Cat Matted Fur: Tips and Tricks to Remove Cat Mats

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Originally published April 21, 2016

Ragdoll Cat with Rakom Cat Grooming ToolCat 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:

Brushing Routines

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.

 

Looking for the best cat grooming brushes and products to deal with matted fur on your Ragdoll cat?

You can find videos and more info on our favorites further down in the post, but here are a few of our favorites to check out: 

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:

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 LALANG Professional Salon Cutting Comb Carbon Fiber Hairdressing Hair Brush Sharp Tails Anti-static Styling Accessories– 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.
    Seal Mitted with a Blaze Ragdoll Cat Charlie with seam ripper IMG_2789
  • 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.

Diet

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.

Grooming

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.

BEST Cat Brush Cat Grooming Tools IMG_2949

Equigroomer Cat Brush – Read our review or buy it here

I was introduced to the EquiGroomer when the inventor reached out to me via email, introducing her product. I definitely recommend using the EquiGroomer outside – as fur can fly everywhere. I was probably most impressed by its ability to not piss off Charlie and Trigg – a hard task for any cat grooming tool.

JW Grip Soft Cat Brush – Read our review or buy it here

We have had the JW Pet GripSoft Cat Brush for a very long time.  I have used it on Charlie and Trigg and I have also used it on Caymus and Murphy.  I cannot say anything bad about it.  I like it just fine and it does the job it was made to do! This cat grooming brush is for daily brushing.

JW Pet Gift Soft Slicker Brush – Read our review or buy it here

Trigg and Charlie hate being brushed.  Let’s just get that out of the way first.  It doesn’t matter what the brush is, they just don’t like it. With that said, I like the JW Pet GripSoft Soft Slicker Brush very much and think it is a great brush for many reasons – it had a rubber sheathed handle so that it doesn’t slip in your hands.  It also has finger fitting contours. It also comes with a 3-year guarantee that it will be replaced if it fails to perform as advertised.

Shedmonster – Read our review or buy it here

When we were contacted by ShedMonster to do a product review for them, I was interested because I know people are always looking for a cat shedding solution. This cat de-shedding tool is of high quality.  In fact, Caymus was my product tester on the ShedMonster and my dad was really impressed with the quality of the tool.

JW Pet Cat Comb – Read our review or buy it here

The JW Grip Soft Cat Comb For Combing. Cat combs help to prevent matting and hairball formulation. Great for removing dingleberries from the behind area! Much like a comb vs. a brush for human hair – just gives the hair a different look. I also love the fact that I can stick this sucker into the dishwasher – so it’s easy to sanitize – if I use it on Charlie and Trigg and then on Caymus and Murphy (this was especially true this summer because I was worried that if Charlie and Trigg had flea eggs on them, that I would then transfer them to the other cats).

JW Pet Gripsoft Rotating Comfort Cat Comb – Read our review or buy it here

I did not know these two combs existed until a reader alerted me to the fact that rotating teeth might help my cats (who hate to be brushed and combed) tolerate brushing/combing.  And after using this comb for a number of weeks, the rotating teeth absolutely do help – but my cats still hate being brushed and combed. I will definitely be keeping the medium JW Pet Company Rotating Comfort Comb – I like to keep it in my drawer in the kitchen and quickly grab it when I see the cats’ manes are a mess.

JW Pet Shedding Blade for Cats – Read our review or buy it here

The JW Pet Grip Soft Shedding Blade. The GripSoft rubber-sheathed handle makes it easy to hold in your hand and the little teeth along the shedding blade aren’t too sharp that you fear you will be cut. The only warning I have is that I suggest you remove the hair outside or in your garage because it tends to get everywhere as you are removing it – especially if your cats’ hair is as plush as Charlie’s.

