How To De-mat a Cat

Tips to Painlessly Groom Your Pet

illustration of how to de-mat a cat

Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Mats are not only unsightly, they are painful to your cat. They can lead to skin irritation and infection if they're not removed. De-matting a cat is generally not a fun experience for the feline or the human. Here's the easiest and least painful way to get rid of them, but be forewarned it will take a lot of patience.

What You Need:

  • Blunt-end scissors
  • Fine-toothed comb
  • Spray bottle/conditioner
  • Cornstarch
  • Kitty Treats

How to De-Mat a Cat

  1. Start with a relaxed cat. Don't suddenly decide to remove a mat in the middle of a play session, or you'll suffer serious damage from claws.
  2. Sprinkle a little cornstarch or talcum powder in the area of the mat, and gently work it around with your fingers.
  3. Gently pull the mat up away from the skin, so you can see where the skin is.
  4. Using sharp blunt-nosed scissors, carefully slide the scissors along the skin into the mat, holding them perpendicular to the skin, i.e., the bottom blade slides along the skin.
  5. Cut up, into the mat. Make a clean cut and try not to pull the hair while cutting.
  6. Give your kitty a small treat and tell him what a good kitty he is to be so patient.
  7. Move the scissors over half an inch or so and repeat steps three through six.
  8. You should be able to start working the separated mats apart with your fingers now, and loose pieces will easily pull away.
  9. Start with a separated section of the mat. Using your left hand, hold the base of the mat down with thumb and forefinger, so the comb won't pull hair out.
  1. Using a fine-toothed 'flea comb,' gently start combing through the mat piece, starting at the very tip of the hairs. Move down into the mat as you work, occasionally using only the first 3 or 4 pegs of the comb, for stubborn sections
  2. With short-haired cats, a small slicker brush may be used next to brush through any remaining tangles. The key words here are 'slowly' and 'gently.'
  3. Give your cat another treat and stop for the day. Depending on how seriously matted he is, it may take several days to tackle them all, and you need his cooperation and patience, so don't push it all at once.

Tips for De-Matting A Cat

  1. Never bathe a cat before removing mats. You'll only have worse problems on your hands.
  2. For small tangles that haven't yet formed 'felt', try spraying with a hair conditioner before combing. Be sure to use a pump-type spray rather than aerosol, which will scare your cat.
  3. This tedious procedure will almost always work better if you have a helper to hold and comfort the cat while you work.
  4. Seriously matted cats may have to be shaved by your veterinarian or groomer. If this drastic step is necessary, be sure to maintain a regular program of brushing and coming when the coat grows back, to prevent future problems.