Remove Mats Easily from Your Cat’s Fur

If you have ever had a cat with long hair, you will probably deal with this issue at one time or another. If your long-haired cat is old, you might very likely encounter it.

Remove Mats Easily from Your Cat's Fur - Stone Family Farmstead

We have a fantastic cat named Storm. We have had her since 1996, for almost as long as we have lived in this county. She has been a beloved friend and awesome mouser, and we really love our old girl. She is a very healthy cat–I believe it’s probably because she she has eaten a fairly steady diet of fresh meat in the form of gophers and mice for so very long. However, in the past 3 years or so, she has developed some really nasty mats in her fur.

Storm is 19 years old, and just like any other elderly being, she is no longer able to care for herself in the same way she always has. Though she is spry and can still hunt, she mostly chooses to move slowly and take it easy most days. She is an outdoor cat, and she has preferred it this way for quite a while. Her favorite place to lounge is on a chair by our front door where she can get plenty of attention, as well as have the freedom to move about where and when she wants to.

Removing Mats from a Cat - Stone Family Farmstead

One of Storm’s easier-to-remove mats.

The first time I noticed a mat problem on Storm was about 3 years ago. She was still pretty active at the time, and we didn’t always see her every day. The mats on her were clumpy, very close to her skin, and pretty much covered her whole back. I could tell that they were uncomfortable, so I went to work on her with a pair of scissors, which was really slow going. I worked for weeks to get those off her back, and thankfully it was spring, warm enough for her to be without some of her fur. It wasn’t the best way to remove the mats, and it sure was slow, but it did work. I was hoping this would be a done deal once I was finished, and that her former cat-grooming super powers would take over from there.

Storm the Elderly Mouser - Stone Family Farmstead

“I’m here for the grooming, but I didn’t say I was ready.” ~Storm

Well, that didn’t happen, and she ended up with another tangled mess on her body almost as bad as the last one. With no real ideas except to return to the scissors method, I turned to my friend Sue from Paws à La Mode Himalayan Cattery for some ideas. I figured that if anyone knew how to get mats out of a long-haired cat’s fur, Sue would since the breed she specializes in is a long-haired breed. She had some great ideas that have helped me immensely in freeing our poor old girl from her mat-prison.

What You Need to Remove Mats Easily from Your Cat’s Fur

These are the items I use regularly when I work on Storm:

use a seam ripper to remove mats from your cat's fur - Stone Family Farmsteada seam ripper – I use one like this, but any seam ripper will do as long as it is sharp (affiliate link)

a dematting comb is helpful in keeping mats at bay - Stone Family Farmstead-a dematting comb for cats, this is the one I have (affiliate link)

DSC03421Vetericyn, optional, for just in case you nick your cat by accident (affiliate link)

I tend to spend 10-15 minutes per day 3-4x per week if she will allow it. With the seam ripper, I am able to get under each layer of hairs, cutting them quickly simply by moving in a sideways motion. There is not much room to work with if the mats are close to the body, but with the seam ripper, it’s much easier to just get under layer after layer of the hair between the mat and the skin, resulting in a quick removal of the mat. I’ve used this method also on one of my chinchillas. It works like a charm.

It is prudent to watch closely while you are cutting, and to have some Vetericyn or some other wound care ointment or spray on hand just in case. Also, per my Himalayan cat breeder cat friend, Sue: in a situation where mats are covering large amounts of your cat’s body, be sure to wash your cat with Dawn soap twice to release the oils in those pores that were being suffocated by the mat.

Bella and Storm - Stone Family Farmstead

Bella is always down for helping with the grooming process.

Shared at Good Morning Mondays, The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Homemade Mondays, Hey Momma! Link Party, MisAdventures Monday, Maple Hill Hop, Tuesdays with a Twist, Homestead Blog Hop, Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Weekend Blog Hop, From the Farm, Front Porch Friday, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturday

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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! 🙂
Kristi Stone

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  1. Thanks for the great suggestions! I have three long-haired cats and two of them have this problem. One even has had to go to the vets twice and come home with a “lion cut” which caused everyone to laugh at him — probably including his fellow felines! Naturally, I (and he) would like to avoid this again.

    I’ll be looking for these gizmos!

    (Hopefully the third never needs treatment — he never allows anyone to hold him for one second. I have to lure him into the cat carrier for vet checkups with food, and I think they’re afraid of him, too…)

  2. We are having this issue with our one kitty now. I was able to cut most of it out but still have small pieces. Thanks for the idea of the seam ripper. Will have to try that for the rest.

  3. What wonderful tips! We’ve owned a few long-haired cats, and I wish I would have known these then! We tried a few different cutting tools, but I never heard the Dawn tip before- that stuff does everything!

  4. I have been owned by 6 Maine Coons over the years. When it comes to removing matts from cats of any age, I can only say “mustache trimmer”! The little travel size battery operated mustache trimmer fits unnoticed in the palm of your hand, the better to sneak up on your cat. Battery hums on the quiet side and doesn’t bother cats. You cannot nick thin cat skin no matter how close you “shave” them. You can hold trimmer and flip the battery on with one hand while holding cat with other hand. It is very safe and easy – for the cat and the owner.

  5. Great tip, Kristi! My old cat, Joe, passed away two summers ago and he was almost 21. We have a new sweet kitty, but I do miss him. Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!


  6. I don’t think it would have ever occurred to me to use a seam ripper! What a great idea! #heymomma

  7. As, you have a pampered kitty. I’m sure she loves you for taking care of her so well. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop. I hope we see you again today. Pinned and shared.

    • Hi Kelly! Aw, thanks for saying that. The truth is, we could be doing better by her, but she is so independent that she refuses to allow us to. We have to force care on her now that she needs it since she has been taking care of herself for so long. Thanks for visiting!

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