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Oiling Point Of Fur Mats (Using Olive Oil To Remove Clumps Of Matted Fur)

My favorite technique for removing furry mats from dogs and cats is to apply olive oil to the base of the mat. Then just sit back and wait for the mat to fall off on its own. If you apply enough oil to the right spot, the mat will just fall off within a few days. No scissors, no shaving, no trips to the vet or groomer.

Check out my video demonstrating my biggest tips for using this technique! (Casey, the cat in the video, is extremely shy and anxious about anything new or unusual. I made the video the first time I did this with her so she’s living proof of how easy this is on the cat or dog involved.)

Here is a typed list of my tips for using olive oil to remove fur mats.

  • fur-mats-removing-casey-duringUse a syringe (without a needle) to apply olive oil as close to the skin as possible. The small tip of the syringe enables you to get oil closer to where you want it. Because of the way fur mats form, it’s challenging to get close enough to the skin using a spoon. The absolute ideal would be to get the oil under the mat.
  • Better to use too much oil than too little. Using too little means the only thing that’ll happen is that the dog or cat gets oily fur. Using “too much” won’t hurt at all. Olive oil is harmless if ingested while grooming.
  • Use room temperature olive oil. Cold oil would be a shock. Imagine somebody putting a cold ice cube down your pants when you least suspect it. LOL. Cats have uber-sensitive nerves on their backs and bellies, where most fur mats develop. Room temp oil is often unnoticed when it’s applied. (Cue “evil genius” laughter.)
  • Re-apply in 2-3 days if the mat doesn’t fall off in that time.
  • Tackle just one mat at a time.
  • Provide lots of rewards to those who are uncomfortable with new situations or who won’t like being touched in whatever way they have to be touched as you do this. Bribery goes a long way for most of us – er – uh – I mean for most of them.
  • Anything the oiled cat lays on will get oil on it. So be sure to remove or protect valuable or fragile items. Be prepared to launder bedding and other fabric items with oil-cutting detergents. (Bonus tip: I pre-soak clothes in Dawn dish liquid for 24+ hours to get rid of grease and oil stains.)
  • Be prepared to be amazed when one day your companion gets up from a nap and you notice that big fur mat left behind on the bedding. Be prepared to be startled if you mistake it for a mouse if your little one sleeps on the floor and you find the mat by stepping on it with bare feet when you’re half asleep.

I can’t find any article anywhere explaining exactly how olive oil works its magic on mats. One strange detail is that there isn’t a bald spot where the mat had been attached to kitty’s body. My suspicion is that the oil opens pores in a way that causes the outer sheath or “glassy membrane” (that’s actually the legit medical terminology) that coats individual hairs to separate from the hair which would then allow the sheath to slides right off the hair without the hair actually being pulled out.

Want more tips for removing furry mats from dogs’ and cats’ coats?


16 comments to Oiling Point Of Fur Mats (Using Olive Oil To Remove Clumps Of Matted Fur)

  • Wow, that’s really neat!

  • Trinity

    Has anyone successfully tried this and it worked? It’s been 2 days and no luck yet. And I came home from work today to see that she licked a patch of her fur off next to the mat :( she’s got a patch of skin showing :( not sure if I should worry or not?

    • Many people do this, but (as you see) few post to my blog. Dozens of my own clients use this technique. If you’ve waited 2 days and nothing has happened, I suspect you’ll want to re-apply using more oil this time.

      Just to confirm… you’re using *olive* oil, right? Not vegetable oil or baby oil? Those would be really not good to use and could cause problems if she’s ingesting them. In fact, if you used anything other than olive oil, you might want to call your vet ASAP to ask whether they want you to bring her in ASAP to make sure she’s ok.

      I’ve never known a cat to over-groom due to the olive oil before. But many cats over-groom around mats because they’re a painful, tangled mess. They tend to lick a lot where they feel pain or discomfort such as itching, tingling, sharp pains of fresh wounds, dull pains of chronic muscle or joint pain, etc. That’s one of the (many) reasons why it’s so important to prevent and treat matted fur as soon as we notice it. It’s just so awful to feel that constant pulling of their hair.

  • Trinity

    Yes i used olive oil :) maybe she just noticed the mat more because of me treating it. It’s right next to the mat where she was licking extra all of a sudden. Thank you. I will try another dose. It looks like it def is releasing from the hair (the ends of the mat look sort of fluffy like they are releasing hard to explain) but still tight on the root – it prob needs another dose. I just wanted to double check that this was a safe method bc there weren’t a lot of comments. You’ve put me at ease. Thank you so much!

  • Judy

    Hello; Our new addition “Bob” joined us last winter. He was a feral cat and chose us as his new owners! Long haired, not neutered and was horribly matted. We gave him a “outside” home, as it is very cold in our neck of the woods. Plus a good diet and fresh water. Within a few months he was becoming more friendly and beginning to really like being loved and petted. In the spring I got him into the TNR program through our local humane society. (trap, neuter, release) He was neutered, given shots and shaved!!! Sporting his new “lion cut” he was so happy and proud and at peace. He did have skin sores from the matting but within a few weeks, was enjoying himself and now he likes to come into the house for his afternoon nap! So here we are, the next spring, his hair is matted again in a few places and I began dreading the process of having him shaved as he is only friendly with us and no one else. Which meant he would need to be put to sleep again to be groomed as he is not a domestic cat by any means. He does let us brush him, but not for very long, and he has claws that penetrate with touch!!! So we do our best and I will not give up trying. Hence your article on OLIVE OIL. I am going to begin this treatment, and I will let you know if this looks like a better way to approach the matting issues. Thank you!

    • Since Bob allows you to brush him… Do you have a Furminator? ( Brushing him with it once a week or so would prevent the mats from developing. It’s the only brush designed to target the loose undercoat fur, which is usually what gets the mat started. It’s well worth the investment in a Furminator because you can avoid another trip to the vet and anesthesia. Ugh. I wouldn’t use a Furminator in areas that already have mats developing – it would be too painful. But maybe the next time he is mat-free, try out the Furminator?

  • Lynn Roy

    Would this work on my rabbit?

  • Erin

    Thanks ! It took five days and It worked! My cat had a large one on her back above her tail, I put the olive oil on Sunday and reapplied three days later and it fell off last night wow!

  • Erin

    Hi Kari, I couldn’t figure out how to post the pictures here so I sent you them to your email :)

    Kari edited this comment to insert the following photos.




    Closer shot of the “BEFORE”: Before 2

    Close-up of the MATS THAT FELL-OFF: Mat

    Closer shot of the “AFTER” so you see there is no bald spot: After 2

    Cheese resting happily Cheese napping

  • Wendi

    The olive oil works great. My cat had some very large matted areas, but how do I get the olive oil off her fur?

    • Getting the olive oil out of the fur is not easy. Personally, I just let it gradually & naturally go away.

      (I know it looks funny & can continue to create oil stains on stuff.) There are remedies for getting olive oil out of human hair that work for cats and are not toxic to cats. However, the products used smell so yucky to cats that many people use them to deter cats. So I, personally, wouldn’t apply them to a cat’s coat since kitty can’t escape the offensive (to them) smell. I’m afraid to even list those remedies here for fears that doing so might cause a kitty to be subjected to that smell. But if you search for “removing olive oil from hair” and then find the things that work, search for those items along with the words “toxic to cats” you’ll get some answers. ;-)

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