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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 slide right off the hair without the individual hairs actually falling out.

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

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

  • Penny

    I’m so glad I came across this in my search for a solution. One of our cats had several mats, what appeared to be spreading up her back from her tail. There is no way I’d get this feral feline into a crate, nor would she allow me to try and get the mats out. I was excited to try your suggestion of olive oil. Fortunately she will allow us to feed her and pet her when she’s eating as odd as that sounds. I was able to feed treats one at a time with one hand and use the syringe of oil in the other. After using two 3mL syringes of extra virgin olive oil, the next morning a saw significant improvement. The second night I put another syringe of oil on the second mat and 2 days later, she’s free of her mats!! I will share this tip with everyone. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  • Candace Gillespie

    Thank you so much for posting this incredibly helpful information. I have an older very temperamental cat who will not tolerate a carrier let alone a groomer. Just one day later, two of the mats that I oiled fell out. She has been running around like a young cat and is so much happier! I think she actually enjoys the way the olive oil taste although she’s not very keen about it being applied. Thanks again!

  • Maham pasha

    Hi! How are you?
    I have used your olive oil technique before and it worked. My cat was quite sick but has now recovered. He has some serious matts all over his skin. I didn’t have olive oil so I have applied liquid coconut oil. I will purchase olive oil tomorrow and re apply. Will this work? I really want to see him stress free soon. His matts are so tight!

    • Great question. I’ve never used coconut oil to remove mats. I’m not sure whether it does the same things to the pores/hair follicles that olive oil does. (I use it for MANY other things with my hospice cats. For example, it’s great for wounds – promotes healing & reduces pain/itching.)

      Will you let us know how it goes? I would like to know if it works.

  • honey

    We took in my brother’s cat Honey who is 15 years old, really dislikes combing, to the point of hissing and biting. She does this at the vet or the groomers. I accidentally nicked her skin with the clippers. Very small cut and it healed well. But It kinda traumatized me and the cat probably. I tried to find other ways and found your post on here. I will be trying it tomorrow. Due to her age, she doesn’t groom her self very well that’s the reason for the mats. Does this have the same effect if the cat doesn’t lick the spot? How many times should I re-apply if the mats are really close to the skin? Once in the morning and night should be enough?

    • YES, it doesn’t matter whether they lick the area or not. The only real difference if they lick the area is that it will take more oil (or more frequent applications). In fact, most of my clients who do this regularly do it with older cats who aren’t grooming as much in their senior years.

      Without seeing in person, it’s tough to guess how much, how often, & how frequently to re-apply. The time it takes to work varies a lot from mat-to-mat and cat-to-cat. (Gee, why didn’t I call this post “Mat on the Cat” or “Cat with a mat”?) It depends on how much oil gets to the skin when applied, how big the mat is, how tightly knotted the mat is, etc. I’ve used this technique enough that I can usually apply the “right” amount the first time (just one application) so I don’t have to reapply. That said, I opt for one initial application of “too much” oil (rather than “too little”), then I wait for 2-3 days before reapplying. No need to apply morning and night.

      (It sounds like you already know this, but I’ll copying it here cuz some folks only read the first few comments & this is absolutely crucial for the oil trick to work.) This works best when the olive oil is applied to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to the skin. In fact, I’ve found that there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using this olive oil technique is not about detangling a tangled clump of fur. Rather, it’s about opening the pores where the hairs in the mat are coming out of the skin. The oil causes the pores to open a bit and release the fur in the mat.

  • Kylie

    Thank you for this miracle tip! My poor ragdoll had a rather big mat on his belly and I was stressing about how to best help him. When I initially put the olive oil on him I was very hopeful but also a little sceptical that oil could make a mat fall right off..
    Three days later, I see him rolling around on the floor with the dreaded mat right next to him – thank you thank you thank you! Very glad I did some research and stumbled upon your website

  • Karli Clark

    So I’m curious. Can this work for poop stuck in long hair? If you’ve already answered it I apologize, I read many questions and didn’t see it.
    My girl is in a lot of Discomfort and doesn’t have a appointment for a couple weeks so looking for a bit of help. Thanks a lot

    • Oh, what an awesome question! I don’t know. I’ve never used it for that issue. My hunch is that it *would* work because it’ll still cause the pores to open and for the hair follicles to slide out and the fur to fall off?

