How to Handle Matted Cat Hair

By | December 28, 2011

Sometimes finding the right grooming tool can make a difference. Here’s an article from that may be some help along those lines.


Cats are meticulous creatures but that doesn’t mean your pet can’t use help in keeping up its coat. Certain long haired breeds — such as the Persian, Himalayan, Maine coon, for example — are especially vulnerable to mats and need to be groomed daily. If you fall behind, your cat can develop knots in its fur that not only detract from the animal’s natural beauty but can also be painful to the cat.

The Right Grooming Tools Make a Difference
According to B.J. Fox, a prominent breeder of Persians and Himalayans in Greenbriar, Ark., “One should use a professional steel comb on long matted hair, not a brush.” Fox, who worked for many years as a pet groomer, prefers using a 7.5″ steel fine/medium comb. A different grade may be better suited to your cat’s coat.

Combing Techniques
As a pioneering breeder of chocolate and lilac Persians, Fox has seen her share of mats in her cats’ hair. She offers this tip: “The end tines of the comb will be your friend if you use them properly. Start at the end of the hair shaft at the mat and hold the base of the mat so that it does not pull the skin of the kitty. Gently use the end tine of the comb to separate the mat and dislodge it so that you can begin to work it loose, little by little, until you can get to the skin.”

Fox adds, “Don’t grab your kitty and comb from top to bottom, because it will hurt her. Begin by using a wide-tooth comb and then graduate down to the wide end of the fine/medium comb.”

For cases in which a cat’s hair is badly matted, Fox advises pet owners use a wide-tooth comb to remove as many mats as possible, paying close attention to areas behind the ears, under the front “armpits” and between the back legs. “Once you have dislodged the worst matted hair with the wide-teeth,” says Fox, “then bathe the cat. While the soapsuds are on the cat, use your comb, starting at the rump area of the body and work forward. The soap acts as a lubricant.” Whatever you do, don’t wet the cat when there are still big knots because the water will only make them worse.

When Combing Is Not Enough
If you are dealing with severe cat mats, Fox recommends using peanut butter or butter on the fur as a last resort. She says, “If your cat will not allow you to finish, that’s okay. The peanut butter or butter still tastes good to her and acts just like a hairball remedy. Even better, it is a natural conditioner to the coat and can later be shampooed away with a degreaser.”

If after trying these methods, your cat’s coat still seems hopeless, it is time to go to a professional groomer. There is a chance, that the cat will have to be shaved, but fur grows back quickly, says Fox. The full or partial shaving will give you a “fresh start at proper cat grooming.”

By Melissa Ehret

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