Originally published April 21, 2016
Cat matted fur can be a real problem for cat owners and it can be difficult to keep mats at bay or get rid of them, especially if your cat is particularly sensitive to brushing or clipping. But there are plenty of solutions for cat mats, it’s just a matter of experimenting with different courses and seeing what works for your kitty.
We have received a lot of inquiries about mats over the last few months, so I have linked to the posts on our social media channels about them and included more of the general tips that have come about herein.
Here are a few tips and tricks to try:
Sometimes brushing a cat regularly is enough to prevent cat mats from forming and comb out any mild ones. It’s good to establish brushing habits as early as possible in a kitty’s life before it gets harder for them to become accustomed to it. Many owners recommend using a reward system to slowly acclimate a cat to brushing. Start by simply showing the cat the brush, letting him or her nuzzle it, and then rubbing the brush near the scent glands on the cheeks – giving treats for accepting movements from the cat. Then progress to alternating between a few brush strokes and a treat during brushing sessions until your kitty becomes more comfortable.
Some cats are particularly opposed to grooming under the legs, but there are some tricks and strategies that might allow you to reach the knots in that area. Try a change in position – for example, having the cat sit or stand on your legs while you carefully try to reach these areas, paying attention to their reactions and respecting when they want to stop. Some owners also recommend finding a “sweet spot,” perhaps on the cat’s chest between their front legs, and starting with pleasant brushing there before moving slowly to more problematic areas.
Home Grooming Tools
Having the right tools can make all the difference in dealing with matted cat hair and keeping your kitty calm, one of the most important tools being the type of brush. Here are a few different options for brushes that Ragdoll cat owners have recommended:
- rotating tooth comb
- moulting comb (with long and short teeth)
- flea comb
- dog brush
- silicone oven glove (unusual, but it pulls out loose hair easier than combing)
When brushing is not enough, sometimes cutting the mats out is the next step, but this can be difficult to do without damaging the cat’s skin. Here are a few different tools to try for this job:
- nail clippers (to avoid cutting the skin with nail scissors, but you can still clip their skin)
- Professional Salon Cutting Comb Carbon Fiber Hairdressing Hair Brush Sharp Tails – Victoria wrote in, “Hi, just wanted to share this with you and any struggling Ragdoll owners. I’ve found the best tool for getting matted lumps out of Ragdoll’s fur. I use a Toni and Guy Tail comb. It’s not great for an all over brush but it’s really good for dematting. I find if I hold her fur with my fingers near the root then comb the matted fur gently mine Ragdolls fine with it. If the mats bigger the tail of the comb poked into it can help tease it apart.”
- electric mustache trimmer
- seam ripper for sewing
- Here’s a photo of Charlie after me using a seam ripper to remove some of his mats. WARNING – you can cut their skin with a seam ripper, as you can with scissors, so BE CAREFUL not to cut their skin.
- FURminator – some owners recommend this, others warn that this can remove the delicate hairs instead of the top coat and possibly nick the cat’s skin. I (Jenny Dean, operator of this site) do not care for the Furminator.
Research and test out different types of tools to see which one you think your cat might go for and would work for you. I do use scissors on my cats’ mats – I ALWAYS make sure I know exactly where their skin is and then I cut through the mat and brush the rest out. But you have to be ridiculously careful. My vet has told me about how many cats they see from owners using scissors to cut through mats.
Natural Mat Loosening Treatments
Sometimes brushing or cutting mats out doesn’t do the job, either because the mats are too dense or because your kitty simply won’t tolerate it. If you’re at this point, you can use things like coconut oil, baby powder, or a few other substances to loosen up mats before getting out the brush:
- Coconut oil – ruffle the cat’s coat with a little extra virgin coconut oil on your hands, and then let it soak in for about an hour or so. This will make it easier to loosen mats, and the oil is perfectly safe for both cats and humans to ingest – your cat might even like the taste and the healthy fats it contains!
- Baby powder – sprinkle some baby powder onto the really tricky mats and gently work it in with your hands. Do it just a little at a time until the mats start to loosen.
- Humidifier – this might help loosen up staticky fur during the winter.
- Good pet shampoo/conditioner – sometimes a good shampoo and conditioning once a month with a quality product designed for detangling can help keep the mats away, for instance Tropiclean, a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, or just a detangling spray like FURminator Hairball Prevention Waterless Spray.
These treatments might not prevent mats entirely, but they might help make the brushing process a little less painful.
Your cat’s diet might also be affecting the condition of their fur. Dry food has been linked to matted fur problems, and some owners have reported a positive change in fur health after switching away from a dry food diet. You might also start adding more oils into your cat’s diet – for example, fish oil capsules – if they prefer this to coconut oil treatment.
Professional grooming might be a good option if you are unable to do anything else at home, but be sure to ask about your groomer’s methods. Some use sedatives while grooming, which a lot of pet owners don’t want for their cats. If you do find a good groomer, a sanitary clip once a year to get rid of the really stubborn cat mats can save you a lot of trouble. Another easy fix for summertime is to get your Ragdoll a lion cut so the short hair won’t mat. You can also consult your vet and a groomer about other professional and at home treatments for mat removal.
Cat mats can be a real problem for cats and their owners, and dealing with them by brushing alone can be a painful experience for both parties, so try out a few different tricks with your kitty to see if you can find a grooming solution that works.
How do you deal with matted cat fur? What kind of brushes or home treatments have you had luck with? What kind of treatments does your groomer use? Share your stories!
Below I have listed brushes and combs we have reviewed with the videos to go with them, in case it helps you find a good one.
Equigroomer Cat Brush – Read our review or buy it here
JW Grip Soft Cat Brush – Read our review or buy it here
JW Pet Gift Soft Slicker Brush – Read our review or buy it here
Shedmonster – Read our review or buy it here
JW Pet Cat Comb – Read our review or buy it here
JW Pet Gripsoft Rotating Comfort Cat Comb – Read our review or buy it here
JW Pet Shedding Blade for Cats – Read our review or buy it here
Safari Cat Comb Review – Read our review or buy it here
What is your favorite cat brush and why? Please leave comments below and be sure to include:
- Brand of cat brush, i.e. JW Pet
- Model of cat brush, i.e. Slicker Brush
- Price you remember paying for it – or link to where one can find it online
- Why you like it for your Ragdoll cat or if you don’t have a Ragdoll – what is their coat like and why do you like it?
- Can’t decide on just one? That’s fine – list as many as you’d like.