Last Modified on May 09, 2014
Every pet owner who has a long-haired or thick-coated animal knows how truly difficult, time consuming and frustrating it can be for both you and your pet when dealing with matted fur. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do or how often you groom your pet, those large, tights knots of fur are just inevitable. Matted fur is difficult to avoid in breeds such as the Chow, Rough Collies, Newfoundland Dogs, Persian cats and other long-haired types. Thick matting can also be very painful and uncomfortable for an animal, especially when those mats are located behind the ear, flank or rear end areas of the pet.
Here are a few solutions to help make dealing with those mats a little less difficult for you and your pet. In an effort to make a large mat easier to comb out, pour some Powdered Corn Starch onto the mat and using your fingers, work it into the fur while trying to separate the mass of clumped hair. Once you have worked it in well and loosened up the hair, use a wide-toothed comb to de-tangle the rest of it.
For large mats that are impossible to untangle, you may need to actually cut or shave the mat out using electric clippers or a razor. The area that you have shaved may be very sensitive and possibly a bit swollen so wrap some ice in a cloth and apply it to the area for about ten minutes, a couple times a day until the swelling is gone. You can also use some Witch Hazel applied to the shaved area, which will relieve irritation and itching.
|Baby Oil||17 YEAS|
[NAY] 11/25/2013: Arleen from Sumerside, Pei: "Hi, had a badly matted cat, and tried the baby oil, I ended up with a greasy cat and made everything so much worse. it never loosened up the mat and I believe just attracted more dirt. Unfortunately this cat passed away (from old age hence the lack of grooming on her part), right before her appt with the groomer. the groomer wouldn't shave her in the winter, we tried to explain the problem but she insisited we had to wait. That's why we tried the baby oil.
I have another cat with a small but very hard sticky matt on her back by her tail. I will be trying the cornstarch, I have a wide tooth comb and deshedder..if it gets worse, it will be a trip to a knowledgable groomer."Replies
[YEA] 11/25/2013: Suseeq from Sydney Australia replies: "I have always used baby oil on matted pets fur including horses manes' the secret is to apply a small amount and work it through with your fingers then comb"
08/07/2013: Peggy from Lowell, In: "I have read all the comments about how well baby oil does to remove mats but if your cat is all oiled up what happens when he goes in the litter box, won't you then have an oily, matted cat covered with kitty litter? My old cat is matted all over, is nasty about you messing with the mats and not in good enough health to be anesthesized to be shaved... Just wondered about everything sticking to his oily fur. Any suggestions would be appreciated."Replies
08/16/2013: G from Nyc, Ny replies: "Maybe coconut oil would work better? My cats love it. (They are always trying to stick their paws in my coffee when I use it. ) This would cause your cat to groom himself to help relieve some of the mats. I would think that mineral oil would be hard to wash out (if the cat lets you) and would not be healthy for him to ingest."
10/12/2013: Cathy from Hartford, Ct replies: "My older long haired Ragdoll cat developed lots of mats too. I found a way to easily shave them out... She loves water from the sink. As soon as I go near a sink, she's there. So I turn on a stream of water and as she drinks, I shave out some mats. I'm keeping the shaver right at the sink... And will keep doing this till they're all gone. Then I'm going to keep the brush handy and brush her daily while she's occupied with the water to prevent mats. She didn't like brushing either, which led to the mat problem. Just be sure to use a shaver and not a scissor as its easy to cut your cat if you use a scissor."
[YEA] 08/03/2011: Patti from Windsor, Va.: "I tried the baby oil about 2months ago and it has totally worked my cat has no more knotted hair, so this does work took a little while though, but well worth it, thank you for the tip."Replies
11/13/2011: Dana from Mchenry, Il replies: "I was so happy to find this information. I have been so upset and worried about my 16 year old cat. He is not grooming himself anymore, and has long hair, so a lot of matting. I could not keep up with the matts even with brushing all of the time. He has a rather large one on his lower back by his tail and very close to his skin. I have been worried sick about it because I know it has to be painful. I tried the mineral oil on him last night... I see one matt might be loosening up a little bit. The big one has not yet, so I applied more today. We will see!!"
