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  #1  
Old 03-02-2012, 04:37 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Old cat's fur matted in clumps

I have a small, long-haired black female cat whose fur has gotten into matted clumps on her back. I found her and adopted her about 13 years ago and she was already grown then, so she could be as old as 15. She's never been affectionate and so I don't pet her on her back much. She'll let you stroke her head from time to time. Anyway, I noticed what looked like a ridge on her back and when I touched it, it was a big clump of fur. It's like she had given up on grooming that spot and it has turned into a big creepy dreadlock-y mass of fur (no disrespect intended to Rastas).

This happened to her once before years ago when she was younger. I took her into the vet and he cut out the clumps of fur. Now that she's older, a trip to the vet is quite traumatic for both of us. I wouldn't attempt to cut the clumps out myself. She's too skittish and I would be afraid of injury to her or me. In other ways, she's spry and lively. She runs through the house and can still jump up on the sofa and tables.

I'm inclined to just leave it alone. I don't think there's any way these clumps will go away by themselves, but are they doing any harm just being there?

Here's a picture of her in better days.
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2012, 04:54 PM
janis_and_c0 janis_and_c0 is offline
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From what I understand, bad matting can be very uncomfortable, even painful, for an animal. I'd get it looked into, somehow. Can your vet precribe a tranquilizer for her? That may make a vet trip less traumatic, or even enable you to cut the mats yourself. Yoo also might look into professional grooming for her. *Gentle skritches for kitty* What's her name?
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2012, 04:55 PM
florez florez is offline
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I never have this type of problem with my cats, but my havanese dog has long silky hair, which gets matted from time to time, and (according to my vet) does cause him pain and pulls at his skin, so I cut them off whenever I find any matted clumps. I use blunt tip scissors, and I would suggest waiting till your cat is napping, and then trying to cut it out, even if it is just a little at a time. Good luck.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:01 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Her name is Cleo. Thanks for the ideas. I could try to cut them out myself. We're not talking about small grape- or ping-pong-ball-sized clumps, but one or two long clumps the size and shape of half a hot dog. So it's not like they're connected to her skin by a small "stem." They're more like something along the ridge of a mountain, with the mountain being her back.
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:05 PM
Parenchyma Parenchyma is offline
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I don't think there's any way these clumps will go away by themselves, but are they doing any harm just being there?
They can. Matts can get so tight they literally tear the skin apart. They can be very painful.

The matts are probably due to arthritic stiffness in her back/neck/hips that make it too painful to groom herself back there, or something like hyperthyroidism that changes the hair coat a little and makes it easier to matt. If you can't deal with it yourself, you'll have to try a groomer or the vet. I'd recommend senior bloodwork as well if you go to the vet.

Clipping it yourself is indeed fraught with danger for both of you if she is fractious at all. It is way easier than you can imagine to slice her skin, in which case she'd need a surgical repair. One thing you might try if she would tolerate it is slipping a wide-toothed comb under the matt and cutting just the top half off, and only immediately over the comb. Then try to comb out what's left of the matt. Again, way easy to slip and cut the skin, or to get a little shredded yourself if she objects.
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:06 PM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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Use clippers, not scissors, with a short guard. If you ignore them, they won't "go away," and in fact will get worse over time as more hair gets caught in the tangles.
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:10 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Reading these replies (thank you), there's NO WAY I can do this myself... I'm going to call the vet.
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:32 PM
AnalogSignal AnalogSignal is offline
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Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Use clippers, not scissors, with a short guard.
Yes, the vet will shave the clumps out. After the cat is de-clumped, she needs to be brushed to prevent future clumping.

I had a cat who wasn't much of a groomer and her fur would clump in certain areas. I could snip one clump per day with scissors. I could do the first clump because she wasn't expecting it. After that, she would run away. It worked but it was a slow process.
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:37 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I have a cat that gets matted (he has the oddest coat -- it's like he's double-coated, with guard hairs on top and silky stuff underneath), and it's definitely a job for the groomer or vet. I usually end up getting my kitty a lion cut once a year.
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  #10  
Old 03-02-2012, 05:52 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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It's easier than it sounds. If you just cut across the clump, don't try to get between it and the skin, it will loosen up, allowing you to cut a little closer, loosen it up again, etc. One tool that's handy as you get nearer the skin is a cheapo letter opener like this.
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  #11  
Old 03-02-2012, 06:57 PM
Count Blucher Count Blucher is offline
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The 1st cat who ever chose me as his favorite had this issue. He was Huge (coloring of a tuxedo, size of a Maine Coon, temperament of a ...well... me...?). Brushing him just concentrated the clumps & made him bite. Enter 1 thick sweatshirt, three thick bath towels, and one old battery powered trimmer. After securing him as best I could & holding tightly with my left arm, I trimmed the clumps off as quick as I could with the trimmer (turning it on only at the last minute).

