat:
- Grooming gloves and curry brushes help remove loose hair, dirt, and debris while stimulating circulation and distributing the natural oils that keep the skin and coat healthy.
- Deshedding tools are used to remove excess hair from the undercoat of cats with long or thick hair. They help minimize hairballs, shedding, and mats.
- Slicker brushes and dematting combs are effective for removing uncomfortable tangles and knots from the undercoat.
For this guide to the best cat brushes, I tested 14 different grooming tools over a three-month period with two cats, one with short hair and one with long hair. I received editorial review samples from their manufacturers with the exception of the Furminator, Resco comb, and SleekEZ tool, which Insider Reviews purchased.
For additional expertise on grooming a cat at home, I spoke with Simpson as well as two professional groomers: Loel Miller, owner of Mobile Grooming by Loel in Walnut Creek, California, and Melissa Tillman, owner of Melissa Michelle Grooming in San Leandro, California.
Here are the best cat brushes you can buy in 2021:
- Best cat brush overall: Andis Pet Deshedding Tool
- Best slicker brush for cats: Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush for Cats
- Best dematting comb for cats: JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Comb
- Best grooming glove for cats: HandsOn All-In-One Bathing & Grooming Gloves
- Best curry brush for cats: Furbliss Pet Brush
Updated on 2/09/2021: We are testing additional cat brushes and combs for an update to this guide in spring 2021. Check out the list of contenders at the end of this guide.
The best brush overall
The hooked teeth on the Andis Pet Deshedding Tool deftly remove hair from a cat’s undercoat without irritating the skin.
Pros: Curved teeth easily remove undercoat fur while protecting skin from irritation, lightweight, easy to grip, small enough to reach tight spots, removes more hair than any other brush tested
Cons: Leaves behind a layer of loose hair after brushing, pricey
Out of the 14 brushes and combs I’ve tested over the last three months, the Andis Pet Deshedding Tool is hands down the most effective at removing excess fur from both short- and long-haired cats. Its hooked teeth gently catch hold and remove hair deep in the undercoat without causing discomfort or irritation to a cat’s skin.
I literally did not know how much hair my cats had concealed in their undercoats until I got ahold of this deshedding brush. I’ve long been a fan of the Furminator, but the Andis Deshedding Tool is simply better at its job. In just a few strokes, this brush removes at least twice the hair of any of the others I tested, including the Furminator.
The power of the Andis deshedder lies in its 17 curved metal teeth, which reach beneath the topcoat to pull hair from the undercoat. The tool itself is lightweight, less than a 1/4 pound, and its polymer handle is easy to grip. From tooth to tail, the brush is 6.25 inches long. The width of the head, about 4.5 inches long, is an ideal size to get the job done quickly while still fitting into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
While I’m not convinced of Andis’ claim that their deshedding tool can help reduce shedding by “up to 90%” is correct, after using this tool a few times a week for a month, I have noticed a reduction in loose hair on the floors and furniture. I’ve also noted that my hairball-prone long-haired cat has had fewer of them since we began using this brush. Neither of my cats seem to experience discomfort while being brushed with this deshedding tool and the hooked teeth prevent me from accidentally nicking or over-raking their skin.
The only thing I dislike about this brush is that it inevitably leaves a thin layer of loose fur on the topcoat. How I remove those excess loose hairs depends on the day. Sometimes I break out another brush like the Furbliss Pet Brush (our pick for best curry brush), but a thorough sweep over the coat with my flat palms seems to work just as well.
The best slicker brush
The Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush helps detangle matted undercoat fur and can be cleaned out with the push of a button.
Pros: Self-cleaning button retracts pins for easy hair removal, ergonomically designed handle with rubber grips, stainless steel pins help to detangle mats and tangles, good for undercoat care, affordable
Cons: Short-haired cats won’t get as much out of this brush
Each of the four slicker brushes I tested worked reasonably well to smooth out matted fur and remove excess hair, but the retractable pins on Safari’s Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush make it stand head and shoulders above the rest. When the brush’s pins are full of hair, press a button on the back to push the front plate forward and dislodge the hair in a solid, furry rectangle.
Unlike deshedding tools, slicker brushes have thin, blunt pins that can slide into tangled hair and break mats apart. This brush did a great job helping me combat the mats on the chest and under the arms of my long-haired cat. While they couldn’t remove every mat alone, the brush has made a difference in keeping his undercoat tangle-free.
