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Best Cat Brushes, Worst Cat Brushes: The Ultimate Guide to Every Kind of Cat Brush


ultimate guide to cat brushes feature image lots of blue brushes piled together

Table of Contents

Slicker Brushes
Bristle Brushes & Combination Brushes
Undercoat Rakes
DeShedding Combs and Deshedding Tools
Rubber Curry Brushes
Flea Combs
Rubber Glove Brushes
Water, Steam and Misting Cat Brushes
Key Takeaways

Cats are known for their self-sufficiency, but did you know that grooming is more than just a spa day for our feline friends but actually a crucial element to their well-being? Maintaining a good coat can not only contribute to your cat living a longer healthier life, it reduces stress, reduces hairballs and develops a must-needed routine that forms a better behaved pet!

There are hundreds of different types of brushes out there with several unique traits. Some cat brushes will help maintain your cat's coat and protect their sensitive skin much better than others. For several reasons there are some we can consider the best, and some that earn the title of being the worst kind of cat brushes.

In this ultimate guide to every kind of cat brushes we’ll delve into every variety of this essential tool and put them to the test with a scorecard that determines what makes them the best cat brushes – or one of the worst. Let's get started! 🐾

Slicker BrushesSlicker Cat Brushes on the Bailey Cat Brush Blog

What’s a Slicker Brush?

A cat slicker brush is a cat grooming tool designed to remove loose fur, tangles, and mats from a cat's coat. It typically features fine, short wires that are very close together on a flat surface, with the wires typically mounted on a flexible pad. The best slickers are flexible but it’s very common to find cheap generic brushes made of flat plastic.

The concept of the slicker brush is that it’s meant to penetrate the topcoat and reach down to the undercoat of a cat's fur. This in theory makes it effective in removing loose hair and helps prevent matting which is why it’s a common tool for professional groomers.

The technique needed to use a Slicker Brush is very gentle strokes or you can risk harming your cat’s skin. Some slicker brushes have quick release buttons to “self clean” which is a new gimmick for cheaper makes of brushes. If you aren’t able to pull the hair off yourself then it can be considered useful. The worst styles to avoid are ones with cheap plastic and lots of moving parts as they tend to break after a short while.

Why is it called a Slicker Brush?

The term "slicker brush" is derived from the word "slick," which means smooth, sleek, or glossy. The name reflects the primary purpose of the brush, which is to create a smooth and sleek appearance in a cat's or dog's coat by removing loose fur, tangles, and mats. This is another reason why it’s a common tool for professional groomers. Your pet can be presented to you with a nice slick coat when their grooming session is all done.

The design of slicker brushes, with their fine and closely spaced wires, allows them to efficiently glide through the fur. The result is usually a sleek and well-groomed coat.

The term "slicker brush" is commonly used in the context of pet grooming tools, and you'll find slicker brushes available for both cats and dogs. The name has become standard in the pet grooming industry to describe brushes with this specific design and functionality.

Key features of a cat slicker brush:

Fine Wire Bristles: The short, fine wires are close together to effectively trap and remove loose fur. The closer together they are then the more comfortable it will be for your pet. Caution: Cheaper quality slicker brushes are wider apart and also prone to losing wires which can be a dangerous hazard to your pet. Some slicker’s can be metal or plastic, capped with round tips or bent metal points. It’s best to avoid bent wires or slicker brushes that have hooked shaped wires as these will pull out healthy hair as well as loose dead hair. It may appear very effective in removing hair with these wires but over time will thin the coat of your pet.

Flexible Pad: The best quality slicker brushes have wires mounted on a flexible pad, the worst don’t. If the brush doesn’t contour to your cat’s body shape you can expect most cat’s will not enjoy the grooming experience as it can cause irritation to the skin.

