Matted Fur Remedies

| Modified on Nov 30, 2023
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.

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Posted by Amy (Florida) on 02/10/2017

This was a big mistake to try this. I have an old cat with an oily back leg. I ended up cutting mats out.

Replied by ANDREA

Re: Baby Oil for Matted Fur

I have a mean Maine coon who will not tolerate brushing. Every year he gets several large mats underneath on his belly and under his legs.

In the past, I have sedated him and had him shaved but the last time he came out of sedation, he wasn't the same for a long time. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS METHOD IS TO USE A DROPPER AND PUT ONE DROP ON THE MAT AND ONE DROP ABOVE THE MAT.

The mats will loosen up in a couple of days and you can just gently pull them off or they'll fall off on their own.

Please do not use more than a couple of drops and please please do not cover your cats with olive oil or baby oil.. this is extremely dangerous as their livers cannot process these oils.

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Posted by Kathy (Port Jefferson, Ny) on 08/29/2015

I was totally despondent due to my 18 year-old cat's matted condition. I'd never heard of the baby oil solution but since I had it on hand, I gave it a try. To my amazement, the clumps started coming off in my hand! I've applied generous amounts now and look forward to an end to my Zoe' nightmare.

Thank you SO much everyone!

Replied by Brenda
(Manchester, Nh)

I want to try baby oil on my cat's mats, do I just rub it into the mats?

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney, Australia)

Brenda, yes you do, but only use a small amount in each tangle, better still get a can of olive oil or coconut oil and spray each tangle then comb the latter. A lot less messy.

Replied by Soazburrolady
(Southern Az)

Hi Brenda.

Two of my kitties are long- haired, though only one has the problem of matting. I brush her every day without fail, but sometimes she still develops them, especially at the base of the tail. I use coconut oil rather than mineral oil (which is the basis of baby oil). Coconut oil is a very healthy oil for animals (I give it to my dogs every day). Your kitty will inevitably lick at whatever oil you use, so this is a win-win. I just dip my fingertips in the oil and massage it into the mat. Later in the day the knot brushes right out without any discomfort to the kitty at all. All the best.

Replied by John
(Dalton, Ga)

What about lanolin? I would think it being a natural animal product (mainly from sheep, I think) it would be safe and effective? I'm sure it would make his coat nice and shiny, but I'm wondering if it would help the mats in his fur any. :)

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Posted by Mopsie (New Orleans, LA) on 03/11/2015

I tried the baby oil on my older ragdoll and it did work on smaller mats (dime-sized), but the biggest (silver dollar sized and larger) didn't budge. He also became constipated from licking the area, so I have to say nay on really large mats. I ended up taking to a cat groomer at a local vet and she graciously shaved off the large mats. He looks a mess right now, but I know he is comfortable and the hair will grow back. I use a dematting comb daily so he won't end up in the same situation and to remove shedding winter coat fur.

Replied by Kathy
(Stevens Point)

Hello, what do I use on the red sensitive skin after knots fall off or get combed out?

Pam E.
(South Western California)
130 posts

This article (Matted Fur Remedies) suggests using Witch-hazel. I don't have any Witch-hazel, tho, so may try Aloe vera gel. And give a tiny bit of MSM mixed in their food.

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Posted by Arleen (Sumerside, Pei) on 11/25/2013

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.

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney Australia)

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

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Posted by Peggy (Lowell, In) on 08/07/2013

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.

Replied by G
(Nyc, Ny)

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.

Replied by Cathy
(Hartford, Ct)

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.

Replied by Olga

Very dangerous to use an electric shaver on someone drinking water and/or partially wet! You don't want your Beloved Cat and yourself getting electrocuted!

Replied by Grace

I was wondering about the electricity and water together. That was the first thing I thought about was electrocution. I wouldn't shave my cat with an electric shaver near water. Dangerous for human and cat. DUH Moment!

Replied by Helen

There are rechargeable battery operated electricity.

Pam E.
(SW California)
130 posts

Don't batteries store electricity? Not as much as what is on an electric wire, but ... you said "no" electricity.

Replied by Irene

I imagine the lady with the ragdoll cat that drinks water at the sink uses a CORDLESS razor or shaver.

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Posted by Patti (Windsor, Va.) on 08/03/2011

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.

Replied by Dana
(Mchenry, Il)

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!!

Replied by Ann
(Huntsville, Al)

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".

Replied by Kathy
(Cary, Nc)

Advice from a farm vet years ago, when my cat first started having some intestinal difficulties, she recommended giving 1/2 to 1 tsp Mineral Oil every day to my then "hunting" cat. He has always been an incessant groomer, as well. Mineral Oil is completely safe for cats. My Elmo has been taking it for over 7yrs now. Now I am going to be taking this site's advice and using it on his mats! He has lost his interest to groom, poor guy.

