Long haired cat breeds are known for their luxurious coats. Often thick and plush, these coats can run the gamut in length from just long enough not to be short haired to more than two inches. Long haired cats are found in different breeds as well as mixed breeds. At times, the distinction “long haired” is simply a variety of a breed that also can have short hair.
Long Haired Cat Breeds
It’s hard not to love a long haired cat. Their thick, luxuriant coats are so very soft and pettable! Of course, most of us will happily pet any cat that will let us. But long haired cats definitely have a special allure.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no hairless cats. Even the so-called “hairless” Sphinx cat actually has a thin layer of very fine, short hair covering its body. In terms of cat hair length, all cats are definitely not created equally.
Some cats’ hair is quite short. Others are truly deserving of inclusion in the category of “long haired cat.”
Even among so-named long haired cat breeds, some long haired cats have longer hair than other long haired cats! There is really quite a range.
In fact, if you want to get truly technical about it, you could separate the domestic longhair cat into long haired, semi long haired and short haired cats.
But what makes a long haired cat have such long hair to begin with?
Why Do Long Haired Cat Breeds Have Such Long Hair?
Scientists are just as curious about what causes types of long haired cats as are cat owners. Now research studies have isolated a specific type of genetic mutation that results in cats with long hair.
With further studies, researchers have narrowed down the most significant factor to a gene called Fibroblast Growth Factor 5 (FGF5), or FGF5 for short.
With the help of this new genetic information, researchers have also been able to explain why two cat breeds, the Manx cat and the Scottish Fold cat, can have both short haired and long haired kittens too!
But to keep things simple here, we are going to focus on some true breeds of long haired cats.
Today we will start with an overall look at the health of long haired cats, including some specific problems that might be expected. After that, we will cover different breeds of cats with long hair, and follow that up with caring for a long haired cat.
Long Haired Cat Breed Health
Long haired cats are generally just as healthy as short haired cats. This is true because there isn’t much of a commonality in terms of health problems across all long haired breeds.
The cat breeds that we have included in this article, for example, are generally healthy. However, there are some potential issues, such as breathing problems with a Persian cat. But that comes from the flat face of the Persian breed, not from the long haired coat!
The main concerns with long haired cats revolve around grooming.
Long haired cats may be more likely to get fleas and other bugs, and if they do, it’s less likely that the fleas will be noticed quickly. But there are ways to handle this probability. We’ll discuss that a bit more later on, under the sections on care and grooming.
The second common concern for a long haired cat is hairballs. But that may be less of a worry than you might think.
Long Haired Cat Breed Hairballs
It’s quite common to worry about cats getting hairballs, and even more common to worry about this issue with longer haired cats. After all, they usually have twice as much hair as a short haired cat!
Does that mean they will have twice as many hairballs?
Well, to start with, hairballs are really less of a concern in themselves than as possible signs of other problems. A cat should not frequently be coughing up a hairball; if they are, it could be a sign of something like increased grooming due to skin irritation, or even a motility disorder.
So if you see signs of multiple hairballs in a 24 hour period, we definitely suggest that you contact your vet.
And yes, it is true that long haired cats are more susceptible to hairballs, simply because they have more hair. Even so, experts state that cats shouldn’t be having more than one hairball a week — and some vets say that only one or two a year should be normal for a healthy cat.
So while your long haired cat may be a little more likely to have hairballs, it’s still at the same basic level of concern as with a short haired cat.
Long Haired Cat Breeds With Coat Color Variations
If you’re looking for long haired black cat breeds, you can definitely find those listed here.
More interested in long haired gray cat breeds, or long haired orange cat breeds? Those are listed here, too.
In fact, there is a wide and wonderful variation of color when it comes to long haired cats. So your long haired black cat breeds may also show up in gray or orange, or sometimes mixes of all of the above!
We’ll address the color variations as we go along. Just keep in mind that, if you’re looking for a specific color of long haired cat, you may have to hunt through several different kittens even among a single breed.
There are lots of long haired cats around, but if you want a guaranteed length and type of fur then you are best off choosing from one of these popular long haired cat breeds.
Each of these unique and much-loved long haired cat breeds can make a great pet choice.
Once you make your decision, we would love to hear about which cat breed you choose and how you knew that was the cat breed for you!
Maine Coon Cat
The Maine Coon Cat has a striking coat of hair. They are designed to withstand harsh weather, with so much fur that even their feet are well padded! A large cat, adult males can weigh up to 18 pounds.
His coat is normally smooth yet shaggy, and often long in length. The most profuse hair is at chest and tail.
The pattern of his fur has distinctive dark colored rings around the tail. Colors vary widely, and include solid colors, bi-colors, and even tabby varieties.
They have fabulously friendly temperaments in general, and are very owner oriented. They’re often being described as similar to dogs!