Ergonomic Handle: The best slicker cat brushes should have an ergonomic handle for ease of use and to provide a comfortable grip for the person grooming the cat. The worst slicker brushes are usually a straight cylindrical handle which unfortunately is becoming more common and are not considered serious grooming tools due to their lack of quality.

Effectiveness for Removing Mats: Quality slicker brushes are useful for cats with long or medium-length fur prone to matting. The fine bristles can help gently detangle and remove mats but because of their thin wires and sharper points it’s not recommended to use a slicker brush every day. It’s important to always pair a regiment of different brushes on different days for the optimal care of your cat, or use a softer silicone brush daily.

It’s essential to use a slicker brush with care, especially on cats with sensitive skin, to ensure a positive grooming experience for your feline friends. Read between the lines when monitoring your cat's reaction. A good brush will be enjoyed for several minutes, not several seconds.

Slicker Brush Score Card:

Effectiveness: B
Daily Usage: F
Safeness: D
Comfort: B
Popularity: C

Bristle Brushes & Combination Brushes

Bristle and Double Sided Cat Brushes

What is a Bristle Brush?

A bristle cat brush is a grooming tool designed to groom and maintain a cat's coat by using densely packed bristles made from various materials such as natural boar hair or synthetic fibers. Unlike slicker brushes, which have fine wires close together, bristle brushes feature thicker and more widely spaced groups of bristles. These brushes are generally suitable for cats with short to medium-length coats. They are essentially the same as human hair brushes and can be made of bamboo, metal, or plastic frames.

Key features of a bristle cat brushes:

Dense Bristles: The brush has closely packed bristles that aid in removing loose fur and distributing natural oils through the coat. Caution: The worst brushes drop bristles which can be a hazard to your pet. Ensure you use high quality brushes with your cat.

Gentle on the Skin: Bristle brushes are typically designed to be more gentle on a cat's skin, making them suitable for cats with sensitive skin. Depending on the bristles, they can be firm or soft, coarse or fine. Bristle material and the brush quality play a considerable role in the overall quality of the brush. Typically a good quality brush can be used every day on your cat.

Effective for Shiny Coats: The brushing action of the bristles helps stimulate the production and distribution of natural oils in the cat's coat, typically promoting a healthy and shiny appearance. Just make sure your bristles are soft to the touch and your cat has the correct fur type for the type of bristles.

Versatility: Bristle brushes are versatile and can be used for regular grooming to remove loose hair and prevent matting. However they do not reach the skin or massage your cat’s skin and are generally ineffective with long hair cats and do not reach close to the skin which may result in matting even with frequent use.

Bristle Brush Score Card:

Effectiveness: C
Daily Usage: B
Safeness: C+
Comfort: B
Popularity: B

Undercoat Rakes

Fur Rakes and Rake Cat Brushes and Combs like the Ferminator on Bailey Blog

What is an undercoat rake?

Undercoat rakes are grooming tools specifically designed to remove the loose or shedding undercoat of double-coated breeds, particularly dogs and cats. These breeds typically have a soft, dense undercoat beneath a longer, coarser topcoat. Undercoat rakes have a unique design with closely spaced, short teeth that penetrate the topcoat and effectively remove the loose fur from the undercoat without cutting or damaging the topcoat.

Caution: Some undercoat rakes do contain sharp points and small blades. Typically undercoat rakes are used for groomers that understand their risks and how to properly use them.

Key features of undercoat rakes:

Short, Closely Spaced Teeth: The rake features short metal teeth, usually arranged in rows, that are designed to reach through the topcoat and into the undercoat, capturing and removing loose hairs.

Varying Tooth Lengths: Some undercoat rakes have teeth of varying lengths to accommodate the different lengths of fur in the undercoat. These should not be used every day and should be used with caution.

Curved or Angled Head: The head of the rake may be curved or angled to follow the contours of the pet's body, making it easier to groom hard-to-reach areas. Some may also have quick release buttons as hair can get caught or tangled within the brush.

