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How to get mats out of a long haired cat's fur

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Showing 1-25 of 72 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 11, 2011 3:25:02 AM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
My cat has gotten elderly and no longer grooms himself sufficiently. His long thick fur has become matted. I can't get the mats out even with daily brushing. Does anybody have a solution? Do razor combs work? Any ideas?

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 5:20:53 AM PDT
S. MARKS says:
The Luv2Pet Grooming brush is AWESOME! I have a Norwegian Forest Cat who seems to be a mat magnet! One side goes deep and grabs the mat, the flip side removes all the loose and dead hair. Amazon's out of them right now, so is their outside supplier. Here's the link to another site. . It's not cheap, but it's easy to clean and it works! Have a large paper bag handy the first few times you use it. You'll need it! I dont recommend anything I haven't used and sent to a friend!

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 6:51:49 AM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
Thank you! But doesn't that just yank the mat out painfully? Don't I need something with a razor in it to sort of shave the mat off? Thanks again for you advice, it is appreciated.

Posted on May 11, 2011 7:03:39 AM PDT
Myself, I ended up snipping the worst mats and burrs away from the fur of my Ragdoll. Then, regular brushing with a dense currycomb and an occasional Furminator session, and it's fine. I imagine a Norwegian might be more diffcult, with its longer and even denser hair, but the combination of those two combs really works.
I heard good things about razor combs, but having never used one myself, cannot say just how well they work. I'd say they should do the job admirably, precisely because they cut through the tangles without undue pulling. You might imagine that my Ragdoll isn't appreciative of tearing out matted clumps! But he adores grooming :)
I can see that Amazon carries quite a selection of Furminators. They are expensive, granted, but you won't need a second one anytime soon. Plus, you'll be *amazed* at the amount of dead hair you comb out.

Posted on May 11, 2011 7:05:18 AM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
Thank you again!

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 7:06:18 AM PDT
I don't think you *shave* the tangle. Rather, you cut it to strips that are then a lot easier to brush out. Otherwise, your cat would claw your liver out for all the pulling...

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 9:56:50 AM PDT
S. MARKS says:
The first time isn't pretty. Some of the bad mats will be pulled! I noticed on another reply to your problem that they recommended a Furminator. One side of Luv2Pet is the same thing. If you're so opposed to the possibility of pulling your cats hair, take him to a groomer and have him stripped. Then you'll be in complete control of the new coat that WILL grow back. Summer's a good time to do it! Then use a Luv2Pet fom then on for total coat control.

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 10:01:09 AM PDT
OldAmazonian says:
When our vet needed to trim some of our cat's matted hair, she just used high quality blunt-pointed scissors. The same method worked when our Samoyed hound picked up an astonishing load of burs during a wetlands trip.

Posted on May 11, 2011 10:36:26 AM PDT
Ashley says:
I a groomer and have a long haired cat I think it would probably be easiest if you used an electric razor to get rid of the mats (I've seen some pretty serious cuts from scissors) and then start from scratch. I also recommend using a metal comb and brushing him at least 3 times a week I know its kind of a pain but its the best way to keep them mat free.

Posted on May 11, 2011 11:29:17 AM PDT
S. Masse says:
Mats can actually cause the kitty pain when they get very dense. That means that grooming will be even more difficult. We removed the mats from an elderly cat by first bathing her and using a product recommended by the vet that like a creme rinse for cats. (Hint, put a folded towel in the sink or shower so the kitty has something to hang on to besides your skin). Then I used a wire hair pic (like humans use) to carefully tease out the worst mats. We only had to snip out a couple of mats. It took about 3 weeks of daily grooming (but not daily baths!) to get all of the mats out. Then we kept her brushed---every day. She came to really enjoy the grooming after the mats were taken out. I could hold up the brush and she would get up in my lap and purr while I brushed her. Be gentle, talk in a soothing voice and don't act like she is being punished.

Posted on May 11, 2011 12:38:01 PM PDT
nonpareil says:
My dear departed Maine Coon boy, Carnelian, would get matted fur from just THINKING about water. The mats were especially bad under his armpits. Luckily he would understand and lie quietly when I needed to help him out although he was one strong, aggressive fella. So I was able to use scissors to cut the mats out. The less pulling the better. I understood perfectly because I have always suffered tangly hair and my mother used to pull too hard. I was very careful not to snip skin and it was odd how grateful he would seem.

