Pet Shedding Combs are a Ripoff


My wife and I’ve bought numerous pet shedding combs over the years, grooming our cats without the thought of a ripoff ever crossing our minds. For that matter, I doubt the manufacturers of shedding combs consider them a ripoff in any way, shape, or form; most likely, they believe they’re producing the best possible products for the job at hand.


Let’s back up a few years. When Pam and I began homesteading on our off grid southern Cochise County, Arizona, acreage in April of 2009, we had one leopard gecko and three cats. Having no fur, the gecko required no grooming; Missy simply molted every now and then, shedding her skin rather than giving it any fancy treatment. At the time, neither Kitten Precious nor Moe Key Man presented much in the way of fur matting problems, either.

But the elderly Green Eyes, the black female who slept with me and away from the other cats for health reasons–Kitten Precious not being inclined to share Moe Key with any long haired Jezebel regardless of age–yeah, Green Eyes had fur problems. Matting to the max. By late summer, a good half of her body was so matted up that combing it out became a literal impossibility. Fortunately, she stayed calm and didn’t even twitch when I got out the Wahl clippers and shaved her down almost to the skin.

Fast forward to 2015. Green Eyes passed on in June of 2010, Moe Key Man following that October. Gato, the kitten who replaced Moe Key, is now five years old. Kitten Precious is nine. Both of them have developed “summer matting” in recent years.

Until recently, we used a “curry comb type” of metal shedding comb to work out the mats. It does the job…but slowly, ever so slowly. Great loads of downy fur come out, as fluffy as can be. There seems to be no end to it, though when there is an end, our babies got brushed with a hair brush that used to belong to Pam’s mother. The de-matting process could at times require hours of effort per week–which the cats thoroughly enjoyed but which I can do without. (Pam likes grooming them, but she’s allergic to cat hair when it gets up close and personal like that, so there’s a limit. Most of the grooming is mine to do.)

The pet shedding comb we used for years.  We'll probably never use it again.

The pet shedding comb we used for years. We’ll probably never use it again.

The hair brush that used to belong to my wife's mother, now used for finishing brush work when grooming our cats.

The hair brush that used to belong to my wife’s mother, now used for finishing brush work when grooming our cats.

This summer, the issue finally came to a head one day when I couldn’t locate the shedding comb shown above. Pam had used it and returned it to a different nail on the wall than I used–and being a guy, I was blind to its existence from that moment forth. So…what to do? Pam’s ailing body has her sleeping much of the time; I certainly wasn’t about to wake her up…and then it hit me.

I grabbed the five inch pocket comb out of my Dopp kit–an old hard rubber Ace product I’ve carried for twenty years or more–and went to work on Kitten Precious’s most horribly matted fur. The coarse toothed side of the comb worked beautifully. K.P. didn’t complain even when I pulled fairly hard, though of course I “rolled it over” as needed to work out the tangles with minimum struggle.

The results blew my mind. Ten minutes of coarse toothed comb work, followed by maybe two minutes of fine toothed follow up, and Kitten’s fur mats were completely outa there!

Gato’s fur cleaned up the same way, and he seemed to appreciate the “sticky fur” removal as much as Kitten did.

The old Ace pocket comb I've carried in my Dopp kit for decades--and also the finest cat fur grooming tool ever made.

The old Ace pocket comb I’ve carried in my Dopp kit for decades–and also the finest cat fur grooming tool ever made.

The pocket comb brings out the fur in a much different format than the “official” pet shedding comb. Where the curry comb style eases out veritable clouds of downy fur, the comb brings it up in concentrated, tight, compacted style. I didn’t think about writing this post until after “scooping” our the first comb full of fur from Gato’s back this morning, but here’s a photo showing the second (less concentrated) scoop, gathered with the fine toothed side of the comb.

Note: Kitten Precious’s under-fur is as downy as that of any rabbit, but Gato’s is a bit coarser, though his total fur coat is silky smooth to the touch.

The pocket comb with a "tug" of formerly matted fur from Gato cat's freshly groomed body.

The pocket comb with a “tug” of formerly matted fur from Gato cat’s freshly groomed body.

The discovery is one of those that leaves a guy wondering whether to pat himself on the back for figuring out a better way…or smack himself on the forehead for taking so long to see it. Either way, however, the facts are simple. Buying a commercial shedding comb is a ripoff in the sense that (a) it costs more than a cheap pocket comb, mine having cost something less than one dollar all those years ago, (b) it takes an hour of grooming with a shedding comb to accomplish less than the pocket comb can manage in ten minutes, and (c) there is no need to buy a separate comb for the cats; the one you already carry in your Dopp kit will do just fine.

