Questions for those with long-haired cats

I’ve always had domestic short-hairs and up until now have had few problems with matting. Recently I fostered and eventually of course became the proud slave to a long-haired girl.

After having the mats cleaned up professionally I bought a brush specifically for long-haired breeds and have been mostly religious about brushing her daily. She adores it so there is no problem about letting me brush as long as I can stand it. Clearly I am missing something because all the mats came back and brought friends. On the advice of my vet I am taking her to the groomer tomorrow and having her shaved (note that I am carefully avoiding the obvious jokes here).

So my question is how do I keep these mats from coming back or at least reduce the number of them. Any clues?

Obligatory link to picture of said cat. Sorry for the quality - I’ll get better ones after tomorrow’s procedure.!

My hairball, Ziva, has longer hair, and I’ve never had to deal with mats on her. I’ve tried brushing her a few times but she’s not too keen on that. Taz will groom her and I know she grooms herself by the not-infrequent hairballs I find on the floor. Maybe it’s due to the hair itself - is one type more inclined to mat than others? Wish I had something better to offer.

What a beautiful cat! Though I’m biased, as she looks EXACTLY like my little girl, with her twin brother’s coloring.

Both of ours are long-hairs, just like that one, but I’ve never had to groom them. I did start doing so sometimes a little while ago just to help them with hairballs, because they do get them often, and no wonder!

Is there a chance one of your other cats will help her groom? If not, then I wish I had more to offer too. I have heard wonders about the Defurminator, maybe it’s worth a shot?

I have two long-haired kittehs, one of which looks very much like yours. The gray cat has that long silky hair that never seems to mat. The orange guy, however, is a whole 'nother story. He was a stray that wandered into our yard, so I have no clue about his lineage, but I say he’s part Norwegian Forest Cat. It’s like he has a double coat, with a coarse waterproof outer layer and a very fluffy, soft undercoat. He mats like crazy. I try to keep on top of it with regular brushing, but it seems like the minute I miss a mat or two, it’s all over. I seem to end up with a shaved pussy (I know you were avoiding that joke, but someone had to say it) every year, and I just need to budget for it. He HATES going to the groomer, so if an annual lion cut seems to be the way to go for you, I suggest you do it before the mats get really bad. It has to hurt to have all those mats pulling on tender skin.

ETA: Even if an all-over shave is not the way you want to go, I highly recommend regular “hygiene clipping” to avoid a massive case of poopy butt.

Be sure when you’re brushing that you’re getting all the way through the coat. Get a brush with dull or rounded tips on the bristles, not a wire “slicker” brush like you’d use on a shorthair, so you can feel comfortable putting a bit of pressure on it. As you’re brushing, feel with your fingers to find any mats just beginning to form. Longhairs are especially likely to form mats around the neck, on their haunches, and on their bellies. If you do find a mat, take care of it while it’s small, combing to get it well clear of the skin and snipping it off with scissors.

If your home is very dry, adding a little humidity might help. Cats with that particularly fine, soft kind of coat tend to get static buildup in their fur that will contribute to matting.

Give a Furminator a try. It’s done wonders to keep our cat from having hairballs, it might help with mats too.

Keyser Soze, bless his heart, is long haired and we have bought a furminator (see post above). It helps, but even so we need to get him shaved at least twice a year. That entails a trip to the vet and putting him under. It gets very hot here so we do it for his comfort but also to assist him in his own grooming.

Just a plain old comb is all you need to get the undercoat. Combs are better than brushes for long haired cat fur, brush bristles tend not to reach the undercoat very well. A comb will get under small mats and just pull them out. Make sure not to get a flea comb, those tines are too close together, but a regular metal-tined comb.

I’ve had one similar to this for about ten years now and it always gets those newer, starting to form mats on both my current long haired cat, a previous long haired girl who is no longer with me, and a short haired one who has motor skill issues that prevent her from grooming herself very well. The latter girl can be a - challenge - and her mats tend to be denser and better formed, but a firm tug still gets them right out.

One bit I have to address because it was mentioned above - do not try to trim mats out with scissors. I don’t care how much luck anyone has had previously or how careful they are, please just don’t. If you feel the need to DIY, get a $30 electric clipper from your nearest big box store, but don’t try scissors. I’m a vet tech at an ER and I can’t even begin to count how many dogs and cats I’ve seen over the years who had owners who used scissors on them. Laceration repairs are always far more expensive than your own clippers or a trip to the groomer! I’m a pro and I won’t go near my cats with scissors.

But really, if your cat likes the brush, she will like the plain old comb, and it will get the mats out from the undercoat. One good going-over weekly will probably be just fine, I can usually get away with two weeks, YMMV and all.

I think there are longhairs and then longhairs.

Kitty K crossed over Monday at 17. She was (we think) part angora and an obsessive groomer, but now and then would get just one mat. Usually it would come out when we currycombed her. The thing was that her coat was ungodly silky soft - not that Persian puffy fluff. It had body.