Posted on May 11, 2011 3:49:01 PM PDT
I've found that 'thinning shears' used by barbers and some beauticians work very well on our old long furred boy. The blunt tips on them prevent any possible cuts to his delicate skin. After cutting into the mat a couple of times I use a barber's comb to work on the mat.
Though occasionally it is necessary to cut the mat off especially on his pants area.

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 5:03:02 PM PDT
Cut them.

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 6:08:21 PM PDT
Donna Larsen says:
If you are in a warm climent or if the cat is indoors only consider having him professionally shaved every few months. Some groomers will even do house-calls!

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2011 6:09:31 PM PDT
Donna Larsen says:
If you are in a warm climent or if the cat is indoors only consider having him professionally shaved every few months. Some groomers will even do house-calls!

Posted on May 11, 2011 6:21:05 PM PDT
ShoopDeDoop says:
Cats with long fur need to be professionally groomed at least once a year. That includes a good "haircut". But in the meantime, try to brush him everyday to prevent matting. However, to remove a mat that currently exists what I have done in the past is to use a little portable handheld beard trimmer (like a Wahl beard trimmer) to cut out the mat.

Posted on May 12, 2011 1:30:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 12, 2011 1:32:38 PM PDT
I used to be a dog groomer, and I worked with girls who had long-haired cats. They would use their dog grooming clippers to shave off the mats of their long-haired cats. These were usually underneath, or near the leg joints. They could have the cat totally shaved underneath, and the cat would still have a beautiful long coat on top.

As a dog groomer, I also saw a lot of matted dogs with long hair. I remember one lady had her kids sit on the floor in front of the TV every night, and brush their dog. That worked for the top and sides, but the dog still had mats under its legs.

So all I can suggest is to take it to an animal groomer who will do cats, and get it shaved underneath, at least. Or invest in a short or summer cut all over the animal, as other posters suggested.

If your cat is too elderly to undergo the rigors of a grooming, call up your vet. Some vets will gently sedate an elderly animal, then do everything from cleaning their teeth, to clipping nails and cutting out mats, without stressing that elderly animal. Some vets even partner with a groomer on the premises, who has experience cutting hair off of sleeping animals.

Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2011 8:47:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 12, 2011 8:51:12 PM PDT
There's a demattting tool you can use. It works for loose mats, but my cat (Maine Coon) sometimes get some really tight ones that nothing works on. I have to just cut those out with regular scissors.

But for my cat what works best is to have him completely shaved for the summer. And "start over" every year and brushing him with a, I think it's flea comb (double row of teeth) once a week once it grows back end.

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2011 8:50:00 PM PDT
My long haired cat (Maine Coon) never matted UNTIL I used a furminator on him. And he hasn't matted in the same way since.

Posted on May 13, 2011 12:00:38 AM PDT
Beck says:
Even short haired cats can get mats. I have both and quite seriously, if they have a gentle demeanor, buy yourself a pair of professional (human) hair cutting scissors. You might already have one. I bought a pair because they'll cut through ANYTHING, perfectly. Simply have your kitty lie on one side, sweet talk to him, and making sure you DON'T get the skin (because if you do your cat is going to go hide and you won't see him/her for a least a week) and gently cut them out. You needn't go fast like a lawn mower either. As long as you are not hurting the cat, take all the time in the world. If your cat doesn't have a gentle demeanor, it's probably best to let a professional do it.

Posted on May 13, 2011 2:36:08 AM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
Thanks everybody for all your suggestions. As for the suggestion that I take the cat to a professional groomer, I only wish that were an option, but it's not as I have been looking for one and don't think there are any where I live.

In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2011 1:02:02 PM PDT
Hi, Celestial,

I've never had a cat that would be willing to go to a groomer. :) My experience is mostly with stray, scared or injured cats who wouldn't do well with electric clippers, or strangers. I use the same method that Beck described. I agree with S. Masse that dense mats can be painful to the kitty. I would much rather get rid of them painlessly and quickly, even if it means the kitty has a choppy haircut for a little while.