Safari Cat Comb Review – Read our review or buy it here

The Safari Cat Comb is the first thing I grab to comb Charlie and Trigg’s manes.  It’s also great for pesky knots and mats. As with any cat comb or brush, I used it to brush my hair to see how much it hurt or not.  It has smooth, rounded teeth, so it didn’t hurt, other than when it pulled my hair! It would be a great comb for scratching an itch – think back scratcher!

What is your favorite cat brush and why?  Please leave comments below and be sure to include:

  1. Brand of cat brush, i.e. JW Pet
  2. Model of cat brush, i.e. Slicker Brush
  3. The price you remember paying for it – or link to where one can find it online
  4. 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?
  5. Can’t decide on just one?  That’s fine – list as many as you’d like.

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Comments (29)

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  1. Wow! Thanks so much for such a great, informative post, Jenny! We haven’t had many matting/tangling issues with Miss Pink Sugarbelle’s coat until the last few months. Her ruff is so fluffy that it gets a bit matted here and there. But I’m able to easily remove them with an old hair brush I had laying around (and she lurves it!). Once the few odd mattings are gone I continue to groom her with the shed monster we have. She tolerates that pretty well (anything for a cheatz!)… 🙂 <3

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  2. Such a wide range of combs! WOW! Great job Jenny, Charlie and Chiggy! Thanks for the great info. So far, none of our 3 girls have any problems with mats and just brush them every day. Sometimes use the cat comb with the two rows to get out the fur when they are in shedding season and that works well so they don’t get hair balls. So funny about what you said about “recycling the fur for the birds” because I do the very same thing and once saw a little bird flying away with his prize! Mine love to smell their fur too and if I leave it even for a minute, they want to eat it too, especially Illaria who will take off with it and I have to chase her down to get it. So funny! Thanks for the great variety in your reviews. Seems like you covered something for everyone! ♥♥♥

    1. Thanks, Teresa – I am glad you haven’t had issues with mats. I found two mats under Charlie’s front legs last night – usually he never mats! Ugh. I cut them and then brushed them out – much to his dismay! And yes, when I brush the cats outside – the birds definitely benefit.

      1. Charlie has such a rich, dense, gorgeous coat can see how he could make a mat or two behind those cute little legs of his. Can just imagine how unhappy he was about that, but bet a couple cheetz made him forget all about that! Think Illaria has the potential to make some mats since she has that really cottony-puffy fur, but Gracie’s fur is totally different since she is a sepia and is straight and silky. Mari’s is pretty self-sufficient and she hates being brushed as much as Charlie and Chiggy do, so only her Dad can do that brushing!

  3. Thank you for that information. My Ragdolls Whitie and Khari had the lion cut last year but my new groomer does not recommend it. The cats looked weird but cute in an odd way. One cat received the cut from a different groomer; the cat (Whitie) did not appear to be comfortable when he first got home. I had the other cat done so that they could both look the same. Now both cats have long hair again — long (not medium long). The groomer says that sometimes the hair does not grow back fully after a lion cut. I will never allow my cats to get the lion cut again. I take them to a wonderful groomer about every two months, in the nice weather more frequently (Rachel Ann’s Country Clips in Pocono Summit, PA — http://www.countryclipspetgrooming.com). The cats sometimes get the micro bubble, a state-of-the-art bath (all natural-no soap or harsh chemicals, hypoallergenic, etc.); other times they get a regular shampoo. Since the cats have been going regularly, there is far less shedding (they are strictly indoor cats). The cats are pampered with an ultimate spa experience (I don’t go to the spa myself). They don’t perform so much on their way to the groomer in my little coupe as they did in the past. Both cats usually sleep on the way home as they are so relaxed after their sessions (it takes about an hour to get there each way and they are dropped off for about 4 hours). I had to postpone their appointments several times this winter due to the threat of snow but they both have appointments (Whitie, May 8th and Khari, May 22nd). Rachel Ann usually takes photos and videos and posts them to the website.

