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There is nothing quite like running your hands through your cat’s fur as your pet and scritch them. Something about the texture of a healthy cat’s fur is unique, and it’s no wonder cat owners rave about how soft their pet’s fur is. But why are cats so soft?
Cats have soft fur due to age, breed, grooming habits, and diet. For exceptionally soft felines, a combination of good nutrition and healthy grooming habits has likely given them a particularly warm and soft coat.
There are plenty of evolutionary reasons for soft fur as well, and we’ll talk about some of them as we dive in.
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Reasons Your Cats Fur Is Soft
Soft fur might make cats more appealing to their human owners, but what about the cats themselves? Why did cats evolve such luxurious coats in the first place? How does your cat keep their fur so soft? Here are some of the main reasons your cat’s fur is so soft.
Soft Fur Is A Good Insulator
One of the main reasons cats have such soft coats is that soft fur is an excellent insulator. It helps keep your cat warm in the cold and also helps keep your cat cooler in the heat.
That’s because fur holds about the same amount of heat near the skin at all times. Cold needs to get through their fur to affect the cat, as does excess heat.
Softer coats are better at this job, along with thicker fur. Both traits make it easier for your cat to regulate their temperature.
Soft Fur Is Less Likely To Get Snagged
Softer fur can also be easier to navigate with outside. Cats can slip through brambles and around other obstacles much more easily when their fur is soft and smooth compared to rough or matted coats.
A soft, smooth coat might even help cats escape predators in an emergency! That’s because there’s not much to grip on a soft coat, while coarser coats provide more friction and grip points.
Fur Can Help Your Cat Slip Through Tight Spaces
Cats are designed to be able to slip through small spaces; their whiskers grow to about the width your cat needs to fit through a space.
Having soft fur helps with this, too, since it can help reduce friction in tight areas, making it easier for your cat to move and maneuver.
Your Cat Has Access To Good Nutrition
Growing a soft coat of fur takes a lot of energy and calories, so having a soft coat is a good sign that your cat’s diet works for them. Without certain critical nutrients, your cat’s fur would likely be a lot rougher and might even be a different shade or length as well.
Your Cat is Well Groomed
Soft fur also takes maintenance. If your cat has a soft coat, that means that there aren’t many tangles or dirt and that your cat is distributing the natural oils from their skin throughout their coat.
Cats do this by themselves when they groom, or you can help by brushing or even occasionally bathing your cat. Regardless of how it happened, an exceptionally soft coat is a sign of a well-groomed cat.
Why Are Cats So Soft Behind Their Ears
There isn’t a definitive answer to this, but we have some theories! For one thing, cat’s ears are highly mobile, so having shorter, softer fur near their ears helps your cat stay warm without getting in the way of moving their ears.
This shorter, softer fur may also interfere less with sound since it’s less likely to get in the way of your cat’s ear.
It’s also likely that there is more oil production near your cat’s ear to help prevent infections and keep your cat’s ears well hydrated and healthy. More oil means softer hair, especially when your cat is good about grooming its ears.
Why Is My Cat Softer Than Other Cats
There are a few reasons you have an exceptionally soft cat. For one thing, you probably have a naturally soft breed (more on that in a moment). Your cat also likely has a good diet that gives them all the nutrients they need for healthy fur. Lastly, your cat is probably very well-groomed. All three things contribute to softer fur.
But it’s also possible that your cat just won the genetic lottery and happens to be naturally softer. No effort is required.
What Type Of Cat Has The Softest Fur?
There is a lot of debate (and no small amount of bias) regarding which breeds of cats are the softest. Here are some of the top contenders, though:
- Siamese Cats
- Maine Coons
- Norwegian Forest Cats
Why Are Some Cats Not Soft
Some cats don’t seem quite as plushy as their compatriots, and that’s okay! Some cats are naturally less soft than others, no matter what you do. Other cats might need a diet change or more frequent brushing to help improve their coat quality.
If you’re worried your cat has a bad coat, especially if they are a rescue, consider talking to your vet about the best diet options and making the switch. Supplements for vitamins and oils can also sometimes improve your cat’s coat quality, making it softer.
How Can I Improve My Cat’s Coat
The two main things you can do to improve your cat’s coat are to improve their diet and help brush and groom them more often.
Diet is usually the more important of the two. Cats need a diet that’s high in protein with a controlled amount of carbs and fiber. Some supplements should also be included in their food, like taurine, since processed meats don’t always contain the same nutrients your cat would get in the wild.
Cats also tend to fare better on wet food than kibble. A mixed diet is also a reasonable option for most cats.
Brushing is the next thing you can do to help your cat’s coat. A once-a-day brush can make even the coarsest coats much more manageable.
Lastly, you may want to consider supplements, but it’s a good idea to consult with your vet before adding any supplements to your cat’s diet, especially if they are over or underweight.
Things To Consider
While diet and grooming can help improve your cat’s coat quality, some cats still won’t grow exceptionally soft fur. As long as your cat is healthy and happy, you shouldn’t worry too much about its softness.
However, the matting is a more serious issue and can irritate your cat’s skin and even collect bacteria, making them smell. If your cat is getting seriously matted, you should consult with your vet on options for managing the mats and helping reduce their frequency.
Senior cats also often have a decline in coat quality and an increase in matting. Diet changes and brushing can be significant for senior cats that are starting to show their age.
Hydration is also critical (and harder to maintain) as your cat gets older. Hydration treats and more wet food are both good for senior cats and help maintain their coat quality.
It’s also important to know that your cat’s fur quality as a kitten may not reflect their fur throughout their life. Like any other part of your cat, their fur can change over time.
A relatively coarse-haired cat might become softer as they get older, or a very soft kitten might have relatively coarse fur as an adult.
As long as their fur keeps them warm and comfortable, you shouldn’t worry too much about either shift. But, if your cat shows signs of temperature stress or starts developing bald patches along with a shift in coat texture, it’s time to see a vet.