The brush has an ergonomic handle with rubber grips, is just under 9 inches in length, and weighs only 4 ounces. Its 288 stainless steel pins (yes, I counted!) measure 3-by-2 inches, a size nimble enough to get into hard to reach places. The plastic button on the back of the brush is a cinch to press one-handed.
While this brush can be used on both long and short hair, it does its best work with long-haired cats whose undercoats tend to be heavier and thicker. Short-haired cats may prefer a soft, rubber curry comb to the blunt pins of the slicker brush.
If your cat’s coat is severely matted, though, the tangles will likely need to be cut out. That job is best left to professionals, according to Simpson. “You should never try to cut mats out of your cat’s hair with scissors. This can lead to accidental laceration of the skin,” she said.
It’s worth noting that if you keep up with brushing a long-haired cat with a deshedder like our best overall pick from Andis, they are less likely to form the mats that a slicker brush tackles best. But for cats that are prone to the occasional tangle, the Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush is an affordable, easy-to-use tool that gets the job done.
Read our full review of the Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush for cats.
The best dematting comb
The JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Comb is lightweight, affordable, and easy to use on cats with longer hair.
Pros: Lightweight, ergonomically designed with nonslip grips, affordable, cats that are sensitive to brushing may prefer this comb, good for detangling mats
Cons: Does not have dual-length teeth or teeth of varying widths, less effective at removing undercoat than a deshedding tool
Long-haired cats are prone to developing tangled mats in their undercoat, causing discomfort and, in some cases, leading to illness. “Matting causes the hair to pull at the skin which is painful,” said Simpson. At the hind end, mats may also “become contaminated with urine and feces and increase the risk for skin infection and ascending urinary tract infections.”
To smooth out matted fur, a metal comb is a more precise tool than a slicker brush. This is especially true if you have a cat that is uncomfortable with the pins on a slicker brush. Simpson recommends using short repetitive strokes, starting at the end of the mat, to gradually loosen it.
The JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Comb is an ultra-affordable, easy-to-use comb that makes a fine addition to a home grooming kit. The ergonomically designed handle has nonslip grips, and the comb weighs less than .33 pounds. At 10.8 inches in length, it is long enough to provide a buffer between your hand and your cat’s teeth and claws.
The comb works fairly well to remove excess undercoat, but because it doesn’t have dual-length teeth placed at varying widths, it can’t be relied on solo. For that, Miller turns to a comb with teeth at varying widths, like Chris Christensen’s #013 Cat/Carding Buttercomb. While Miller feels that there’s no substitute for this comb for professionals, at over fifty dollars, we felt it was cost-prohibitive for your average at-home cat care and opted not to review it for this guide. To remove excess hair after combing, a slicker brush should do the trick.
If you’re looking to add a simple detangling comb to add to your arsenal, however, the JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Comb is a sturdy, high-quality tool that will help you get the job done.
The best grooming glove
The HandsOn Pet Grooming Gloves are an ideal way to remove hair, dirt, and dander from cats that are sensitive to grooming and handling.
Pros: Good for cats who are sensitive to grooming, flexible and comfortable, come in five sizes, can be used wet or dry, good for massage or bathing, durable
Cons: Remove relatively little hair, dirt, and dander compared to other brushes and combs
There’s no one way to groom a cat, Miller told Insider Reviews. “Some cats naturally adore being groomed, some tolerate being groomed, and some are irate at the concept,” she said.
Those who fall into the latter categories may refuse to be groomed with a brush or a comb, but they may be willing to tolerate grooming gloves. Because the gloves fit closely to the natural shape of the palm and don’t require the groomer to brandish a tool, gloves are less threatening than a brush or comb.
“Using a grooming glove or a soft rubber grooming brush can acclimate your cat to the feeling of being brushed in a gentle way,” said Simpson. “Pairing the grooming with a tasty food item — soft or crunchy treats, canned cat food, or even spray cheese — will help to distract your cat and build a positive association with grooming.”
The rubber palms of the HandsOn Pet Grooming Gloves are covered with rounded nubs. Flexible, nonabrasive rubber nodules line each finger in three clumps and two on the thumb. The other side of the glove is made of strong nylon fabric with a Velcro closure at the wrist to secure it snugly.