This is great choice of cat if you are intending to spend lots of time at home keeping him company.
Domestic Longhair Cat
If there was an official “mutt” in the refined world of cat breeding, the Domestic Longhair cat would be the frontrunner for the title. The main reason for this distinction is because there is no clearly traceable breeding lineage for this longhair cat breed.
The closest approximation of a bloodline is a popular story that the domestic longhair cat was chosen to accompany the Pilgrims to the New World due to their skill in hunting rats and mice. (Although cat lovers know it is really because no cat owner could stand to be separated from their feline sidekick, even to colonize a new world!).
Because there is no clear purebred lineage to help calculate coloration, it is common to see tremendous color variation in domestic longhair cats, from a long haired white cat, to a black long haired cat, to a long haired tuxedo cat, or even a long haired calico cat and more.
But by far the most common coloration (and the most popular for many cat lovers) is the long haired tabby cat, with characteristic tiger-like dots, swirls and stripes.
These cats tend to look exactly like what you would think a proper cat should look like. They are of medium weight, medium build, with fun and outgoing personalities, and a rugged, “survivalist” nature that makes them great indoor/outdoor cats.
American Longhair Cat
The American Longhair cat comes from a long history of champion cat breeding lines that actually began when the American Shorthair cat was crossbred with the Persian.
A regal-appearing cat breed, today’s American Longhair cat can exhibit a great deal of color variety, from a gray long haired cat to a long haired tabby cat.
Most adult American longhair cats will weigh in at 12 pounds or less. They tend to be fairly mellow and adaptable in their personality, making them great family cats.
The famed fur of the long haired Persian cat can grow to a whopping eight inches in length, making for a full-bodied, fluffy coat you can’t help but “ooh” and “aah” to see.
The Persian temperament is most often described as “sweet” and “easygoing.” They do like their routine, however, especially when it comes to meal times.
This particular long haired cat breed will need frequent and meticulous grooming, both due to hair length and thickness. This can take some significant investment of time, which not every cat fancier happens to have. So it is important to think this through before committing to a Persian.
They also have some potential health problems related to their structure which you will need to carefully consider.
Long Haired Siamese Cat
The long haired Siamese cat is its own self-contained bloodline. But it also maintains close genetic ties to related breeds such as the Javanese Siamese cross, the Balinese Siamese cross, and the Himalayan Siamese cross.
As well, some color resemblance helps maintain the relationship across these related breeding lines. It is not uncommon to see a long haired gray cat, long haired orange cat, or long haired blue or lilac cat all related in some way to the classic Siamese long haired cat.
Siamese cats are very vocal, playful, smart, and curious. They will bond closely with you, so this is not a cat for someone who won’t be at home much.
They are wonderful kitties, and can make excellent family pets for the right home.
The British Longhair cat, or “Highlander” as some have nicknamed them, is an up-and-coming breed of long haired cat that is becoming more popular as it becomes more well known. In fact, this cat was only just recognized as a show breed in 2009 by The International Cat Association (TICA)!
These beautiful, plush-coated cats are some of the most coloration-diverse among cat breeds. It is not uncommon to see a long haired black cat, white long haired cat, long haired tortoiseshell cat, or even a orange long haired cat that are each also classified as a British long hair cat.
The British Longhair can grow to be 18 pounds. They have an easygoing, independent temperament, making them a great choice if you can’t be in constant attendance.
But don’t forget that as one of the long haired cat breeds they will need regular focus on that coat.
Long Haired Cat Breed Grooming
Did you know your long haired cat may have as many as 130,000 hair follicles per square inch of skin at any one time? That is a lot of hair to groom!
In addition to protecting your kitty from the cold, your cat’s coat does all of the following:
- Gives him sensory information in both the outer coat, which contains the guard hairs, as well as in the whiskers, which are the tactile-sensing hairs.
- Offers protection from wind, rain and sun.
- Helps produce essential nutrients.
- May change seasonally in both thickness and length for protection from the heat or cold.
This can give rise to different grooming needs based on the time of year. But it’s good to keep on top of grooming your long haired cat, to make sure that mats and snarls don’t develop.
Take the time to help your cat get used to being brushed when he is still a kitten. Be gentle and move slowly, talking to your cat and petting him as you go. Grooming can be a great time to bond between the two of your, as well as being an important part of keeping your cat healthy and happy.
You can find loads of top tips for grooming your cat here. And we have some brush suggestions, as well.
Best Brush For Long Haired Cat Breeds
When it comes to selecting a cat brush for long haired cats, not all cat brushes are created with the long haired cat’s special grooming needs in mind.
As well, not all long haired cats devote equal attention to grooming all areas of their long fur.
