How to Treat Seriously Matted Fur on a Cat

Maine coons and other long-haired cats often find themselves covered in mats if not brushed regularly.

Maine coons and other long-haired cats often find themselves covered in mats if not brushed regularly.

While your cat would probably like to think of herself as the feline princess whose coat is bold and beautiful, mats tend to turn that coat into a dingy mess. Careful brushing usually takes care of the painful and unhealthy mats, although severe matting may call for a groomer.

Show your cat the brush. Let her sniff it, rub her head against it and feel comfortable around it. If you whip out the brush and begin trying to untangle her mats, she's going to learn that the brush is as evil as a squirt bottle. Leave the brush out for about an hour or two, keeping it on the floor in your kitty's general vicinity.

Place your cat in a well-lit area, and pet her for a few minutes. Let her see the brush again and nonchalantly place it on her back. After a few minutes, take it a step further and begin brushing her back gently and slowly. Your cat will probably either put on the brakes and wonder what you're doing to her or arch her back in pleasure.

Pet your cat around the ears and give her a nice scratching under the chin as you continue to brush her hair. Stay away from the matted areas for now. Your primary goal is to make her feel comfortable and think that brushing is just another form of petting.

Search for the mats with your fingers. Once you find one, hold about three-quarters of the mat against your cat's skin with your free hand, allowing only the very top of the mat to remain free. Begin gently brushing out the top with your brush or comb, working in one direction.

Work your way down to the base of the mat as you untangle the top. The goal is to unknot tiny portions of the mat at a time. If the brush doesn't seem to work, use both of your thumbs and index fingers to pull apart the matted fur. If the mat is one large clump, sometimes pulling it apart allows the brush or comb to better untangle the hair.

Untangle small portions of the mat's base. Once you close in on the base of the mat, you'll notice that the tangled area gets larger and even more problematic to untangle. Try to untangle the entire base at one time and your cat will notice too. Sectioning it off means less work for you and fewer pitiful meows from your kitty. Start at one edge, holding the majority of the mat with your fingers, and work your way to the other edge in small increments as each section is untangled.

Take your feline to the vet or groomer if you can't untangle the stubborn mats. If your cat has sections of matted fur, you can probably take care of the problem yourself. If her fur is bad enough that the mat is just one giant stretch of knotted hair, that's a situation that probably calls for a professional, as shaving her fur might be necessary.

Items you will need

  • De-matting brush or comb
  • Gloves


  • Use a de-matting brush or comb specifically for your cat's hair length.
  • Put on a pair of gloves before you start removing your kitty's mats. Unless your cat enjoys being brushed, she might snap at you or attempt to gash you with her claws. Any material thick enough to stop her claws and teeth will work, such as garden gloves or even a pair of old fleece gloves.
  • If your cat resists and throws a fit when you brush her, stop and try again later. If she's going to flip out, she'll probably do so when you turn her over and try to brush out the mats on her underside. If she's an adult who has never been brushed before, she may not adjust to the brush. In that case, a trip to the groomer might be necessary.
  • Brushing your cat one to two times a week will prevent severely matted fur.


  • Never attempt to cut out the mats with scissors or shave the fur with a razor. It's often difficult to differentiate between the base of the mat and your cat's skin.

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About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • Main coon Rassekatze ruht und lauscht image by lamaka from