Effective for Reducing Shedding: Undercoat rakes are highly effective at reducing shedding by removing the loose undercoat hairs that can contribute to mats and tangles but should be used sparingly. They can be dangerous if they contain blades or sharp points or are used daily. If used improperly they can result in thinning and in worst cases can result in bald patches. Stop using if there are heavy mattes or you feel resistance from the fur when using or your pet is showing signs of discomfort.

Suitable for Double-Coated Breeds: Breeds with double coats, such as German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Maine Coon cats benefit from the use of undercoat rakes. Typically these are used by professional groomers and veterinarians.

Undercoat Rakes Score Card:

Effectiveness: A
Daily Usage: F
Safeness: D
Comfort: C
Popularity: B

DeShedding Combs and Deshedding Tools

Deshedding Tools and Grooming tools header image on the Bailey Blog

What is a deshedding comb?

A deshedding comb is a specialized grooming tool designed to reduce shedding by removing loose or dead hair from a pet's coat, particularly for breeds with dense undercoats. These combs typically feature a combination of short and long teeth that are designed to penetrate the topcoat and reach down to the undercoat.

Key features of a deshedding comb:

Dual-Length Teeth: The best deshedding combs typically have both short and long teeth. The short teeth help remove loose fur from the topcoat, while the longer teeth reach into the undercoat to capture shedding hairs. The worst deshedding combs have teeth that are short and only one length.

Closely Spaced Teeth: The teeth should be closely spaced to ensure effective removal of loose hair without causing discomfort to the pet. The wider they are, the worse it gets and more uncomfortable it will be for your pet.

Ergonomic Design: Deshedding combs should have a handle with an ergonomic shape for a comfortable grip during grooming sessions.

Material: The best quality deshedding combs are made of a high quality stainless steel. The worst ones are made of cheap plastic. Those are best to avoid as they will most certainly break after only a few uses and any small pieces can be hazardous to your pet.

Mildly Effective for Reducing Shedding: These combs are mildly effective at reducing shedding by removing the loose hairs that would otherwise end up on furniture and clothing but can pose a risk to a pets sensitive skin and should not be used every day.

Suitable for Various Coat Types: Deshedding combs are versatile and can be used on a variety of coat lengths and types, although they are particularly beneficial and most often used for double-coated breeds.

Deshedding combs Score Card:

Effectiveness: B+
Daily Usage: D
Safeness: C
Comfort: C
Popularity: C

Rubber Curry Brushes

Samples of three rubber curry brushes, a blue rubber curry brush, a black plastic brush with fine points and a light blue curry brush with several fine light blue bristles

What is a rubber curry brush?

A curry brush, also known as a curry comb, is a grooming tool designed for removing loose hair, dirt, and debris from the coat of horses, dogs, or other animals with short coats. It typically features a rubber or plastic body with short, rubber or plastic teeth or nubs that are designed to stimulate the skin and hair follicles while effectively lifting loose fur.

Why are they called a curry brush?

The term "curry brush" has historical roots and is derived from the word "curry" in the context of horse grooming. The word "curry" in this context comes from the Old French word "conre," which means a comb for grooming horses. Over time, this term evolved into "curry," and the tool became known as a "curry comb" or "curry brush."

Typically, the grooming process using a curry brush involves circular motions and massaging actions on a horse's coat. The action of a curry brush on the horse's coat helps loosen dirt, stimulate the skin, and lift loose hairs, preparing the coat for further grooming.

Today, the curry style of brush has been adapted to household animals like cats and dogs and they come in many different shapes and styles.

Key features in a curry brush for cats:

Rubber or Plastic Bristles: Curry brushes typically have short, flexible bristles made of rubber or plastic. These bristles can vary in length and density and shapes. The best brushes are patented designs. The worst brushes are generic or have odd shaped bristles. The lifespan of a curry brush with daily use is typically a few months. Due to them being made with variable quality of rubber they generally deteriorate easily over time and lose their effectiveness. A curry brush made of high quality kitchen grade silicone will last over 3 times longer than a rubber curry brush. We recommend avoiding plastic or cheaper rubber products for your pet’s safety and to reduce the negative impacts these have on the environment.