      If you try it, will you report back so we can learn from it?

      • Karli Clark

        Of course!! Your response time is flawlessly! I went and bought the syringe last night! It’s just gonna be tough because a he’s very sore around there, the poor girl. Your video shows a very well behaved, gentle cat with an easily accessible spot to get at so I was wondering.. Do you have any tips for a situation pretty much the opposite of that? Haha.. I’m only holding off because I’m a tad nervous. Grumpy (understandably, walking with poo on her) tough area to reach, also sore but in the long run she really wants it gone and is happy when she notices results.

        • If the oil is room-temperature, they won’t feel you applying it unless you touch part of the mat or their skin. So… It depends on the individual and what kinds of things distract them. But I’d find a way to sneak up on them when their focus and attention is elsewhere. Perhaps I’d sneak up on them when they’re sleepy or even asleep if they won’t freak out when they wake up? (Does your girl become more laid-back if she’s lounging in spots of sun?) Perhaps I’d apply it while they’re distracted by food or treats or by something visually engrossing outside the window? (Again, only if she will not freak out about it. Some cats startle easily and are a bit violent when startled. Don’t sneak up on her if she’s that kind of person.) What if one of her favorite people was slowly giving her treats (so she was focused on their hands and the treat container) while another favorite person was behind her applying oil?

          You could restrain her, following the tips some people give for trimming claws. But the whole reason I like using oil is that it does *not* normally cause any upset.

          FWIW, the girl in my video really surprised me. Normally she is VERY skittish and afraid. But when I hit “record” she was suddenly very comfortable with me. That might have been the first time I had actually touched her in many years. (I have been her cat sitter/nanny since she was a tiny baby and care for her several times a year. I don’t know why she suddenly decided I was a-ok?)

  • Sheila Todd

    Gracie my 8 yr old female cat, has had a bad mat on her lower back, over the months I tried to comb it out, cut it out, she won’t let me mess with it very long,it’s been almost a year now that she’s had this mat, I’m realizing it’s hurting her, I was just about to take her to the vet (which is extremely stressful for her) when I found you all, The olive oil workd fine for her smaller mat that was on her back leg, but I’ve been applying the olive oil to the large mat for about four nights now it’s still not working should I continue to apply the olive oil every night or give it a couple days to dry up? I’m using an eyedropper to apply the olive oil underneath the mat that is best I can,

    • Without seeing in person, it’s tough to guess, but here are my thoughts… I’d guess that it’s because not enough oil is getting to the base of the large mat? It might be a case of adding more oil or it might be just waiting longer?

      For what most people would consider “large” mats that are not so big that we’re horrified when we see them, I’d guess that I’d fill the eyedropper at least 3-4 times during each application. For mats that are even larger, it would take far more oil. It’s just so tough to gauge without seeing & inspecting it.

      The time it takes varies a lot from mat-to-mat and cat-to-cat. (Gee, why didn’t I call this post “Mat on the Cat” or “Cat with a mat”?) It depends on how much oil gets to the skin when applied, how big the mat is, how tightly knotted the mat is, etc. I’ve used this technique enough that I can usually apply the “right” amount the first time so I don’t have to reapply. That said, I opt for “too much” oil rather than “too little”, then I wait for 2-3 days before reapplying.

      (It sounds like you already know this, but I’ll copying it here cuz some folks only read the first few comments & this is absolutely crucial for the oil trick to work.) This works best when the olive oil is applied to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to the skin. In fact, I’ve found that there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using this olive oil technique is not about detangling a tangled clump of fur. Rather, it’s about opening the pores where the hairs in the mat are coming out of the skin. The oil causes the pores to open a bit and release the fur in the mat.

