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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Recently we helped rescue an adult female Maine Coon mix who was living near our local river walk. She has been spotted there for about 1 month. She is now less nervous around us but still leery of much contact. She will allow me to gently brush her coat along her spine and a bit to each side of it. The undercoat on her belly and neck has areas that are very matted. What do you suggest be done with these matted areas and how do we accomplish your suggestions? Thank you for all you do.

~ Donna

Siouxsie: Funny you should mention mats. I’m rather embarrassed to say that I had a little mat of my own last week. Mama was able to get it out of my fur, but it wasn’t very pleasant.

Thomas: Long-haired cats do have a tendency to get pretty matted up, especially when they’re living as strays and they don’t have humans to look after their fur. It’s a good thing this kitty found you and you want to help her.

Bella: Probably the best and least painful thing to do would be to bring her to the vet and have them give her a “lion cut” like the one in the photo above.

Siouxsie: Of course, if you live in an area where it’s still cold and this cat is still living outdoors, now is definitely not the time to have all of her fur shaved off.

Thomas: But if you have been able to coax her indoors, we’d strongly recommend a lion cut. If you take her to the vet, they’ll be able to sedate her, which will make the process a lot less stressful.

Bella: They also don’t have to shave her right down to the skin like they did for the kitty in the photo.

Siouxsie: While the cat is sedated, they may be able to comb out other mats that are forming around her neck or in her armpits, too.

Thomas: And once you get rid of all the mats, you can slowly get her used to being brushed all over her body in order to keep the mats under control in the future.

Bella: We also recommend that you ask your vet or a groomer about the best brushes to use on a long-haired cat.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, if it’s still too cold or the cat isn’t very trusting yet, you may want to try using a mat splitter. This tool basically breaks the mat which makes it easier to comb out.

Thomas: Mama wrote some tips on grooming long-haired cats for Catster, which you can find here — complete with a video showing a groomer working on a long-haired kitty.

Bella: Remember that cats have very delicate skin, so don’t pull too hard on mats.

Siouxsie: So far, it sounds like you’re doing the right thing: getting this cat used to being touched and brushed. Keep it up, be patient, and hopefully this beautiful cat will let you take her in for a shave and a haircut.

Thomas: Please let us know how things turn out — and maybe show us a picture of this cat when she’s all nice and smooth again.

Bella: What about you other readers? Do you have tips for grooming long-haired cats, especially if they’re kind of skittish about being groomed? Please share them in the comments. Purrrs!