    I will certainly try the coconut oil because I have had to work out and also cut out a few mats from both cats recently; it has been awhile since they have been groomed. However I do use a brush (metal) nightly. I also have a nearly untouched jar of organic coconut oil in my bathroom (I tried it with food but do not like the taste). Both my cats enjoy getting their hair brushed. I wish I had more time to spend on this site and usually sleep or read while on the bus. I am getting ready to leave my office now for my 90 minute bus commute home.

    Thanks again for the tips.

  4. I have 1 ragdoll (thatI rescued) that had started getting matts. The trick I use to never cut her is I hold the fur (or Matt between my fingers so the my fingers are next to her skin, so I cut the Matt in the other side of my fingers. This gives 1/2″ of so protection next to her skin. This usually gets the most of the Matt out then it makes brushing thru what’s left easier. Sort of like when a hairdresser cuts your hair- she holds hair I between fingers them cuts the ends.

  5. i could look at Charlie’s face all day! he is sooo expressive, i always expect him to just start talking. god, i love that cat. i just ordered the 7 tooth ez groomer. i have 3 cats, 2 short hair and one long, bunny fur that does get matted. it used to really get matted then i changed his food and that ended. but he does still get matts but it’s not a lot and mostly on his chest area. his favorite brush is my hair brush! i have a lot of brushes that he hates. i have those pricky ones with lots of tines, i have combs, i have the furminator and i agree that it does take the shine and those guard hairs away and i don’t like that. and he hates that one with a passion. and if he doesn’t like a brush he will cry and scratch and bite me. and it’s not that i’m rough with him, i’m always gentle but he will really put on a big show like i’m killing him and then he will scratch and bite me. if he sees me with my hair brush which is one of those detangling ones, he will come running and sit there for 20 minutes while i brush him. it just doesn’t get enough hair out, especially in the summer when he sheds like crazy. i’m excited to try this. i think he might like it.. we’ll see.

    1. cool, please let me know how you like the ez-groomer. i have heard on short haired cats that it doesn’t work as well unless you run it counter the way their hair falls, which frankly would piss off charlie if i did that to him. but murphy and caymus would take grooming any way that they can get it. so please let me know how it works on the short hairs. rags LOVED my hair brush! i used it on him often. i am excited for you to try the ex-groomer too! i hope you like it – but remember that hair flies everywhere with it =). also, my dad feels about the same about charlie – the sooo expressive!

  6. With long haired dogs as well as a Ragdoll, I know mats.

    I find the mat, use scissors that have a slightly rounded pointy tip (I use those folding scissors), and start from the base of the mat, close to the skin, and cut in the direction of the growth of the fur , if it’s a big one, make several cuts. Then you can pull the mat away with your fingers or a wide toothed comb. This way does not hurt the animal or damage the coat. I had a dog whose hair matted just by looking at her, and I had to keep her coat on great shape because she was a show dog. Her brother, also a show dog, could walk through a field of burdocks and shake as he left and nothing was sticking to him.

  7. My Baby Mew loves to be brushed – she actually demands it! – but she’s the only long-haired cat I’ve ever had who felt this way. An old human hair brush is her favorite. She just tolerates other (more expensive) brushes. Top Performance mat breaker is good but requires careful handling to avoid hurting kitties. Top Performance brush with metal tines needs very gentle application. I like the Furminator, but my cats don’t. They all enjoy being petted with the Kitty Tongue Glove; it removes plenty of hair but doesn’t affect mats.