11/27/2011: Ann from Huntsville, Al replies: "Our 15 year old white short haired cat also began getting matted a month or so ago. Reading about the hazards of mineral oil for cats I have determined that rubbing mineral oil (baby oil-unscented) into our cat's fur is not dangerous at all. The concern about mineral oil is that it is a light/odorless/tasteless liquid that when placed in front of a cat's mouth/nose he may enhale the liquid into his lungs because he cannot smell or taste it. Basically the cat doesn't realize anything is there until he's inhaled the liquid. When the oil is rubbed into the cat's fur, the cat cannot [in essence] drown in the liquid if he licks it off his fur.
I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but it took me a little while to unravel the concerns that were being expressed and realize there are no "dangerous fumes" or anything that the cat would inhale if the mineral oil is rubbed into his coat.
True, mineral oil is useful as a laxative and/or stool softener. Our old feline is also a little "sluggish" so I'm hoping this matted fur remedy will also help his digestive tract as he IS licking and grooming himself now. We did apply mineral oil to his coat two days ago and have noticed good improvement in the [formerly] matted fur. Yesterday I used a medicine dropper to apply the oil closer to the roots of the fur. Our little cat is no longer growling and hissing at us when we rub him anywhere near those mats. He seems to be feeling much better already! I think the oil itself is soothing to his tender skin underneath the mats.
I do agree with some of the other posts; I'm not sure if the fragrance in baby oil is dangerous for cats, but the purer form of plain mineral oil seemed to be a better choice "just in case"."
11/08/2010: Dar from Tukwila, Wa: "I have been looking for a way to rid my older norwegian mix cat of matts. I have been cutting them off but have not been able to get them completely free, and he is a lumpy mess. He was a rescue cat and we got him when he was oldr and no one must have groomed him as he hates being brushed but over the past 4 years I have been able to have him tolerate me brushing but the matts pull and he growls at me so I am hoping this will work. Getting the baby oil tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestions.."
[YEA] 08/18/2010: Jasmine from East Haddam, Connecticut: "I could not believe that using baby oil would get rid of mats. My Norwegian Forest cat (long-haired) is over 16 and has stopped grooming herself and the mats have just multiplied. I did not want her to undergo any shaving which would mean being "put under" and wouldn't know if she could take it. I applied some virgin olive oil that I had in the house and put it on a couple of her mats. I couldn't believe my eyes today when I found one of the oily mats on the floor! Unbelievable! I figured if she licked herself, it would be good stuff for her! Thank you all so much. More tonite! .... A little at a time!"Replies
[BETTER BUT WITH SIDE EFFECTS] 06/01/2011: Ann from Bingley, Yorkshire, England replies: "Thanks so much for the baby oil suggestion. Our long haired cat is 19 years old and has stopped grooming and coat covered in mats. We have been trying to cut out but frightened we might hurt her. Think she wouldn't cope with a full coat shaving as recommended on some web sites. Read your postings re baby oil and decided to give it a try. To our amazement it is working and mats are sliding off. Not sure how its working but it is. Be grateful for any advice re what to do now with one very oily cat. Mats are going but coat now covered in oil. Will it eventually wear off or do we need to do something to remove oil? Be grateful for advice.
06/04/2011: Lapebble from Glenwood, Ia replies: "I would suggest bathing him in dish liquid or something similar that cuts grease. They use it on birds that get oil on them from oil tankers that spill in the ocean."
06/05/2011: Godfreytribe from Norman, Ok replies: "good old blue dish soap bath. I used olive oil on lice for my kids and had to use it to cut the oil. Good luck."
11/15/2011: Annemichelle from Fort Wayne, Indiana replies: "I was so glad to hear from the woman who has a 19 yo cat. Thank you for going into a little more detail about keeping the oil on for several days.
