Cat Matted Fur: How To Treat Mats Without Scissors

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It’s the curse of long-haired cats: cat matted fur. Mats are tricky because different cats have different temperaments, so while one kitty might love being combed at home for hours on end, another might need a trip to the groomers to get rid of their mats. The key to dealing with mats is getting into an effective brushing/grooming routine.

Scissors are one option for dealing with mats – cutting through the middle of the mat and then gently working it apart with fingers and comb. However, even when pet owners are careful with scissors, there is still a risk of nicking a cat’s sensitive skin, especially if you have a squirmy cat who doesn’t like grooming. A lot of pet owners prefer to avoid this risk altogether by not using scissors or other sharp tools to deal with mats. Here are some alternative tips and tricks for getting rid of mats without cutting them out:

Dematting Brushes for Cats

Since brushing is the best way to prevent mats, you need to find a good brush or comb. There are a lot of different options to choose from, so experiment with a few until you find one that works for your kitty. Here are a few suggestions:

There are endless varieties of combs and brushes available online and in pet stores, and remember you can also look into dog brushes and combs or even human ones as well.

Cat Brushing Routines

Again, you can pre-emptively treat mats by brushing your cat daily, and there are strategic times of year to consider when developing your brushing routine: for example, brushing more regularly during shedding season can help prevent hairballs from forming. However, some groomers recommend avoiding combing too much during the springtime because of problems with static.

When and how you approach your cat for brushing can also be important. Some pet owners suggest brushing and grooming during nap time if your cat sleeps through it. You can also use a slow process of acclimation for cats who really dislike brushing. First, give the cat time to just see and nuzzle the brush; rub it against the scent glands on their cheeks until they get accustomed to the smell. Then slowly and gently begin brushing, rewarding your cat with treats periodically for calm and accepting responses.

Other Treatments for How to Unmat Cat Fur

There are a few other ways you can proactively prevent mats or make them easier to loosen in addition to brushing. Try some of these tricks:

  • Natural looseners – Treating a mat with natural household substances like baby powder, corn starch, coconut oil, or olive oil can help loosen the mats and make them easier to brush out.
  • Humidifier – Keeping a humidifier in the house can combat springtime static and make it easier to brush your kitty without getting a shock.
  • Diet – Feeding a cat dry food has been linked to more mats, whereas some Ragdoll cat owners have found that higher oil content in a cat’s diet (i.e. fish oil capsules) have helped prevent mats from forming.
  • Calming treats – If your cat positively cannot stand grooming, you can look for natural calming treats infused with chamomile to soothe them while you brush.

If the process is just too stressful to do at home, you can always take your cat to a groomer for mat treatments and to see if your groomer has any recommendations for daily maintenance. Lion cuts are one option through a groomer, though some pet owners prefer to avoid them because of concerns about a cat’s hair growing back properly.

If you’re nervous about sharp objects around your kitty, you are not alone. Scissors might not be the best option for getting rid of mats in cats who tend to squirm or put up a fight, but fortunately there are a lot of other grooming options to try before resorting to cutting out mats.

What are some ways you get rid of cat mats without cutting them out? What prevention tricks work for your kitty?

Comments (8)

  1. I have long haired dogs (habit… Down to only 1 dog now and hating it), and I am a master at mats.
    Many of the tools pushed for ridding mats with damage the coat unless you know how to use them with expertise.

    A mat is just like fabric, the hair grows in one direction and loose hairs weave in, making a thick fabric.

    The only tools you need are a pair of scissors with a blunted/somewhat rounded pointy tip and a comb with fine and wide teeth.
    Isolate the mat, then with the scissors, enter it as close to the skin as possible and cut away from the animal IN THE SAME DIRECTION AS THE HAIR WOULD NATURALLY GO; this way you do not damage the existing coat.

    If the mat is a big one, make cuts in the same direction on either side of the original one. Use the comb on the wide side and no deeper than halfway down the mat, remove a good chunk of the mat; it will come easily if you cut through enough of the mat. Move down closer to the skin and take out more, then comb from the skin. Now use the fine part of the comb and remove any small knots.

    Repeat for any other mats.

  2. Wonderful post, Jenny! Luckily, Miss PSB has not had any major matting issues so far… She gets a few teeny tiny mats in her ruff (cuz it is so fluffy and long) but they are easily combed out with a small flea comb. And, we keep the back end area of her trimmed pretty close because it can get very messy and matted back there if we don’t. She has very fluffy pantaloons and a very fluffy bottom. That’s about it!

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

  3. Makes me cringe just thinking about cutting a mat because I saw the result that one lady did to her cat at the vet one time. She thought she would get the scissors and use the pointed end to just run it up through the kitty’so belly. So she did that. Not only did it cut the mat but she also cut through the paper thin belly skin from her neck to her abdomen. Will never forget the sight of that poor cat filleted open like a fish and the poor lady crying with so much guilt that she had inflicted such pain on her kitty. So, would caution anyone not to use scissors unless it is absolutely necessary and then to use ones with a blunt edges. All that drama can easily be avoided with daily brushing/combing which is a great way to bond and spend time with your kitty followed by their favorite treat.❤❤❤

    1. That is why I said from the cat’s skin out. Poke through the mat and cut away. I use folding scissors that have a rounded pointy end, and I have groomed many dogs besides mine, and never had a yelp or cut on or from any dog.

      1. You are so right Gale. That lady had no idea how to undertake such a job and was mortified that she had hurt her kitty so terribly. It burned a lesson in my mind not to ever use anything except blunted scissors if a mat were to ever form. Have used that method on several rescues that have come here before and it was very effective. ♥♥♥

    2. OMG, Teresa, THAT must have been so HORRIFYING to see! That poor, dear kitty and the owner! What a terrifying ordeal for both of them! Thanks for sharing how dangerous it can be to use sharp edged scissors trying to cut out a mat! <3 <3 <3

      1. You are welcome Patti. It was terrible looking at that poor kitty and worse seeing the owner so upset. Both were senior citizens and she was trying to do the best she could. She just didn’t realize how close those mats sometimes grow right up to the skin line and how crepey and fragile her older cats tummy skin was. It was like cutting through tissue paper. ♥♥♥

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