My blood loss was minimal (puncture wounds heal quickly) and the clumps were gone. Inside of an hour, all was forgiven as he realized he was rid of his rump-lumps.
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  #12  
Old 03-02-2012, 07:19 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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I declumped one of my cats. It was a combination of me tediously pulling each clump apart and then thinning them out with a ferminator. VERY time consuming. The cat was patient enough plus I rewarded her with lots of petting.
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  #13  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:40 PM
gracer gracer is offline
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When my lovely Tabby got older she became prone to clumpy fur. Sounds like she might've been like Cleo: fierce, independent and not very cuddly.

At one time she suddenly seemed to be going down hill and I found some dreadlocks on the belly (not a place she usually let me touch). When she was relaxed and sleepy I very, very slowly and painstakingly groomed them out. I did it so slowly, starting at the tip the way you would with tangled hair, she barely noticed. I would do a little snip if necessary, then a tiny bit of brushing. Every time she opened an eye and noticed me touching her belly I would get an angry nip, but I'd settle her back down and start again.

Maybe Cleo would be ok with that? Depends on the cat & the coat, I suppose.

Tabby recovered that time, and lived to be a very old cat at 21.
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  #14  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:59 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Reading these replies (thank you), there's NO WAY I can do this myself... I'm going to call the vet.
Thanks for that. I've dealt with countless well-meaning people who thought they were being careful, but still managed to slice and dice their kitty's skin. Cat skin is very easily folded and could be in places inside a mat that you wouldn't think it could be. It's also very easy to cut and is often in pieces before people realize the scissors have even cut anything.

A trip to the vet is no fun, but you'll be going anyway and with more urgency if her skin gets cut. Depending on how long it's been since she's had bloodwork done, your vet may recommend it (a senior panel) to make sure everything's OK, including her thyroid levels. Matted fur can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, as well as it could be simply arthritic old stiff kitty just can't reach any more. Even then, perhaps your vet could recommend at least a glucosamine supplement for the stiff joints.

Good luck!
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  #15  
Old 03-02-2012, 09:49 PM
janis_and_c0 janis_and_c0 is offline
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She looks like a Cleo. I have a tempermental beastie too. A little extra effort is required to love them, no? But they're worth it. Poor baby, I hope she is clump free soon!
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  #16  
Old 03-02-2012, 10:17 PM
FlyByNight512 FlyByNight512 is offline
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Originally Posted by janis_and_c0 View Post
I have a tempermental beastie too.
Goodness, that could be my family's cat. Who is also difficult. Does yours play the game where she gives you the cold shoulder for an hour or so after you get home?

I knew a golden retriever who got mats behind her ears. Her owners had a conditioner that they could spray in that made it easier to pick the mats apart. They still had to use scissors on the worst of it, though.
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  #17  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:00 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyByNight512 View Post
I knew a golden retriever who got mats behind her ears. Her owners had a conditioner that they could spray in that made it easier to pick the mats apart.
Bacon fat, maybe?? Then get the other dog to clear them out?



Seriously, y'all, thanks for these great replies. Cat people are the Best. (Dog people are good, too.) (I also have two dogs.)
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  #18  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:15 PM
RedWood RedWood is offline
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YAY Thelma! Let the vet demat her. Then teach Cleo about the brush, and give her brushpettings often.
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  #19  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:35 PM
janis_and_c0 janis_and_c0 is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyByNight512 View Post
Goodness, that could be my family's cat. Who is also difficult. Does yours play the game where she gives you the cold shoulder for an hour or so after you get home?*snip*.
No, he generally comes running to greet & sniff us. He's just fidgety and standoffish because I suspect he was mistreated before we got him. It's like he's afraid to be loved.

Last edited by janis_and_c0; 03-02-2012 at 11:35 PM.. Reason: spacing
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  #20  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:42 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Originally Posted by janis_and_c0 View Post
I suspect he was mistreated before we got him. It's like he's afraid to be loved.
Awww.... poor guy. He's so lucky y'all found each other.