Handheld Design: Curry brushes are typically handheld and can be comfortably gripped in the user's hand. When held properly in your hand, a fussy pet may never notice your curry brush at all. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are designed to be held better, the best brushes are ergonomic and fit perfectly to the palm of your hand.

Circular or Oval Shape: The brush often has a circular or oval shape, making it easy to maneuver and control during grooming. They can be used in one direction or circular directions to massage your pet and because of this they are typically the most comfortable and most loved style of brushes for cats.

Stimulates Skin and Hair: For short haired cats,  short, flexible bristles stimulate the skin and hair follicles, promoting circulation and aiding in the removal of loose fur, dirt, and debris. If you have a long haired cat it's important to use a long and wider toothed curry brush or it will not be effective. Generally, longer bristled curry brushes are the best and most versatile.

Useful for Massaging: Did somebody say Spa Day? Curry brushes provide a massaging effect, making the grooming experience more enjoyable! Typically a high quality silicone curry brush is recommended by most veterinarians and groomers for everyday use to give your cat a daily massage and promote a healthy coat.

A curry brush or similar is a must-have for every pet.

Some people say the Bailey Brush is a curry brush. It’s similar, but we of course designed it to be the best. (obviously) because it’s made with high-quality silicone, designed for all fur lengths, strong enough for undercoats, safe for everyday use, reduces hairballs and is easily sanitized in hot water.

Curry Brush and Curry Comb Score Card:

Effectiveness: A
Daily Usage: A
Safeness: A
Comfort: A
Popularity: B

Flea Combs

Light blue flea comb for cats and a lime green flea comb with tightly spaces metallic bristles

What is a flea comb?

A flea comb is a specialized grooming tool designed to remove fleas, flea eggs, and flea dirt (feces) from the fur of pets. Flea combs have tightly spaced teeth, which are often very fine and closely aligned, allowing them to trap and lift fleas and their eggs from the coat. These combs are particularly useful for detecting and removing fleas, especially in areas where flea infestations are common.

Technically they are not a brush but they are an essential grooming tool for your cat. If you notice your cat scratching more than normal, it’s time for a flea or tick inspection!

Key features of a flea combs:

Fine Teeth: Flea combs have very fine and closely spaced teeth that can effectively trap and remove small pests like fleas and their eggs. If they don’t have incredibly fine teeth that are very close together than it would be useless, so for the best flea combs that would be the most important thing to look at.

Close Alignment: The teeth are aligned closely to ensure that fleas and their eggs cannot escape through the spaces between the teeth.

Durable Materials: Flea combs are typically made of durable materials such as metal. If these products are durable to withstand a good cleaning then they also will be one of the worst options to get!

Flea Comb Score Card:

Effectiveness: A
Daily Usage: F
Safeness: D
Comfort: C
Popularity: D

Rubber Glove Brushes or Mitt Brushes

Pink Rubber Glove with little bumps for a cat brush and a dark black glove that fits tightly around fingers for cat fur

What’s a Rubber Glove Brush?

A rubber glove brush, also known as a grooming glove or pet hair removal glove, is an easy-to-use grooming tool designed to remove loose fur, dirt, and debris from a pet's coat. It typically resembles a glove made of rubber or a rubber-like material, and it has small, flexible nodules or bristles on the palm and fingers.

We call this the lazy-groomers tool. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being lazy! Just slap that glove on your hand and pet ole whiskers there and you’ll be pulling out hair in no-time!

These gloves are not to be confused with those silicone dishwashing gloves. They are somewhat similar, but typically silicone is a better material for lathering and washing a dog with soap and water.