  • Joy Noonan

    I have a 6 y/0 kitty that looks like the orange & white one that you pictured/posted about above. The fine, silky fur near his fanny is where he has gotten jumbo round poofy mats. I have tried to maintain his fur over the years w/clipping because he bites if I try to brush him. Clippers don’t work well because I have to ‘shave’ the mat off in layers and it usually turns into a blood bath (my blood). He is also not like regular cats with grooming, as in I never see him do it! That all said I’m hoping to try this oil method, but I’m wondering if you think it would be an issue since it’s near his anus? He is a neutered indoor only cat and despite his piggish ways, he is quite the love bug, but on his terms <3 I'm hoping for anyone's help w/this issue. Thanks in advance, Joy & Geddy Flea

    • Good question, Joy. It should be no problem that it’s near his anus. He might act like it tickles when you first apply and it dribbles into place. So he might lick that spot a bit more for a few minutes. But it’s ok for him to lick off the oil because it’s nontoxic.

  • Jacqueline

    Hi!!

    We just oiled our Maine Coon’s mat. She is so squirmy and pissed off whenever we get to her underbelly… We only managed to apply 1/2 of the syringe to her Mat. Is that

    ok? should we still try throughout the day?? She has many…. UGH poor baby…… our other 2 Maine Coons don’t have a problem with Mats thank god….thanks..

    • It’s tough to guess about amounts without being there and seeing the mats in person. For small mats, 1/2 a syringe would be enough to work. For large mats, it might take 2-3 full syringes. My preference is to lean toward using “too much” rather than using “too little”. Using too little will mean this won’t work and your effort was for naught. Using too much has no negative impact. I hope that helps?

      • Jacqueline

        Thank you Kari… My hubby wants to know….so you soak the whole Mat especially near where it attaches to the skin and pore area right?

        • Good question. The only part that needs to be soaked with oil is the skin where the fur is attached. I’ve found that there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself; just on the skin. Using this olive oil technique is not about detangling a tangled clump of fur. Rather, it’s about opening the pores where the hairs in the mat are coming out of her skin. The oil causes the pores to open a bit and release the fur in the mat.

          • Jacqueline

            thank you so much Kari…. will let you know what happens…

          • Jacqueline

            Sweet Baby Jesus!!!!!!! Guys no joke this works…. I have a really long haired Maine Coon and I literally found the mat on the floor the next day. Wow!! Thank you Kari xoxoxo

          • HOORAY!!! I’m SO THRILLED for you! Isn’t it just the most amazingly, bizarrely WONDERFUL solution?!!

          • Jacqueline

            yes, we tackled some small ones..now there is a super huge one we have to tackle that is really bothering her…

  • Jade

    Yes this works I’m so pleased but it takes on my cat as she is a 19 year old Persian cat , do you have any idea while it takes ages ? Thanks you jade and tia x

    • I think there are words missing your question, so I’m just assuming you’re saying it takes a long time for the mats to fall off when you use olive oil on her matted fur?

      WWithout knowing any other details, I’d guess that it’s either because not enough oil got to the base of the mat or because the mat involved so many hair follicles that it took a while for oil to loosen fur in each follicle? Perhaps it’s simply that her longer hair soaks up more of the oil so less of the oil gets to her pores where it can impact the mat? I would suggest that if it doesn’t fall off after 2-3 days, reapply.

      The time it takes varies a lot from mat-to-mat and cat-to-cat. (Gee, why didn’t I call this post “Mat on the Cat” or “Cat with a mat”?) It depends on how much oil gets *to the skin* when applied, how big the mat is, how tightly knotted the mat is, etc. I’ve used this technique it enough that I can usually apply the “right” amount the first time so I don’t have to reapply.

      (Sorry if you already know this. I mention it in other comments but you might not have read them.) This works best when the olive oil is applied to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to her skin. In fact, I’ve found that there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using this olive oil technique is not about detangling a tangled clump of fur. Rather, it’s about opening the pores where the hairs in the mat are coming out of her skin. The oil causes the pores to open a bit and release the fur in the mat.

      I’m not sure whether that helps?

      • Jade

        Thank you for your kind reply, yes I meant to say it takes sometimes weeks for the mat to fall off , she’s got woolly candy floss like coat and at this stage in her life she does not want to be brushed much or handled anymore , thank you so much for your advice you’ve saved her trips to the vet . Regards jade and tia

  • Ghazi Baki

    Dear Kari,
    “Kat” my ginger companion has two very nasty mats on her side. I have been dreading taking her to the vet for weeks now to address this issue. I read your blog and I was a bit skeptical as to what to expect. Nonetheless, I applied a few drops of olive oil via a syringe on the base of the Matting itself. For the next hour or so, “Kat” was licking and biting on it, and then went to sleep. This morning when I woke up, I found the mat on the floor.
    You have no idea how happy I was. I just hope the skin under the mat is not too irritated. I’ll give it a few days and will work on the second mat.
    Thank you for going through all possible details of this operation:) it made things much easier for me.