For years Cleo wouldn't sit near me or anything. She'd sit on the back of a chair on the other side of the room and run if I came near her. But these days, her headquarters is on the back of the sofa where I usually sit, right behind my head. She even gives my head a gratuitous and unsolicited head-butt every now and then. I still have to be on guard if I pet her, as she will swat with only a nano-second's warning. She does seem to be mellowing a little.
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  #21  
Old 03-03-2012, 12:10 PM
FlyByNight512 FlyByNight512 is offline
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Originally Posted by janis_and_c0 View Post
No, he generally comes running to greet & sniff us. He's just fidgety and standoffish because I suspect he was mistreated before we got him. It's like he's afraid to be loved.
Aw, that is sad. My family's cat has never been mistreated, she just likes to pretend that she is aloof and doesn't need anyone... but it's a total lie, she's actually desperate for attention and will go to great lengths to get it. She's old enough now that she's abandoned the scramble-across-the-table-and-watch-them-come-running-with-the-spray-bottle game, but she's found other ways to make up for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou
Bacon fat, maybe?? Then get the other dog to clear them out?
Heh, not quite. She was an only doggie. What a mess that would make.
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  #22  
Old 03-03-2012, 12:47 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Bacon fat, maybe?? Then get the other dog to clear them out?
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyByNight512 View Post
Heh, not quite. She was an only doggie. What a mess that would make.
But what fun!
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  #23  
Old 03-03-2012, 01:38 PM
Taomist Taomist is offline
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This makes me very, very glad that we got two cats instead of just one. I've never wanted just one cat anyway, just for social reasons; I've always preferred raising two littermates than anything else. I hadn't even THOUGHT about all the grooming they do for each other, and they do, a LOT of it.

I hope the clumps come out ok; you're Cleo's beautician now Hey, over time, the gentle brushing might get her a little more accustomed to you being close without feeling the need to swat.
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  #24  
Old 03-03-2012, 06:27 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is online now
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I'm on my second Himalayan. Spectacular looking cats, but the fur clumping is unreal and seems to be a characteristic of the breed. As soon as the weather starts turning cool, fur (dense fine undercoat and long guard hairs) starts growing, and growing. By January the coat is as poofed up as it will get. In February/March - that is clumping season. One way or another (usually by sneaking up on him while he's asleep, I can clip away at the top part of the worst clumps, and work at them a minute at a time with a comb, off and on - he likes being brushed, but not if it hurts; sometimes I just yank out one half grown out clump a day with a comb, oww!, but just once a day - pull and run like hell) where was I - oh, by the time summer comes around he's a different looking cat altogether. He's SLIM, sleek, much lighter in color, not a walking rectangle of fluff like in the winter. Poor guy is hot in the summer, I always say I'm going to get him a lion cut, and this year might be the year...Shame there are very very few cat groomers around - but as said above, it's really a job for a vet.
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  #25  
Old 03-03-2012, 07:10 PM
Sarabellum1976 Sarabellum1976 is offline
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Yea, I have two Himalayans, also. The older one tended to get mats when he was younger, but now that he's well into "middle age" (11 years old) he seems to not have much of an issue with it anymore. They've never been good friends, really... I wish they would groom each other but I guess they never will.

Instead, the younger cat, age 8, gets matted this time of year. She has an extra-fluffy undercoat that is very cottony, and I just pull the mats apart with my fingers and actually go so far as to "strip" the undercoat by pulling it out. She loves the attention.

Anyway, OP, I think you're going to have to go take Cleo to the vet and have her clipped. Then you should be able to gently ease her into maintenance with brushing.

