Need advice: Matted fur on a long-haired cat.

I would appreciate any advice I can get on how to unmat the cat. His entire chest is just a clump of fur. He’s covered with clumps and I believe they are interfering with his mobility, as it seems his front legs are knotted to his torso. Taking him to a groomer is not an option. However, he is one of the most patient, easily handled cats I have ever seen.

I have taken scissors and cut off the clumps I found that I could get a comb between the fur and skin. Some of the clumps are flush against the skin and I can’t get the comb in there. I’m afraid of cutting him.

Any ideas?

Do you have any electric clippers?

That’s what I was going to suggest.

You could start on the ones you can’t get a comb under by cutting off the part you can reach. That might help the mat loosen up and later you could get under it.

Will he tolerate you applying oil to a clump to see if you can untangle it? Try just one at first - you don’t need oil all over your whole house. Is Mane n Tail detangler non-toxic?

The easiest thing is probably to take him to the vet so they can tranquilize him and clip him. Mats hurt.

Then brush him every day. Good luck.

Why is taking the cat to a groomer not an option?

My friend tried to do a home groom on her dog - ended up accidentally cutting his skin, requiring stitches. The vet bill was more than what it would have cost to have the dog done by a professional groomer, though they did finish shaving what she started.

Whatever you do, be careful, cats have very thin skin.

Don’t try scissors unless you are sure you can stay away from the skin. Electric clippers is the only way to go; however, you’ll probably need to give the cat several breaks and get some of that spray for the clipper blade. I’d prefer the option of having it done by a vet, especially if the animal would be knocked out anyway. For example, dental work.

I love the Dope, but seriously, intelligent people ask too many questions!! :rolleyes: :smiley:

The vet and the groomer are not an option for a simple reason: lack of expendable funds. This is an outside cat that we feed due to the fact that his mother, whose name is (hint…) Squatter, had him in our yard. Dunder (short for Dunderhead) was from the first litter she had here. A few litters later, I paid the $85 to have her spayed, in order to not be tempted to leave her in the country to be eaten by coyotes, and to not have to support more litters.

I work for minimum wage. (After taxes, spaying Squatter cost me almost 13 hrs wages.) There are inside cats whose medical attention I have been putting off in order to…pay rent and utilities. None of the cats starve and they have heated shelter outside in the winter, but groomers for matted fur is a luxury I can’t afford. :frowning:

Cut off as much of the mats as you can without cutting him. Keep doing this daily or weekly until they are all gone. Brush/comb him daily from now on. My cat loved being brushed. My parents fed her too much, so she became too fat to groom part of her back, but I cut the mats off and brushed her regularly after that.

I had a long haired cat that would get those wicked mats from time to time- if they are actually impairing mobility you really seriously have to bring him to be groomed somewhere- maybe call the local shelter and see if they work with a vet that might do it. Or get a price and ask for some money here, hell I’d chip in for sure.

On my cat, I’d put some oil (coconut oil or whatever) on my fingers and try to work it under the mat. I’d cut as much as I could NOT close to the skin then use a super fine comb to try and loosen it and remove it. Often the clumps would come out as if they’d already detached from the skin and were just hanging on by more dreads. After the first time I did this (it was my exes cat and he didn’t take care of her) I grabbed her once a week and again ran some oil through her fur and gave her a good fine tooth combing. She never had issues again.

There is cat detangling spray you can buy at a pet supply store. Similar to the human detangling spray (but I wouldn’t use the human stuff on a cat).

So, get yourself a wide tooth comb, and a fine tooth comb, some of that spray, and some small scissors. Slide the fine tooth comb sideways under the mat, parallel to the skin, and carefully cut the matted fur above the comb (the comb will prevent you cutting kitty’s skin). Then use the wide-tooth comb to gently comb through the matted area, gently separating clumps with your fingers and gently pulling the loose hair out. This will take a lot of patience on your part and on the part of the cat.

Be very careful with the skin under the matted area - cats can get skin lesions under their mats due to lack of air reaching the skin. Right now I only have short-hair cats, but our first kitty was a long haired calico, and she got bad mats when she was an elderly lady and couldn’t easily groom herself.

Get someone to help hold the cat while you cut so it cannot move suddenly and get cut while you work. Put the comb between the skin and the mat and snip the mat away with scissors. If you can’t fit the comb behind the mat, make small snips into the clump to separate it into smaller sections and pinch them between your thumb and finger so you can feel where the cat’s skin is, then cut so you are cutting next to your fingers, not the cat.

You can get cheap human clippers for $12 or so at Walmart or similar. They will work fine while they are new and sharp, though they won’t last as long or be as efficient as expensive clippers. Be sure to use blade lubricant and check the blade often and stop to let it cool as needed.

A trick I learned when I had Angora rabbits: when using scissors to cut out a mat, angle the scissors so that the top blade is against the skin and the bottom blade is angled away from the skin. Much less likely to cut the skin.

If you call a local cat charity, they might well be able to help you out - not by taking the cat, but by loaning you clippers and helping you with the task if you take the cat in there (it’d be much easier with two people, and you say he’s calm but they’re used to cats who aren’t, too). It’s certainly worth a try calling them.

Take the cat to the vet. That’s what I did.They did not have to sedate Cleo, even though she was never a sweetie cat or anything. The vet just cut out the club’s of fur. She looked pretty good afterwards-- no big balls spots or anything. There was no way I could have done it myself.

After, I still never brushed her, and she never let it get that way again.

Good tip. My niece just got an Angora rabbit in similar condition, and that’s all they did - just got in there with the scissors and snipped carefully away. Looked a bit of a wreck just after the shave, but no damage done, and fluffy’s beauty is recovering.

Will the cat tolerate being washed? If you’ve snipped into the mats, even if you haven’t got rid of them entirely, a bath will probably loosen out the fur some more.

I always use scissors when I need to remove nasty clumps from my long-haired cat. If you are careful, it should be fine. If there are clumps you can’t get the scissors under, cut off the outer part of that clump. That will weaken its structural integrity, and the cat may be able to work it out after that. If not, try again a few days later, when that hair has had a chance to grow out a bit, and the clump to loosen a bit.

Be patient. Some removal is better than none.

Good luck.

Matt’s are weakest vertically – at right angles to the skin. Get some** blunt ended** scissors and cut down through the clumps. This makes them lose their structural integrity.

Given the situation, this is really good advice.

If things get really rough and you’re too short one month, DO NOT BE SHY. Hit up a local pet food bank or try Random Acts of Pet Food (I participate there and everyone gets fed).

First, thank you all for your advice and well wishes. Matted and (possibly) in pain or not, I think I’m going to wait until it’s a little warmer outside before I do any more snipping on him. It’s getting down to 17 degrees tonight, and he’d probably rather have the protective mats than be bald out there.

I have a pair of tiny cuticle scissors, and they’d probably be my best bet. I’ll snip off what I can, then reassess the situation. Maybe I’ll break out the SO’s clippers, but I’ve never used them and I’m not sure how he’ll react to the noise.

He will tolerate being given a bath - he had a mishap with the firepit when he was a kitten, and was given baths then to get the dead skin off the pads of his feet. He has also been given baths to alleviate the fleas, until I discovered Comfortis, and decided that it could be worked into the budget! I HATE fleas.

He’s a lot less fluffy after a bath, maybe snipping the mats off would be easier while he’s wet…? I’d have a better idea of where the skin and the fur meet.