Posted by: Ali Davis | December 1, 2011

The Completely Unscientific Cat Coat Survey

First off: I know this is not science. We all agree on that.

But it could be interesting, which is one of my favorite excuses for doing things.

It came up because I noticed a month or two ago that my cat Mae, whom I have owned/been the personal assistant to for 15 years now, grew a winter undercoat like I’ve never seen this year. She’s a short-haired cat, and for the first time I’m having to comb and even cut mats out of her fur. (You would be correct in guessing that neither of us is happy with this development.)

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that a cat’s undercoat can be predictive of the severity of winter weather, but Mae (and I) lived in Chicago for eight years and she never grew a coat like this. And we’re in Los Angeles now.

I should not that there’s only a 50% rate of unusual undercoating at my place. My other cat, Grendel, is quite sleek. However, he’s half Siamese, a breed not generally known for getting all floofy, and he’s only six months old. What the hell does he know? He can barely deal with seeing rain.

After another session of trying to get all the fur tufts out of Mae’s butt, I tweeted about her new coat and quickly got notes back from two fellow cat owners, one also in California and one in Oregon, whose charges had also gotten crazy huge for winter – and to a degree that the owners hadn’t seen before.

So I’m curious. In the interest of, well, not science, but of anecdotal information that could one day lead to science, or at least something interesting, please tell me:

Is your cat unusually furry this winter?

If not, how’s the fur situation relative to previous years?

Where in the world are you?

What is a song that you love, love, love, but hope no one finds in your music collection?

Wait, are you lying about any significant part of this?

Please leave your response in the comments on this post, right below there, for ease of information gathering and to avoid duplications from Twitter and Facebook and stuff.

I am totally serious about collecting this information into a Feline Fur Index.

Together we will bring important knowledge to the world. Or at least unimportant speculation that could lead to something-or-other. Which is, as I have mentioned, totally worth it.

Thank you.



  1. I am not a scientist (though I play one on TV), but last year our dog had an abnormally thick coat of fur — then the fellow who grooms him said he’s seen it a lot. Thinks it was because we were in a La Nina year (in Oregon) and it was a long, cold, gray winter. And we’re supposed to have another one coming up. Whee.

  2. Petruchio, the 17-year-old, is the same level of furry as usual…though maybe with some age-/health-/environment-change-related scraggliness. I live in Kansas City, which HAS been unseasonably warm so far. (Egon, the 9-month-old, has a thickish short coat, but nothing to compare it to.)

    I do love me some Davy Jones singing “I Wanna Be Free.”

    But it would be at LEAST a little disingenuous to claim to be embarrassed about that.

  3. Look, I’ve let myself go a little this winter, I know. I get that. But “crazy huge”? Come on. HURTFUL.

    (“Total Eclipse of the Heart.”)

    • Somehow I knew you would see this before I went back in and fixed that sentence.

  4. […] matter where you live, I want YOU (you) to participate in the Unscientific Cat Coat Survey. Living outside the United States? On another continent entirely? Hanging out in a hemisphere that […]

  5. I am in the mountains of Virginia. Delores, the cat that lets me live here, always has an unusually heavy undercoat. So, no difference from previous years. In spite of the insulation provided by her coat and an exceptional fat layer, she is sensitive to cold. Go figure.

  6. I’m confused; where exactly should I send the Mu Ch’i combed out fluffballs?

    I Want To Know What Love Is. Foreigner.

    Oh, the shame.

  7. You know usually I furminate the kitties in the late spring and start of summer. In the fall & winter they are fine. But this year they’ve needed to be deshedded about once a month.

    Also my fat orange cat who hates to have his nails clipped got hangclaws– sharp claws curling around toe pads on 4-5 toes. Several band aids and squares of gauze later (gauze was for the time my clipper nipped his paw pad but I lost more blood overall) he’s all better. But he’s 12 and I’ve never seen this happen even though he’s always hated being clipped.

    Maybe the cats are just making preparations for their occupation of Wall Street.

  8. It is summer in Australia and my mistress has also acquired an extra floofy coat. It is particularly warm this year, so perhaps the floofiness is to provide additional insulation from the heat, hence you are seeing this in California. Just a theory.

    Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and The Waves

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