I was doing fair at keeping my 18 yo cat's fur somewhat clump free until recently. Lately it has gotten worse and it breaks my heart because I can tell it is very uncomfortable. After reading the posts. I went to the kitchen and got the Olive oil and a plastic syringe and started putting in on both back sides near his tail and even on his chest! In the last couple weeks even his legs have gotten matted.... :(. I am working on the biggest ones and will attack the little one's after that. I have to tell you that he was not happy that I was putting it on him. Our relationship has temporarily changed from him following me everywhere to me following him. LOL He just keeps looking over his should to see if he can relax before I put more oil on him!!!
I put towels on my couch and since my cat sleeps with me I am a little nervous of getting oil every where.... But it is worth it if it works!
[YEA] 07/18/2010: Joan from Dubuque, Iowa: "Our poor 16 yr. Old longhaired cat had many areas of matted fur, as he doesn't groom himself as well as he used to do; also, he wasn't allowing us to brush his fur. Read comments about the baby oil, and he does let us put this on the mats, and I did soak them well! It's amazing how effective this is; we did reapply baby oil to several stubborn areas. It has been a week now and all but a few spots are mat free. The mats mostly fell off; I did have to clip a tiny bit at a very large one which was loose and hanging. I sprinkled a little corn starch on his fur to get rid of some oil, and brushed it very lightly in the areas which are mat free. Will do this to his legs and tummy once those mats are gone. The baby oil works like a charm and hasn't made him sick; he is now letting me brush him for brief periods. I think brushing was hurting him before."
01/22/2010: Sandy from Greenfield, Wisconsin: "I can't wait to try the baby oil on my cat Sammy.He has many mats and I know he's miserable..as I am for him.
I checked with our vet and a lion cut would cost $200.00.I love Sammy but can not afford that at this time. I will let you know how it works. PRAY !
[YEA] 03/18/2009: Pat Carlock from Tulsa, Ok.: "We have an American Bob-Tail cat and they have very thick hair. She got matted hair all on both side, put baby oil on just the matts and worked into the hair, it works great, matts are gone and she is so happy!! Don't try to comb or brush then it does no good and is very painful to the cat. They will fall out or be gone in about a week , it is wonderful. Hope this is a help to someone."Replies
08/25/2009: Pat from Worc, Mass replies: "can baby oil harm cats if swallowed?"
01/05/2010: Snuggle from Long Boat Key, Florida replies: "um well my cat wont let me put anything on his fur, i brush his fur regularly so it stops more matted fur from coming but he still has his old matted fur, sometimes he lets me cut it out or work it out with my fingers, but very very rarely. What should i do?"
[NAY] 03/10/2009: Steve from Sedalia, Missouri: "NAY
It did not work. We left the baby oil on our Persian cat's severely matted fur for over 48 hours, and it did nothing whatsoever to help the problem.
I am wondering if the people who said that it worked allowed their cats to groom themselves freely after the baby oil was applied? I'm asking this because on another website, it mentions that baby oil is scented mineral oil, and that mineral oil will block the intestines when consumed.
So, we put a cone on our cat to prevent her from grooming and thereby consuming the baby oil.
In other words, the baby oil by itself does nothing. It's more likely that it is the constant licking the cats do to try to clean the baby oil off of themselves that actually pulls the matted fur out over 24-48 hours.
How is the health of any of the cats whose owners used this remedy? Did they encounter any problems from their cats consuming the baby oil?"
[YEA] 02/16/2010: Jill from West Long Branch, Nj replies: "What I did because the cat was intolerant of me going anywhere near her Large Matted areas. They were right up to her skin. These are of course painful. I took the bottle and just squeezed a large amount right up against her skin where the matt was. They fell off within 24 hours. The ones that did not fall off, I just put more baby oil on them. Again, right up against the skin. I did not rub it in. I used a plentiful amount. It did no harm to her. 18 years old. She has the some again and I have the baby oil ready. Be patient and apply again heavily maybe. You might not be putting enough on. It works."