This can cause mats to develop quickly in certain areas. Near the tail is a prime source of trouble, for example.
These long haired cat grooming brushes and brush/comb sets will make short work of mats, remove loose hair, and keep your kitty’s lovely mane healthy and smooth.
Each brush listed here is rated best brush for long haired cats with rave reviews from happy long haired cat owners. Here, there is no single best choice, but rather just the choice that you and your cat prefer!
Slicker Brush For Long Haired Cats
This slicker brush for long haired cats from K9 Connection is highly rated. It’s also self-cleaning, which is a helpful time saver.
The FURminator deShedding Tool for Cats comes in small (for cats less than 10 pounds) and large (for cats over 10 pounds) and in two versions for short and long haired cats.
It comes vet-recommended for detangling mats and removing them before an internal hairball can become a health issue. The manufacturer states this tool will reduce shedding by as much as 90 percent.
The brush is self-cleaning with the push of a button called the “FURejector.” The brush itself comes in a bright purple color.
Dematting Tools For Long Haired Cats
This Pet Republique pet dematting tool for both dogs and cats is specially created for long haired pets.
It comes with different sizes, amounts, and varieties of teeth so you can pick and choose what will work best for your cat.
Delomo Pet Grooming and Gentle Deshedding Brush Glove is a hands-on option. The owners of long haired cat breeds praise this unique grooming glove – one owner says her long haired cat wouldn’t permit grooming until she got this glove set!
You can choose from a set of blue or pink gloves. The gloves are made of natural, eco-friendly material and each has 180 silicone tips for grooming and massage.
You can use this glove wet or dry and there is five-finger separation so no area of your cat will go un-groomed. The manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee.
Another choice is this pet dematting comb by Hertzko for dogs and cats. This special comb/brush is designed to help you easily and painlessly remove tangles, mats, knots, and loose hair from your cat. The teeth are rounded so they won’t ever harm your cat’s skin.
The comb also comes with an anti-slip ergonomic grip for you (especially handy if you have to groom more than one long haired cat!). The manufacturer offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
Caring For Long Haired Cat Breeds
Having a cat with long fur is an important added responsibility to being a pet owner. So let’s take a look at caring for a member of the long haired cat breeds.
If you are reading through this article while trying to decide whether you should bring home a short haired cat or a long haired cat, it is important to know about some key differences in their care requirements.
For instance, because of their long hair, a domestic longhair kitten or cat may be more prone to attract vermin, including ticks, fleas, and lice.
Also, it may be harder for you to initially spot these pests and treat them early because they can easily hide in the long fur on your cat.
So this will require more regular at-home fur checks as well as possibly trimming long haired cats coats for their own health and safety (and your time and sanity).
You may also want to opt for what is called a “vanity cut” around the tail to shorten the hair for easier cleaning in case your cat has elimination issues.
This can be particularly helpful for long haired kittens and senior cats.
Take a look at our guide to the best cat hair clippers if you are considering this.
Choosing A Long Haired Cat Breed
There are so many wonderful longhair cat breeds to choose from. The breeds we’ve listed here are just a representative sample of true long haired cats. Remember, there are other varieties that come from mixed breeds and which may very well have the same luxurious hair as these breeds!
Whether you opt for a purebred from a breeder who can provide a verified bloodline or you choose to rescue a “mutt” who is in need of a “forever home,” your longhair cat will completely depend on you for her health, wellness, and socialization needs.
For this reason, it can be a great idea to take your time before you choose your “forever cat.”
To feel certain in your choice, it can be a good idea to talk with the breeder or shelter about the cat’s personal history. Observe the longhair cat in interactions with other cats and pets, and have some personal play time together. Learn about any special health or grooming needs of that cat breed. And don’t discount your gut instinct!
If you do all of this, you are sure to make the best possible choice!
Do you already have a long haired cat breed in your life? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- Hawes et al. Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters
- O’Neill et al. Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England
- Hairballs In Cats, VetWest Animal Hospitals
- Seven Facts About Hairballs, Mental Floss
- Kehler, J., et al, “Four Independent Mutations in the Feline Fibroblast Growth Factor 5 Gene Determine the Long-Haired Phenotype in Domestic Cats,” Journal of Heredity, 2007.
- Pollmeier, M., et al, “Effective treatment and control of biting lice, Felicola subrostratus (Nitzsch in Burmeister, 1838), on cats using fipronil formulations,” Journal of Veterinary
- Fries, W.C., “Cat Nutrition for a Healthy Coat,” Pet Web MD, 2009.
- Pierce, J.P., et al, “Sympathetically induced changes in the responses of guard hair and type II receptors in the cat,” The Journal of Physiology, 1981.
- Ryder. M.L, “Seasonal changes in the coat of a cat,” Research in Veterinary Science Journal, 1976.
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