Dear Porky & Buddy,
I feel so guilty. I was just petting my beautiful Maine Coon, Sylvester, when I notice a huge mat of fur in his arm pit. When I started to try to loosen it he freaked out and ran under the couch. I don’t know how it could have gotten so bad. I pet him all the time and I swear it developed almost overnight. What should I do?
Guilt is a highly overrated behavioral tool, in our opinion. (Pleasure is much more effective, but more about that later.) So first of all stop wasting your time on guilt and do what you gotta do.
Make your first attempt to remove the fur mat after Sylvester has eaten. Cats tend to be more relaxed after meals. Be calm and soothing as you approach him. (Or at least pretend to be calm.) Have your tiny manicure scissors hidden in your pocket as you pet him and once he is relaxed, try to slowly work out the fur mat with your fingers. Work at the outer edges first to try to get them to loosen up. Don’t pull on his skin though as that may be very painful.
If that doesn’t work, pull out the scissors and snip down the middle of the fur mat, far from the skin. It’s quite easy to snip the skin accidentally on longhaired cats, at which point Sylvester will probably never forgive, you so work carefully.
Slowly work apart the fur mat with your fingers again. Snip away a little more if necessary. Reassure him in a soothing voice as you snip. If he becomes upset, stop and come back to the task later. Once you’ve worked apart the fur mat and it’s clearly away from the skin, cut it off.
Reward Sylvester’s cooperation with a kitty treat.
If you discover as you are working that he has several fur mats, remove them at separate times. He will undoubtedly lose patience after you remove the first fur mat. Build his trust with a gentle approach and kitty treats to make future encounters easier.
If all else fails, bite the bullet and bring Sylvester to a professional groomer. This is especially important if Sylvester is unapproachable, if the fur mat is in a delicate area or if the mats are extremely tangled. Professional groomers have the tools and know how to do it right without making a bad situation worse.
Plus Sylvester will not blame you for what the groomer does.
And it sounds like you need to develop a routine of brushing Sylvester more often and more regularly. Which is a good thing for both of you. It will assuage your guilt and Sylvester will reward you with purrs of pleasure. And what could be better than that?
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets.
Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.
Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.