02/20/2010: Wendy from Vancouver Canada, Bc Canada replies: "I recently adopted a 10 year old Persian from the vet hospital in Jan/2010. She was there as her eye needed to be removed and was abandoned by her previous owners
She is actually a true blue persian..She immigrated to Canada from Doha, Qatar about 6 months ago in very rough shape. The hospital did shave her to remove the matts.
I don't know her grooming history however the previous owners did provide a picture of her taken in 2005 and she had a beautiful coat, I'm assuming that she has been to a groomer before.
Thank you the tip on removing matts. As a new owner of a Persian this infomation really helps and I'm going out right now to by baby oil. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated
Scruffy thanks you as well..."
01/28/2011: Maple65 from Vancouver, Bc, Canada replies: "This post is to ask Wendy from Vancouver Canada who brought her Persian From Doha Qatar! Presently being in Qatar, will be returning to Canada next year. I have just got a white Persian- How he has come to us is a real long story! He's abt 9 months old-If you can email me I would like to ask you a few questions about pet service, vets here and as U would know this place is different from all others I need personal opinions and advice.Thanks
My email is
03/27/2011: Joujou73 from Sydney, Nsw, Australia replies: "Why not try Olive Oil, Paraffin Oil or Castor Oil instead?? All are edible and cannot do any harm to your poor old puss. May also help with going to the toilet. It helps my mum, lol.
I was a bit hesitant putting baby oil on my cat too so I used the Paraffin Oil and they have all dropped off. A miracle. I was too scared to shave the area myself because they are close to the skin and he is a Chinchilla and their fur is the softest finest fur of them all.
Good Luck :)"
04/01/2011: D.smith from Bathurst, Nb, Canada replies: "Castor oil is from the Castor Bean Plant... Very toxic... It causes intense, violent stomach cramping and they used to use it to try and induce labour in pregnant women. Believe me.. It causes excruciating pain. I don't think mineral oil would be good either. Cats are extremely sensitive to some foods and medications that are perfectly safe for other animals. Please don't use anything without checking first with your vet. I imagine olive oil would be safe, as would canola oil... But both could have a laxative effect. Baby oil has fragrances and probably chemicals added. Please, check with your veterinarian first."
[YEA] 10/14/2008: Prissy100 from Santa Barbara, California: "I poured some Baby Oil first on just a couple of matted/tangled fur lumps. Yes indeedy, this definitely works. Within a few days they fell off. Thank you so much, my cat I'm sure feels better now laying down on his sides, it must've hurt. I have about 4-5 fur lumps left to do. I've been brushing him daily and this has helped too. I looked at other links for answers and there weren't any that mentioned anything about using Baby Oil."Replies
10/22/2008: Betty from Eureka, CA USA replies: "I'm planning to use the baby oil treatment for matted hair on one of my cats. His is really big though...like 5 x 3 1/2 inches wide probably, and about 2 1/2 inches tall...do you think it will work on one that big? It's on his back in front of his tail. I've cut and shaved some off, but it's really hard to get anything to work on it because it is all stuck together. I'm afraid if I try to shave it from the bottom, I'll cut his skin...so I'd rather try this."
[YEA] 08/16/2008: Pam from Maybell, CO: "Thank you for the advise on the Baby oil for the large matts on our cat. I applied it close to the skin and the small ones came off the next day, and the large matt came off in two days. I have tried everything in the last few months trying to get the matts out. I couldn't believe how easy it was and how fast it worked."
[YEA] 08/11/2008: Jill from West Long Branch, New Jersey: "I tried the BABY Oil this past weekend. It is truely amazing. The cat was very uncomfortable and I just squeezed the baby oil close to her skin soaking it with the baby oil. I did not touch or rub it in because it hurt her for me to touch her. The large matts fell off in 2 days. I gave it a second doze of baby oil on the second day. I usually shave her twice a year but I didn't get to it."