The gloves come in five sizes, junior to extra large. As an average-sized woman, the medium gloves fit me comfortably. Unlike the other grooming gloves I tested, these didn’t feel overly bulky when I made a fist or bent my fingers. HandsOn Gloves can be used dry or wet, and so far they have not cracked, torn, or grown mildew, which the company claims is a feature of their durability.
While these gloves are well-constructed, relative to all of the other brushes and combs I tested, gloves, in general, are the worst at actually removing hair and dirt from the coats of my short- and long-haired cats. However, if you have a cat that is sensitive to brushing, the HandsOn Grooming Gloves will help to remove at least some loose hair, dirt, and dander. And if you want to try your hand at bathing or massage, these gloves are a great way to introduce them to your cat.
The best curry brush
The versatile Furbliss Pet Brush, which not only combs and massages your cat but also removes fur from upholstery and clothing, is the only grooming tool most short-haired cats will ever need.
Pros: 100% medical-grade silicone, two-sided design, can be used wet or dry for grooming and massage, back side can be used to remove hair from clothing and upholstery, available in two styles, dishwasher or washing machine safe, 100% satisfaction guarantee
Cons: Hair difficult to remove from brush when dry, may be less comfortable for people with very large hands
A good curry brush is ideal for grooming a short-haired cat, according to Tillman. I was impressed by the Furbliss Pet Brush not just because its flexible silicone nubs are gentle and effective at removing loose hair, but because it can also be used to massage a pet, remove hair from clothing and upholstery, and dispense shampoo in the bath (for those brave souls who are willing and able to bathe their cats).
The patented two-sided design of this brush is made from 100% medical-grade silicone that attracts loose hair and dirt. On the front, the brush has flexible nodules that smooth out the topcoat and provide a gentle massage to stimulate circulation in the skin, joints, and muscles. The brush can be used wet or dry and the backside is crisscrossed with reservoir cells to hold shampoo for deep-cleaning while bathing. When dry, the backside can also be gently rubbed over clothing and upholstery to remove hair and lint.
The Furbliss comes in two different styles for cats. The blue brush has dense, cone-shaped teeth for short-haired pets and the green brush has larger nubs spaced more widely apart for long-haired pets. I tried each one on both my long- and short-haired cats and didn’t notice a major difference between them. Each one worked well on both types of fur.
The brush is 4.5-by-2.5 inches in size and weighs just under 4 ounces. I found it easy to grip and use, but it may be a little less comfortable for those with very large hands. Because fur sticks to the silicone material, the brush is a challenge to clean out when dry. Run it under warm water or pop it into a dishwasher or washing machine, though, and the durable brush (which can withstand temperatures up to 250 degrees) comes out squeaky clean. It is also made in the US and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
While the Furbliss can help to remove loose hair, dirt, and dander from long-haired cats, it really shines on cats with shorter hair. Its durability offers a lifetime of grooming, massaging, and cleaning up after your pet.
What else we considered
- Furminator: This deshedding tool does a great job at removing excess hair from the undercoat, but in a side-by-side comparison, the Andis Deshedding Tool came out on top. Although the Furminator’s teeth are more tightly spaced than those on the Andis, they are not hooked at the ends and the relatively small area they cover requires the brush to be cleaned more frequently.
- Litterbox.com Grooming Brush: Litterbox.com’s bamboo grooming brush, which has stainless steel pins on one side and soft boar bristles on the other, doesn’t fit into any of our defined testing categories, but I like that it is two brushes in one. It works well for a short-haired cat but is not particularly effective at removing the undercoat from a long-haired cat.
- SleekEZ Original Deshedding Tool: This affordable wooden tool with a wavy stainless steel blade has a pleasing look and easy-to-hold design. Of the three deshedding blades we tested, however, this one did the worst job at actually removing fur from the undercoat.
- JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Slicker Brush: There’s a soft, ergonomic grip on this slicker brush and you can’t beat the price but the big, round head makes it difficult to get to hard-to-reach spots.
- Hartz Groomer’s Best Slicker Brush: Hartz’s affordable slicker brush, which has tightly spaced metal pins topped with protective plastic dots and arranged in an easy-to-use shape, works well. Unlike the Safari slicker, however, it is a challenge to clean after use.