Warning: It will cost more than you think.
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  #26  
Old 03-03-2012, 07:52 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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We have an appointment on Monday morning at 8.
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  #27  
Old 03-03-2012, 07:56 PM
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I used to have a big BIG fluffy cat. He would matt up all the time and would bite and scratch if I tried to deal with his coat. Stuffing him in a cat carrier and taking him to the groomer made a big difference in the blood involved. It only cost 50 bucks and I got to keep my fingers. Money very well spent in my opinion.
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  #28  
Old 03-03-2012, 08:56 PM
Hey Hey Paula Hey Hey Paula is offline
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Cats can also develop open sores on their skin under the mats, from lack of air getting to the skin. My elderly calico has been having that problem lately. Once we get rid of the mat (either by cutting, combing or a combination of the two) the sores heal right up. She requires constant vigilance to keep the mats under control, because she's so old she doesn't groom very well and sleeps all day, poor kitty.
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  #29  
Old 03-04-2012, 04:47 AM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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My long-haired cat's matted clumps are from the pine tree he likes to hang out at next door. He rubs up against it to scratch and gets pitch in his fur, and the next thing I know one whole side of him is a pitch-smelling knotted clump.
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  #30  
Old 03-04-2012, 07:06 PM
LurkerInNJ LurkerInNJ is offline
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Spray her with Johnson's No More Tangles and comb the tangle from the bottom down, little by little. I used it on a curly haired dog (not mine) that was a mass of tangles and it worked great.
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  #31  
Old 03-04-2012, 08:08 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is online now
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Originally Posted by LurkerInNJ View Post
Spray her with Johnson's No More Tangles and comb the tangle from the bottom down, little by little. I used it on a curly haired dog (not mine) that was a mass of tangles and it worked great.
Don't spray stuff anywhere the animal can lick.
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  #32  
Old 03-04-2012, 08:16 PM
Taomist Taomist is offline
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Too funny; I don't recall our cats having any clumping issues, and we play with them all the damn time, so it wouldn't go unnoticed. But since this thread, I've twice caught the smallest one with a clump on her butt. Also, smelling of...potpourri or some such.

Took a couple days to figure out she was dragging her tail through the scented wax warmer, lol. Poor kitty. <snip snip>

Last edited by Taomist; 03-04-2012 at 08:16 PM..
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  #33  
Old 03-04-2012, 08:29 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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TBut since this thread, I've twice caught the smallest one with a clump on her butt. Also, smelling of...potpourri or some such. Took a couple days to figure out she was dragging her tail through the scented wax warmer, lol.
Pretty inventive-- clever kitty!
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  #34  
Old 03-05-2012, 10:06 AM
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Looking at the picture, her fur doesn't look all that different from that of a cat I used to have who was prone to mats in the same spot even as a youngster. (Just a lazy groomer, I guess.) Her fur was not especially long, but very very dense. I was usually able to pull the mats apart myself with my fingers. Given the size of the ones you describe, the vet probably is the best option this time, but if/when you notice them coming back, give it a try.
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  #35  
Old 03-05-2012, 11:09 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Very successful visit to the vet this morning!

Here is Cleo during the Event.

To the right is the pile of fur they removed. Almost enough to make a kitten if we could figure out how to do that.

The mats were really big and tough, but Cleo was a trooper and all is well now. The vet said her coat and skin looked very good. I got a nice comb and tried it out on her. Works great.

Thanks for all the replies and advice. Drinks and treats at my house this evening! Bring your kitty cats!
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  #36  
Old 03-05-2012, 12:23 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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Good kitty, looks like she didn't even need to be sedated!
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  #37  
Old 03-05-2012, 12:40 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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She didn't! She was so good... or terrified. She didn't hiss or bite. She was perfect.
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  #38  
Old 03-05-2012, 01:44 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Good kitty! My husband's parents have an ancient kitty who stopped grooming years ago - the vet told them they have to do it for her now. They have to comb her all the time to keep her (short fur) under control. I hope you and Cleo can work something out.
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  #39  
Old 03-05-2012, 06:06 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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I've had cats that had this problem as they got older. It seemed that they couldn't get to their backs to groom any more.

For the future, what I found worked best was to snip through the clumps, maybe half way down. Well away from the the skin. Then start brushing over the remains of the clump. You will probably find lots of non-connected fur (it's fallen off the cat, but got tangled in the rest) as well as dander. Keep gently brushing the area. You can slowly work out the loose hair that is causing the matting.
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  #40  
Old 03-05-2012, 09:37 PM
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aw, what a cute, good girl. i'll bet she feels better now.

love the watch band on your vet! very cool.
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  #41  
Old 03-05-2012, 10:02 PM
kjbrasda kjbrasda is offline
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pretty kitty! Looks just like my sister's Oreo.
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  #42  
Old 03-06-2012, 12:13 AM
FlyByNight512 FlyByNight512 is offline
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Good kitty! She does not look pleased in the slightest, but I suppose that's better for her than sedation. Hopefully grooming will become a good bonding time for the two of you. :-)
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