Key features of a rubber glove brush:

Rubber Material: Most of the rubber glove brushes are made of rubber or a similar flexible material, which is somewhat gentle on the pet's skin. If cats could talk we could imagine they would want to tell you just how weird it feels to have a handful of bristles pulled along their entire body. For now, we’ll accept the meow as a similar description of that.

Nodules or Bristles: The palm and fingers of the glove have small nodules or bristles that help trap and lift loose fur, dirt, and debris from the pet's coat. Because rubber is clingy and these bristles are typically not that deep they do have a bit of a pulling effect. Many cats do not like the gloves and the feeling of having their hair pulled on. It may appear to get good results but we imagine that if this was to be used weekly you would be pulling out healthy hair as often as the loose and dead hair.

Versatility: Rubber glove brushes are versatile and can be used on various coat lengths and types, you can often find them being used for larger dogs at bathtime.

Gentle Massage: The nodules or bristles provide a gentle massaging effect if you are gentle. Be sure to check on ole fluffy’s vitals there to see if she’s really enjoying it or if it’s time to stop and switch to something a little more comfortable.

Easy to Clean: The best rubber gloves are often easy to clean. If they have any other materials on them or fabric, good luck! Fur and debris can be easily removed from the glove's surface with a good wash, but keep in mind if the brush is made of regular rubber that it will start to degrade after a couple of months and frequent use. Rubber gloves have been known to harbor bacteria and are not easily sanitized, typically this product should be replaced every few months which is why we rank this grooming method as one of the worst.

Rubber Glove Brush Score Card:

Effectiveness: B
Daily Usage: D
Safeness: C
Comfort: C
Popularity: C+

Water, Steam and Misting Cat Brushes

Three samples of water steam and misty brushes with a caution stamp above them to help people protect their cats and dogs

What is a water, steam or misty cat brush?

Perhaps this is a new category of cat brush!  This new fad became a viral trend on tik tok because of it’s apparent super effective way it pulls hair from a cat. Basically you can take any of the above style of cat brushes and grooming brushes and incorporate water, steam, or a misting feature to “enhance” the grooming process.

The water feature simply aims at reducing static and increasing traction on the cat’s hair in order to pull out more hair as a result of adding additional moisture to your cat.

Does it work?

Technically, yes. Adding moisture to any brush, or cat can increase the traction of the bristles on the hair and help clump all the hair together causing it to pull out together into the brush.

What are the risks of misty and steam brushing?

There’s a more in depth article on these brushes here, but typically there’s a few issues with using water in a brush and on your cat:

  1. Comfort. Cat’s typically don’t like to be wet or sprayed with water. If you have a cat that enjoys getting wet then your cat may in fact be a dog.
  2. Effectiveness. It may appear that it’s removing more hair than any other brush. So far this is unproven. It appears to be more, but that can be attributed to the fact the water lumps it all together and also has pulled our healthy hair in addition to loose dead hairs.
  3. Risk. In most brushes, left over water, dust, dander and dirt can create mold on or inside your brush. This can be potentially life threatening to your cat which is what makes water, steam and misty brushes potentially the worst kind of cat brush you may ever use on your pet.

Water, Steam and Misty Brush Score Card:

Effectiveness: B
Daily Usage: B (depends on the brush type)
Safeness: F
Comfort: C (depends on the brush type)
Popularity: B+ (popularity is declining)

Key Takeaways

If you’ve made it all the way through this ultimate guide you can practically call yourself an expert in knowing the pros and cons of the best and worst type of cat brushes out there. Do you think we missed any? Tell us your brushing routine and what your brush drawer is full of! Share your new found knowledge with other cat lovers in the world and let us know what you think in the comments below or head back to the Bailey Blog for more awesome articles!

Cat Exotica

Great guide! I found the detailed breakdown of each brush type really helpful for choosing the best one for my Persian cat. Thanks for sharing such valuable insights!

Cat Exotica
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