  8. Great re-post, Jenny! So many great reviews of grooming tools!!! 🙂 <3

    Our faves remain the EZ-Groomer and Shed Monster. I'm still waiting to try the new Equi-Groomer on Miss PSB (just waiting for the right opportunity) so I can give you my testimonial on that. 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  9. So I inherited two cats from my future in laws who recently passed away. One is a long haired Ragdoll who wasn’t properly taken care of because her owners were older and told me before they passed that she and her sister hate being brushed. I bought a brush and try to brush her every now and then but I have gotten bitten a few times where she left a scar on my wrist. Recently we had a few fleas in the house and I got brave enough to bath both cats and also use flea spray on them but Itsy Bitsy’s fur has gotten badly matted because she won’t let me blow dry her fur and bolts the minute she’s out of the tub. My fiancé and I have trimmed what we could off of her but with her being pink skinned it’s hard to see where her fur is compared to her skin because she is a Flame Point (mostly white fur) and we don’t want to hurt her. I am at my wits end because we can’t seem to get rid of the fleas on her and in the house and I think it’s because they are hiding underneath her matted fur and I have used flea shampoo, flea drops and flea spray on both cats plus sprayed the house with flea spray, washed everything that I could but I keep seeing them on Itsy Bitsy. We can’t afford to take her to a groomer because we have three other cats that need to be cared for, one of which is a diabetic and one of my cats has severe anxiety so both of them cost us so much money just in medication alone and I’m unemployed as well. If anyone has any ideas that would make getting the knots off her easier without hurting this poor cat , please let me know because I think once we get them off I can get rid of the fleas as well. I think she will be much happier without all those mats making her skin hurt so badly and she might let me brush her more often without taking a chunk out of my skin. Thank you!

    1. Well, we ended up buying a cat trimmer off of Amazon to shave Itsy Bitsy and I think it has done wonders for her. I also brush her and her sister at least once a week so that she won’t get matted up again. She wasn’t very thrilled when we shaved her (we had to do this over the course of a few days) but once all that matted fur was gone, she is a much happier cat and enjoys being able to lie on her sides without pain now. And the bonus is she doesn’t try to bite me as much LOL. We also have the flea issue under control now as well.

      1. We used a seam ripper and scissors to get some of the knots out but finally had to buy a trimmer. We got this one from Amazon and Itsy’s fur was badly matted so it worked great on her. I posted the link down below for Jenny but wanted to make sure you saw it so here it is again.

  10. Hi all, After I got my first ragdoll, I was under the impression they didn’t shed, LOL.
    It must have been allergy I was thinking.
    Oh well, needless to say it didn’t take long to get gi monsterous mats. I tried a lot but this worked:
    1. When he would sleep on my lap, I would
    Work the metal comb between his skin and mat ( helping to make sure I didn’t cut his skin )and
    Trying to be gentle , inconspicuous, so I wouldn’t fully wake him and slowly make one
    Sizzor cut( I used tiny sizzors) ,wait, then another until a. He woke up or b. I got thru ONE mat. If he woke up I pretended I wasn’t doing a thing but watching TV or sleeping.
    Then 2 nights later ,same thing, finish mat or start another.
    Now I know to comb him 3 times a week.
    Teddy doesn’t like combing but if I’m gentle
    he thinks I’m petting him IF IF he can stand on floor like when I’m petting him, I even do underneath him, his belly ,with comb ,with him standing. The first time he had mats the vet had to sedate him and clip him, I will never do that to him again as the combing keeps him from getting mats.But while sedated he got a micro chip too.
    Good luck, “comb as skin buffer”, still check that no skin can fit through times of metal comb.

  11. @Jenny, we bought the trimmer from Amazon and if links are allowed, this is it. oneisall Dog Shaver Clippers Low Noise Rechargeable Cordless Electric Quiet Hair Clippers Set for Dogs Cats Pets

    We bought a red one but I guess they don’t have that one any longer. It worked great considering it was our first time so we just shaved part of her, then a little more each time for a few days after that. In fact, it’s time for a shave again but hopefully we’ll be better at it this time.

  12. Please be very careful with older cats. Their skin becomes tissue thin as they age. If torn open, they can become infected. It happened to my 15 year old Himalayan. Putting him under anesthesia was a gamble because of other medical conditions, but he had to be stitched. It was successful but he had to wear his cone for weeks, which he hated snd was stressful. No need to go through all that. Just be very careful when getting down to the skin, especially in the very sensitive places under armpits.

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