    • Hooray! I’m SO HAPPY FOR YOU BOTH! I was pretty skeptical when I first read about it, too. I’m not skeptical anymore but I’m still insanely giddy and amazed when I see it happen. To see a cat get up out of her bed and to see the mat left behind in the bed – that is just magical! If she’ll allow it, give Kat a kiss from me and tell her I say happy Not-Going-To-The-Vet-To-Get-Shaved day! :-D

  • Julie

    So glad I came across your site Kari, and everyone following this thread as it had been a lifesaver for my friends elderly rescue cat who was severely matted on her back and sides. They took her to the vets for an expensive sedate and shave when she first arrived which was very stressful for her, but within 2 months of the grow back she bacame matted again virtually overnight and also depressed and withdrawn because of her discomfort, which is when I came across your site searching for alternative solution to another shave ordeal. It has taken several weeks because of her timidity and reluctance to be treated, but the perseverance has paid off and she is eventually almost clear, with mats falling off on a daily basis now. She is even allowing us to tease the loose ones out gently and is getting used to being brushed gently on her clear areas and even enjoying it with lots of purrs and cuddles – which we never though we’d see the day!!! I found using the oil warmed to body temperature by standing in a bowl of hot water and applied with an ear dropper (while she was busy tucking into her favourite tuna fish!) to be better for her than the syringe as was a more gentle application and less stressful for her. We are all so grateful for the information we found on your site and can’t thank you enough Kari!

    • Oh wow, Julie! I am *sooooo* happy to hear this! I’m doing a little happy dance for your little one. What a fortunate girl to have a human so attuned to her stress levels and so willing to find more gentle approaches to her care.

      Great idea to make sure the oil isn’t cold. And an ear dropper is a fantastic idea – easier for most people to come by, too!

      Because she’s letting you brush her now, daily brushing might be the best way to prevent mats from forming in the future. Especially if you use a Furminator (http://www.karikells.com/Petsitter/2011/the-furminator-judgement-day-for-matted-fur-hairballs/) . That’s one product I recommend quite frequently and I wish I had some kick-backs from them. Ha ha!

      Hearing even just one story like this makes my heart sing. All I want to do is improve the lives of cats. It’s amazing to think that cats I haven’t met are benefiting from tips I’ve learned. Wow. Thank you, interwebs!

      • Julie

        Thank you Kari, we are doing the happy dance too as she is such a sweet little cat and getting better by the day! I will check back in with an update in a few weeks when hopefully she will be fully clear and let you know how we are getting on with the maintenance. But for anyone just tuning in, perseverance with this pays off and I wouldn’t worry about the quantities of oil or how often, just do what you can when you can and keep going with it – as we are living proof that it really does work given time and patience, even on severe matting. :)

      • Stacey

        I just have a question. Has anyone had their cat’s hair fall out because of the oil? I spilled some baby oil on my cat. The lid fell off as I was putting it away so she got at least 3 big tablespoons of oil on her back, top part of her head and on one of her ears. I washed her off as best as I could but as you know, oil is stubborn. She was okay otherwise. She had some white flakes over the past 2 weeks and starting losing her fur on her ear? She isn’t in pain or itchy. It’s just flaky on her ear and the hair is very thin. If baby oil is okay for babies, how can it be harmful to my cat? She didn’t ingest any of it. She’s just a wee bit bald on her ear and has a tiny bit of white flakes now. I have been using a comb on her to help with the flakes and it seems to be working. She’s a young cat, only 2 years old.

        • Weird! I have no idea! If it was pure mineral oil, it would be ok for a cat to even lick it off herself. But baby oil has other things in it (include fragrance), so I dunno. Of course, any individual could have an allergy to the ingredients in baby oil, I guess. Right?

