this thing's incredible

My Cat No Longer Gets Hair Balls Thanks to This Comb

Photo: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The story of the greatest pet brush of all time begins in a Missouri pet salon named Groomingdale’s, where Angie Porter was perfecting the art of combing canines. By holding a turned-off clipper blade in her hand and dragging it lightly through the dog’s coat, she could remove vast quantities of loose fur otherwise destined to be shed all over the backseat of someone’s car. Using just the blade was cumbersome, though, so Porter and her husband hit upon the idea of attaching a handle to the blade, and invented the FURminator in 2002. The brand now encompasses shampoos, sprays, and nail clippers, but the standout is still the comb (you can get one for dogs, too).

The FURminator sounds simple, and it is: a metal comb, whose teeth are long enough that they can reach through your pet’s topcoat to any fur trapped or matted beneath it, attached to a plastic handle with a rubber grip. There is also a little button you can push to release the fur that collects in the comb. This simplicity (and the $30-plus price tag) makes people suspicious: Google “FURminator,” and you’ll find people on pet message boards asking, “Is it worth it?” The answer is almost always a resounding yes. Often, these yeses are accompanied by photographs of the truly astonishingly enormous heaps of fur these owners have dredged off their cats, which are often larger than the cats themselves, who also appear in the pictures, looking smooth and glossy and smug. The benefits are more than fur deep, though, and include preventing hair balls — if you remove your cat’s excess fur with a FURminator, he doesn’t have to do it himself with his tongue.

I received my FURminator as a birthday gift from my roommate, who had seen my disappointment when the lesser, cheaper combs I brought home for our cat, Stanley, failed to produce the desired effect. It was, and remains, the best present I have ever received, and I have since given it as a gift several times myself. (By way of saying thank you, people send photos of their first harvest of fur.) So great was my initial enthusiasm that I failed to heed the warnings — don’t FURminate too vigorously, or often — and soon, our cat developed a little patch of thinning fur. It grew back as soon as we followed the right rhythm: like the Pointer Sisters, Stanley prefers a “slow hand” and an “easy touch” (light strokes in the direction his fur grows) about once a week.

The result? The level of ambient cat hair in the apartment has been significantly reduced, and our green couch is no longer weirdly embroidered with white fur. Our lint-roller expenditures have noticeably decreased. And those weird, lonely tangles of dust and hair that lurk in corners and beneath tables? Not gone, but fewer and farther between.

FURminator Short Hair deShedding Tool for Cats

“My cats like their cardboard ice-cream truck from Famous Oto. It’s so funny to see one sitting in it. The other one usually then gets on top and bops the crap out of whoever is driving the truck, through the window. Famous Oto now also makes a Brooklyn House for cats.” — Kristin Perrotta. Read more about the best gifts for cats.

“If you haven’t heard of Da Bird, here’s the lowdown: It’s this ingenious piece-of-shit, flimsy plastic stick with a skinny elastic string that dangles a bunch of feathers from it. All cats go mental for it, but the feathers fall off, like, every time you use it because the cats are absolutely rabid and trying to eat the damn thing, and the string and stick break constantly, too. Still, it makes them so happy … so we buy the replacements.” — Kristin Perrotta. Read more about the best gifts for cats.

“The only scratching post any cat I’ve ever had used — and seemed to really like to scratch and sleep on — is the cardboard one that looks like the symbol for infinity, the PetFusion Cat Scratcher Lounge. It’s great because it’s cool-looking and you can flip it over when your cat annihilates one side. They can also play in the holes and bop each other in the face through them. Always fun to watch.” — Kristin Perrotta. Read more about the best gifts for cats.

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My Cat No Longer Gets Hair Balls Thanks to This Comb