By Bonnie Markoff, DVM

Thank you, Shawna for your question about grooming Persian cats. This can be a big problem for many cat owners! The fine hair of a Persian easily clumps together to form matts – those Rastafarian type clumps of fur that cannot be broken up with a brush. Matts can be very painful and even cause damage to the skin because they pull on the skin like an over-tight ponytail. Many animals resent any effort we make to remove the matts, and it seems that Persian cats have the most pain associated with the procedure.

To remove matts that are not painful, try a brush designed specifically for that purpose. These brushes actually have sharp edges that cut through the matt. Once you break the matt into smaller parts, it is less painful and easier to remove. In some instances, you may be able to cut them off with scissors – BUT BE CAREFUL!! It is extremely easy to cut the skin. Never pull up on a matt and cut below it. The process of pulling up on the matt will tent the skin and almost guarantee your scissors will cut your pet. Electric clippers are usually the best way to remove the matts. Groomers can often do this. If the process is painful or your pet just hates being groomed, we may need to sedate your pet for the treatment. Shawna, you quoted a very high dollar amount for this procedure. Our hospital should be able to help you for about half that price, maybe less on subsequent visits.
Prevention is the best way to manage matts. Animals who are prone to matting their fur should be brushed every day with a good rake type brush. If you find any small matts while brushing, remove them with a matt rake or scissors when they are small and not painful. Some animals benefit from removing the hair that typically matts. A groomer can keep the hair in these areas clipped short or even shaved down to the skin. It is usually much easier to clip the hair short before matts develop than to remove the matts later. I hope this helps, Shawna!