8 thoughts on “Pet Shedding Combs are a Ripoff

  1. I would get the cats their own comb anyway. We have a couple of brushes for the dogs. One of them would work really good for the cats too. It is a brush on one side and a wire brush on the other side. It pulls the extra hair right off of Rufus, with his long hair. He sheds a bunch this time of year. Not as much here as when we lived in a colder climate.
    Blake has enough poodle in her that she does not shed much, but she sure enjoys getting brushed and it keeps the mats down. Best thing we can do for her, is keep her clipped. She enjoys the cooler feel with the short hair and we do not need to brush her to keep her unmatted.

  2. We did get the cats their own comb–an entire set, actually–but I keep reverting to using mine. I can see where Rufus would need a wire brush, all right…and also where keeping Blake trimmed would be a blessing for all concerned. Trimming the cats is strictly a last ditch option, though; I’ve yet to know the cat who appreciated the “lion look”.

  3. I used a brush on my Weimeraner, an old brush we had in the house, and she loved it. Her short hair was not much of a problem.
    And, for my short haired Siamese, I would use my comb…:-) I guess it’s a guy thing.
    Here is a link for an offer of an ACE 6 pack for under ten bucks…. there are cheaper ones around, but I haven’t seen them in over a year.

    Hey, Ghost, are you planning to have someone brush a big bear or two young wolves in the long awaited upcoming chapter of your book? Just thinkin’, of course! 😀

  4. I had a cat that got fleas so bad in Florida I had to take her to work and get my boss to use the big horse clippers on her so I could get rid of the fleas. Poor kiki was a grey cat with a very thick double coat only her head and tail weren’t clipped down to the skin. She never fussed about that …it was the wash rinse repeat baths afterward to get rid of the fleas. And yes I flea bombed the house while we were at the track. I just used a brush or a plastic curry comb that could be attached to a hose or a regular comb on her. She never went outside and in over 20 years never had any mats on her… Now horses manes and tails…… Oh what stories I could tell…. No more tangles works good for that…even baby oil helped.. Check to see if your kitties have dry skin if so a little oil added to their food may help with the mats they should have oil from their skin the help reduce mats so if its dry…sorry over 20 years caring for race horses always gives me ideas. And other pets..

  5. I’ll have to try this, Ghost. My male Himalayan has very course hair that gets matted up quite frequently. In fact, I usually have to take him to the vet to get them shaved off in lion cut style. Using a good old pocket comb would be so much cheaper. I wonder if he’ll let me do it? He loves being brushed, but the brush doesn’t get the larger mats out.

  6. Manny: Thanks for the Ace pocket comb hunt-down. Don’t know if there’ll be any fur brushing in the coming chapter, but you’re touching on something there, in one way or another…hope to have that chapter published this week, finally.
    Mary: Those are all good ideas. Pam does apply some conditioner every once in a while, but I’m leery of that due to the fact that cats groom themselves and each other and swallow the stuff. Which might not be a problem with the right oil(s), but I’d be hesitant to do much diet-wise right now. Our older cat, Kitten Precious, was vomiting a lot and not doing that well until we started both of them on Science Diet, Sensitive Stomach, cat food. Since then, she’s a bit perkier and manages to produce a hair ball with nearly every hurl–and the upchucking is much less frequent, too. We’re thinking that not being able to bring her hair balls back up was her main health issue prior to Science Diet.
    Sha: If he loves being brushed, he should be okay with the comb, too. The technique is just like you’d use when combing snarls out of your own hair, that is, push/pull deep and hard enough until there’s enough resistance to make you think any more would be too much, then “roll the comb over” while still tugging a bit. It’s pretty amazing, seeing the lighter mats easing right up out of the darker surface fur (both of our babies having dark fur) as if magically levitating.

  7. Ghost, my Siamese never had dry hair problems, so I didn’t give him any oils. He was picky with his food, and my grandmother taught him to demand some Virginia Ham every afternoon at around 3pm… spoiled rotten.
    But my Weimeraner did get itchy dry skin, and I read a vet guide suggesting I cook some sardines for her about once a month, and it worked great. Interesting to note that meat fat did not make for shiny fur, but the infrequent sardine meals did, without my dog smelling fishy. Oh… we cooked my dog’s meals, no leftovers, no nibbling off the table, so we didn’t have the dry food issues.

  8. Interesting, Manny. The first Weimaraners I ever met were two older dogs belonging to my then brother in law in southern California. Don’t know about sardines, but their owner was cooking lamb and rice for them on a daily basis.

    I don’t even cook for myself on a daily basis….:)

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