Another vote for a Furminator undercoat brush. My cat is evidently the world’s smallest Norwegian Forest Cat (6 lbs full grown) and she has that long grey hair. I use a Furminator on her and it’s astounding how much hair comes off with each stroke. It’s very good at getting those small snarls before they become big ones. I follow up with a regular wire kitty brush.

Luckily she loves all the brushing. 10 minutes and I’d have enough spare fur to stuff a pillow :smiley:

Petromalt is good to help avoid hairballs, my cats have always really enjoyed the taste.

My vet also warned me about trying to trim fur with scissors. Cat skin is very delicate and you can slice your animal open pretty easily by accident.

I found out the hard way about scissors. Luckily the cat I discovered it on was ok and completely unperturbed. I was much more freaked out than he was. That said - I didn’t give up scissors completely, I just adjusted my method.

The best investment I ever made was a set of Wahl rechargeable electric clippers. Now I’m no groomer, and we don’t care much about appearances around here so YMMV.

Back from the groomers. Mollie is happy, purring and more energetic than I’ve ever seen her. Poor girl, the mats must have been causing her some pain. The groomer said she was the best-behaved cat she’d ever worked with.

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I have a furminator and now that there is nothing for it to get caught up on we may have some luck with that. Mollie is not very friendly with the other cats, so no help with grooming. Apparently her hair is the oily kind with an underlayer that mats pretty easily, so I can probably count on needing to get her shaved a couple times a year in spite of my best efforts. We’ll see how long I can keep her mat-free as it grows in.

I have a long-bristled brush with soft tips that should help. I may try using the electric clippers on her myself and see where that gets us.

Seh ate and ran off to sleep, so no “after” picture yet.

We have blunt nose scissors that we use for this with no ill-effect. The key here is to make sure that you have moved the matt at least a half an inch from the skin. Then have one human hold the cat still. The other human holds the scissors in one hand and holds the matt away from the animal and snips it very carefully.

However, my long hair cat is pretty docile and is just happy to be getting attention.

ETA: somthing like this is what we use.

I’m sorry about K, she’s so pretty, and I love her attitudanal look, lol. Sounds like she had a good, long life; thanks for sharing her with us.

I’ve had a couple of long hair cats. One had the long silky single coat hair. The other had duel layer, courser fur.

After putting up with mats and hairballs, we started using a shedding blade.

We would either lay the cat down on the biggest beach blanket we had, or take him outside, and then vigorously groom him with the blade. We could brush him so firmly that the cat would dig his claws into the towel/ground to keep from sliding around. From one medium sized cat, we would get a loose ball of fur almost the size of a soccerball. If we were outside, it looked like it had snowed in our yard.

The cat loved it. He would purr the whole time, and when you stopped, he would look up at you like “Dude, why did you stop?”.

Anyway, I’d suggest trying to find one with a leather handle. Ours never wore out/broke, but the one I linked, with a plastic handle, has people commenting that the plastic breaks.

Hey, I passed “Use of Scissors” class in kindergarten and even “Use of Pointy Scissors” class in 2nd grade, and I have the certificates to prove it.

I trim mats out of my dogs (and have trimmed mats out of previous dogs and cats) exclusively with scissors. In fact, I don’t use a clipper to groom my two poodle mixes; I do it all with blunt-tipped scissors like those perfectparanoia mentioned. We used to send our elder dog to a groomer for clipping until she came back with several bloody lacerations because the groomer thoughtlessly used a clipper over some skin tags. My dogs often look a little fashion-challenged, but I’ve never caused them any kind of injury.

I’ve said my peace. People can take from it what they will. I do see cats with scissor accidents far more than dogs, and a small percentage of dog lacerations do come from grooming salons. P(cough)sMart has a corporate account.

We routinely trim our long-haired Chantilly cat w/ round-tipped craft scissors so we never get mats. We don’t wait for his hair to get long (unless it’s winter), we just go at it every 4-5 weeks and make him look like he has mange. He doesn’t care, lays there purring, then rolls over nice so we can get the other side. We’ve done this since he was about a year old and rarely get within an inch of his skin w/ the scissors.
I’d love to know where the OP lives, we couldn’t find anyone in GA or the FL panhandle to shave him.

Here he is, just before he got a summer clipping.

Our cat mats up like crazy if we don’t brush him multiple times a day starting around January. The furminator is good if used along with a long bristled brush that gets down to the skin. This year we managed to have about 60% less matting than usual. Most years his whole back end becomes matted undercoat covered with his long silky fur.

We do trim his mats if they get bad but it’s time consuming because he gets a little crabby. When I cut his mats I wait until the mats have grown away from his skin by at least 1/4 inch. I never pull on the mat and I also cut a little at a time and make sure I can see the blade through the section of fur being cut. Cats have very thin skin and pulling up even a little will pull up skin that’s hard to see and easy to cut. I use mustache trimming scissors I found at the drug store by the nail scissors, they’re small and have blunt tips. I cut in thin lines so I can always see the opposite blade.