[YEA] 04/23/2008: Joe from Burlington, USA: "The idea of Baby Oil to rid my cat of matted fur worked great! Chyli, a jet black himmy, had numerous clumps hanging from him like saddle bags on a horse! This episode was the second of this. The first time this happened to him, we had our vet shave him. She could find no health reasons for the clumping, other than his age (16 years), and may not be as nimble when it comes to him cleaning himself due to his age. Not wanting to shave the poor guy again, I tried the baby oil and the mats fell off on their own. His fur grew back to its normal long silky texture quickly and he has not had any clumping in the last 8 months."
[NAY] 03/27/2008: Linda from Long Island, NY: "I tried this method on my cat, Blondie. Unfortunately, it was not effective, and we have quite an oily mess to clean up. I'll be bringing her to our vet so he can remove the mats. :( Had hoped to avoid shaving her -- you know how self-conscious our cats are about their appearance."
[YEA] 03/15/2008: Linda from Long Island, NY: "I read your brief article and the few comments on using baby oil to remove matted fur knots from dogs and cats. I'm delighted to find an alternative to shaving my cat's fur. 1. Where can I find the original article commenters referred to? How much do you use - any directions for applying? 2. How do you keep from getting the oil all over your house while doing this cure? 3. Would pure mineral oil would work just like baby oil (isn't baby oil just mineral oil with fragrance added)? Big thanks, Linda (and "Blondie")"Replies
10/13/2008: Minta replies: "Like Linda from Long Island, I would like to find the original article about using baby oil for matted hair. Do you soak it? Do you just rub it in all over? Do you just rub it in at the base of the mat? It would sure be nice to have more than one remedy article posted at a time!"
03/17/2010: Arleen from Sackville, Ns, Canada replies: "I am also wondering, if baby oil is scented mineral oil, why we wouldn't be using the mineral oil instead. it's "more natural" and i would think safer. my cat is 20, and as other ppl mentioned with their older cats, that they aren't as flexible to clean themselves. her fur sheds downward and then balls, so she has a sadlebag that has now moved toward her stomache, one on her leg, the weight alone making it hard to walk, and a huge lump we noticed today under her tail which will interfere with her toliet duties eventually. when she was a kitten we had to have her behind shaved. usually the fur would fall off in the spring in sheets. (probably because she was able to groom). am sending the dh to the drugstore 2morrow, i will probably try the mineral oil first. if it doesn't work, i'll try the baby oil. if your cat is able to groom, i would do what someone suggested and get a cone..better safe than sorry."
[YEA] 08/24/2010: Delilah from Never Never Land, Universe replies: "Yes, Mineral oil DOES WORK! I was desperate because my baby had a really ugly mat right near the base of his tail. (He cried if I even touched it... But fortunately tolerated the mineral oil application)
Had to apply mineral oil twice - but it does seem like it just 'fell off' - amazing!!! TIP: one good way to apply: I used a latex glove - poured the oil onto the finger of my gloved hand - applied to entire mat (above and underneath) - SEVERAL applications at once to thoroughly saturate... Waited a day, and the evening of day 3 (last night actually, re-saturated)
- an hour ago he came prancing in, with his old 'bounce in his step' and the mat was GONE! Found it on my bed, actually. :) SO HAPPY!!!"
05/09/2014: Diane from Miami, US replies: "Thanks for the baby oil advice! I rubbed a generous amount on each of my older (and fat) cat's back where I couldn't comb the mats out ( well - I could if I wanted lots of cat scratches on my hands) . Anyway - I watched her for a couple of days to see if she would bite or clean the oil and mats off ( as someone thought might be happening) but I never saw her once trying to groom her back ( which would be sort of impossible for her anyway)-- but what I did notice was little clumps of the hard fur here and there around the house. I just looked at her fur and it's perfect again! I did trim the clumps first - being very careful to not cut close to her skin. Now I have to figure how to wash the baby oil out without getting scratched to death!!! :)"