While I'm holding and petting or brushing and talking to the cat, once it's very relaxed, I try to just gently separate the mats from the rest of the fur with my fingers, then cut the mats as close to the skin as possible (without risking getting too close). I do it quickly in gentle `snips' small enough that they won't yank the skin and the cat doesn't really notice what you're doing. If the cat objects or gets tired of it, I stop and just do short sessions, maybe even one per day. If the mats are very thick and dense, I do it a bit at a time, working from the outside in. Once you get them mostly cut off, you can then just gently comb or brush the short hair that's left to remove the rest along with any dead, flakey skin that can be caused by a tight mat that's been there for a while. Once the cat realizes that this doesn't hurt and just associates it with a pleasant time with you, it gets easier.

I haven't tried professional (human) hair scissors. I use a pair of small, inexpensive Fiskars scissors that look similar to these:

.Fiskars 94917097 No. 5 Blunt Tip Scissors

They work well because they're small and easy to maneuver without fear of accidentally hurting the cat. The blades are very sharp and cut through the fur easily without pulling if you don't try to cut too much at a time, and the blunt points prevent the possibility of accidentally hurting them.

I've used this method on an injured three-legged cat who couldn't groom her back and had thick mats like cigars or dreadlocks all over her back and was afraid of being handled, just short sessions starting at the ends in the beginning. As she realized that it was making her feel better, she started lying down and offering her back to me to let me gently cut them, gently petting and talking to her the whole time. I've used it on a wild male stray who wouldn't agree to being handled, using quick little snips, a bit at a time whenever he was distracted by eating, and I've used it on an older cat with fine, flyaway fur, who also started offering his sides and back to me when he realized that it was making him feel better.

I would never try to comb and yank or pull them out because I don't want the cat to have an unnecessary bad experience or develop fear and resist having it done. I've never tried anything like the Furminator, which feels hard and heavy (and expensive) to me, or the Luv2Pet, or a razor comb. It just seems kinder to me remove them as quickly and painlessly as possible. Fiskars also sells this inexpensive sharpener so you can keep the blades sharp:

Fiskars 98547097 SewSharp Scissors Sharpener

As for keeping the mats from coming back, have you experimented with different types of brushes to see what works best and what the cat likes? In my experience, every cat seems to prefer a different type of brush. I know that the very soft brushes don't work well to keep long, fine fur from matting. Hope this helps. Good luck.

Posted on May 13, 2011 3:39:10 PM PDT
doris d says:
We have a long-haired siamese (balinese) and we got her used to being combed as a kitten when it was a relaxing time with no mats, and did this nearly every we use a little trimmer called a "peanut" trimmer (I think this is a sideburn/finishing trimmer for humans) Wahl Professional 8663 Peanut Cordless Clipper/trimmer which has a low buzzing noise to trim her paws and problem areas, and use a furminator 2-3x week all over to remove excess hair and to prevent mats, and a fine comb works very well on underarms, etc, where she is tender (smooths but does not remove much hair). This is usually a 2 person job, one person holds and distracts her (with some diverting toy) and the other person combs/trims, but you could also use a towel to wrap part of the cat and get a gentle hold of him. My cat tolerates this if it doesn't take too long when I trim her myself. The trimming is the best for back of legs, etc, where she does not like to be brushed, you can shorten but not trim it all away and you can trim even if there are mats there. Good luck!

Posted on May 13, 2011 5:02:30 PM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
Thanks Doris. The cat allows daily brushing and does not require distraction or holding. He gets brushed every day, but he gets matted anyway!

In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2011 5:52:02 PM PDT
Mama Celeste says:
Thanks Vianne! The cat is totally docile about grooming, and yes, I brush him almost every day, but he still gets mats! He will allow it, though. I tried clipping them out but they are so close to his skin I can't get under them. I think I have decided to take him to the vet for a shaving, and start again from scratch!
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Discussion in:  Health forum
Participants:  37
Total posts:  72
Initial post:  May 11, 2011
Latest post:  May 7, 2016

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