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Posted by Dar (Tukwila, Wa) on 11/08/2010

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..

Replied by Julie
(Brighton, Sussex, Uk)

We have a ragdoll and a Norwegion ginger boy about 8 years old and the last two years he has got matted and this year worse than ever. I found that it was because he is lying in the long grasses and turning and twirling about is matting the fur. He has got quite lazy too. I have had to cut some of the matted bits off but making sure your fingers are holding the mat right close to the skin, then work off the above bits; and if any cutting would be to your self. and then get the top parts off by your means you mention. Oh, for the love of cats! Julie with thanks.

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Posted by Jasmine (East Haddam, Connecticut) on 08/18/2010

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!

Replied by Ann
(Bingley, Yorkshire, England)


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.


Replied by Lapebble
(Glenwood, Ia)

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.

Replied by Godfreytribe
(Norman, Ok)

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.

Replied by Annemichelle
(Fort Wayne, Indiana)

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!
Thank you!

Replied by Colleen

Great thread guys! I used vita oil on my himalayan but it was to thick so now he's a greasy matted static mess. I'll try some oil on the large grouping of smaller matts then wash him down with dish soap. Has anyone used human shampoo and conditioner on your cat?

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney, Australia)

Colleen, try coconut oil or olive oil in spray can and spray each tangle then comb works well and no mess.

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Colleen,

Human shampoo should be fine on your himi as long as you follow up with a final vinegar rinse to restore the balance of the PH on the skin - use 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. Do keep in mind that when you wash and dry matted fur the mat shrinks when it dries; this could cause tremendous pain for your himi. Please consider cutting the mat out or seeing a groomer if you cannot work the mat out.

Replied by Donna
(Philadelphia, Pa)

Try cornstarch for matted fur.

Replied by Soazburrolady
(Southern Az)

One of my older long haired kitties has been prone to matting really from the beginning. I have tried multiple combs and brushes along with massaging coconut oil into the base of the mat. Coconut oil is actually good for kitties and a good choice for oiling. Recently, the mats have become more of a problem and I tried a new comb. Wow! Worked great even without the coconut oil and with almost no pulling. I sent one to my son for the "grandkitties" and it was a big hit there too. The head of the comb is rather heavy, so I am careful while using it over bony areas. I bought mine from Amazon for about $30. I hope it is okay to be specific about the item - Go Pets Dematting comb. Maybe it will help your kitty. I also used it on my big old lab/Newfie mix. And he liked it too.

Replied by Bernadette
(New Zealand)

No please don't use any dishwasher or soap just sponge her with water then towel dry. Putting any soap unless special vet soap is toxic and makes Matt's worse.

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Posted by Joan (Dubuque, Iowa) on 07/18/2010

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.

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Posted by Sandy (Greenfield, Wisconsin) on 01/22/2010

I can't wait to try the baby oil on my cat Sammy.He has many mats and I know he's 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 !


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Posted by Pat Carlock (Tulsa, Ok.) on 03/18/2009

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.

Replied by Pat
(Worc, Mass)

can baby oil harm cats if swallowed?

Replied by Snuggle
(Long Boat Key, Florida)

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?

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Posted by Steve (Sedalia, Missouri) on 03/10/2009


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?

Replied by Jill
(West Long Branch, Nj)

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.

Replied by Wendy
(Vancouver Canada, Bc Canada)

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...

Replied by Maple65
(Vancouver, Bc, Canada)

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

Replied by Joujou73
(Sydney, Nsw, Australia)

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 :)

Replied by D.smith
(Bathurst, Nb, Canada)

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.

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Posted by Prissy100 (Santa Barbara, California) on 10/14/2008

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.

Replied by Betty
(Eureka, CA USA)

I'm planning to use the baby oil treatment for matted hair on one of my cats. His is really big 5 x 3 1/2 inches wide probably, and about 2 1/2 inches 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 I'd rather try this.

Replied by Becki
(Millville, N. J.)

I have a 19 year old cat. The matts are all over her entire body. Her tummy, chest, hind legs, all over. If I put oil on her I will have to soak her whole body. She won't let me comb her. She is very thin and short haired. She has hyperthyroidism. I just don't know what to do. Help!!!!

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney, Australia)

Becki, grab a aerosol can with coconut oil or olive oil and spray the knots one at a time, then comb. You will find they will easily come out with not much mess it works well

If you can't comb your cat you will have to cut them out, but if you can use the spray oil and comb. It doesn't hurt the animal much.

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Posted by Pam (Maybell, CO) on 08/16/2008

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.

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Posted by Jill (West Long Branch, New Jersey) on 08/11/2008

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.

Replied by Lana

Hi...what kind of baby oil are you using as my 15yr is quite matted ...tks

EC: Hi Lana, according to many of our readers, coconut oil is a safer choice!

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