- Litterbox.com Slicker Brush: This slicker brush is made of natural bamboo and the metal bristles. The teeth remove hair well but the brush’s head is wide and rectangular, making it both harder to get at hard to reach areas and a challenge to clean.
- Kong Cat Zoom Groom Multi-Use Brush: While Kong’s curry brush is about one-third the cost of those by Furbliss, the test cats were less comfortable with its long, firm teeth (each is .75 inches). Compared to the Furbliss curry brush, Kong’s rubber material was less effective at removing hair and dirt, and it cannot be used to remove hair from clothing or upholstery.
- Mr. Peanut’s Grooming Hand Gloves: Mr. Peanut’s neoprene, one-size-fits all grooming gloves are covered in almost 180 silicone nubs evenly distributed over the palm and fingers. But while they have an adjustable Velcro strap to keep them on, I found the gloves bulky, imprecise and, like all grooming gloves, a poor substitute for removing hair unless you have a handling-sensitive cat.
- Resco Pro-Series Rotating Pin Comb: This high-quality comb has stainless-steel teeth that are effective for removing mats, but the weight and design of the handle make it less comfortable to use than the JW Pet Gripsoft Cat Comb.
What we're looking forward to
We’re testing the following cat brushes and combs for an update to this guide:
- Babyliss Pro Pet Carding Cat and Dog Comb
- Bissell Furget It All-in-One Grooming Brush
- Eopna Glossy Groomer
- Chris Christensen #013 Cat Carding Buttercomb
- Go Pets Dematting Comb
- Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush
- Master Grooming Tools Flexible Slicker Brush
- Safari Cat Shedding Comb
Cat Grooming FAQs
How often should I groom my cat?
Opinions differ even among professionals as to how often a cat should be groomed. Some suggest brushing daily or a few times a week. Tillman’s rule of thumb is to groom your cat as often as they will let you. According to the ASPCA, brushing your cat once or twice a week can help keep their coat healthy. VCA Hospitals, on the other hand, recommends brushing your cat daily, especially if they have long hair or a thick coat. Older cats whose grooming abilities have declined may need more regular sessions than younger cats.
How often should I use a deshedding tool on my long-haired or thick-coated cat?
Again, there are no universally accepted rules for grooming with a deshedding tool. For instance, Andis recommends using its deshedder a few times a week, while Furminator recommends using its tool once a week.
How long should a grooming session with my cat last?
Cats “can go rapidly from purring to flailing sharp claws in your face,” according to Miller. Instead of sticking to a set period of time for grooming, pay close attention to your cat’s body language. If they become agitated or attempt to move away from the brush or comb, call an end to the session and pick it up again later.
How can I make grooming pleasant for my cat?
The earlier you begin to introduce your cat to grooming, the better. “Kittens that are regularly groomed and have their nails trimmed become used to being handled,” said Simpson.
To set your cat up for grooming success, Simpson recommends positioning them in a comfortable, quiet area and pairing gentle strokes of the brush or comb with delicious treats. Lickable foods such as Easy Cheese and Inaba Churu are especially high-value for many cats. Though it may be tempting to ask another person to hold your cat as you brush, Simpson said your cat is likely to be less anxious if you work alone without restraining them.
Does my cat need a bath?
While cats don’t need to be bathed, Miller said baths are effective for removing dander and dead undercoat and for keeping a cat’s coat fresh. However, few cats will tolerate bathing by their guardian. If you think your cat might be willing to be bathed, introduce it cautiously and use a shampoo designed specifically for cats, not humans.
When should I take my cat to a professional groomer?
Anytime a cat is heavily matted and requires shaving, it’s best to consult a professional. “Cat’s skin is easy to cut,so it’s best to leave that up to us,” said Tillman. If you have a cat who dislikes being brushed, don’t hesitate to hire a groomer to do the basics, too. “It’s best not to push the limits of a cat where you are in danger of being injured,” said Miller.
Who we consulted
Loel Miller, owner of Mobile Grooming by Loel in Walnut Creek, California
Aimee Simpson, VMD, medical director of VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia
Melissa Tillman, owner of Melissa Michelle Grooming in San Leandro, California
Cat Grooming Tips, ASPCA
Tammy Hunter, DVM; Cheryl Yuill, DVM, Grooming and Coat Care for Your Cat, VCA Hospitals
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