          You asked “If baby oil is okay for babies, how can it be harmful to my cat?” Well, feline bodies are quite different than human bodies. Just because it’s safe for humans doesn’t mean it’s safe for cats. And vice versa. Think about chocolate and dogs. Is one Hershey’s bar going to cause organ failure for me? Nope. But it could kill a dog… Also consider that cats’ bodies digest and absorb things very differently from us, too. Some nutrients that we get from veggies and fruits are not at all useful for cats bodies. Their bodies simply do not absorb and use nutrients from non-meat sources the way that human bodies do. That’s why cats cannot eat vegetarian diets and remain healthy.

          On a slightly different topic… I’m so glad I’m not a plant. I LOVE salt and vinegar potato chips and french fries. Yet I use salt and vinegar on my yard to kill and prevent vegetation. I’m so glad that salt and vinegar doesn’t kill me!

          • Stace

            Who knows what the heck happened. She seems no worse for wear and is still my mischievous little baby. I am sure the hair will grow back. It’s only on her the outside of her ear and I know she didn’t ingest any.
            Also.. I love love LOVE vinegar!! My mouth waters when I smell it. I used to drink it when I was little!

          • LOL about drinking vinegar. Me, too! My favorite non-ice cream summer treat is sliced cucumbers that have been sitting in a bowl of vinegar with a little salt sprinkled on the cucks. “Most” people let this stand for a few hours – or even a day – before eating. “Most” people pour out the vinegar. Not me! I eat it like other people eat cereal for breakfast. And I drink the salty vinegar from the bowl just as people drink milk left in the bowl after eating cereal. :-D I am SO HAPPY that I’m not a dandelion! LOL!

  • Smurfy

    Once the oil is on the fur, how do you get it off, so kitty isn’t a grease ball? :)

    • That is a great question. I’m sorry to say that I have no answer. I just let it happen naturally as kitty grooms himself, as I brush him (if he’ll allow it), and as he moves about the world, rubbing against things and laying on blankets that I don’t mind getting oil on… If anyone has an answer, I’d love to know!

  • Jade

    My vet called me and said to come and collect my 18 year old Persian cat as she was under great distress and they have refused to clip her , she suffers from health issues and matted , so far she’s enjoying the oil massage and knots a little looser, I will keep you all informed , I’m praying this works . Thank you

  • Mehgan

    I’m not sure I’m applying enough oil in one go, as I only have a tiny dropper from an old bottle of Rescue Remedy that I washed thoroughly. George sure likes the taste of olive oil – I haven’t needed to bribe with treats! No action on the mats themselves yet, which are in his ruff, towards the space between his front legs. He’s a Siberian/Norwegian type – lots of mane fur and floofy pantaloons, and generally fluffy in all the right places. He had a mat on his hip/leg that he recently “took care of” himself, resulting in a $1,000 vet bill for surgery to close up the gash he tore in his skin. So I’m nervous about all the grooming he’s currently doing, aided by the yummy taste of olive oil. Our first application of oil was last night, and I put some more on this morning. I realized I was putting oil on the mats more than on the skin, so hopefully tonight’s application will be more beneficial.

    • I’m glad you put that second application on/near his skin. That’s really key. The goal isn’t to de-tangle the clump of fur, it’s to get the pores to release the fur so it can fall off.

      Creative thinking to use the Rescue Remedy dropper! It’s tough to know without seeing the mat, but I’d guess that it might take 2-3 droppers full (on the skin at the base of the mat)? Don’t count the dropper that was on the fur instead of on the skin. Very little of that oil will get down to the skin to work its magic.

      Ingesting a little olive oil is not a problem. Ingesting lots of fur, though, might create hairballs. So maybe use your go-to hairball prevention/treatment now?

      Poor guy, ripping that other mat off! Ugh!

      Will your little man allow you to brush him? If so, frequent brushing might help prevent future mats. Especially if you use a Furminator (http://www.karikells.com/Petsitter/2011/the-furminator-judgement-day-for-matted-fur-hairballs/) . As traumatic as it might be, you might have to come up with a way to prevent mats for him instead of treating them as they pop up. I know a few cats who are in that situation. They simply *will* get matted fur unless they’re brushed regularly or tiny mats are shaved off as soon as they’re noticed. Still… better than paying a groomer to anesthetize in order to shave off large mats or paying the surgereon to remove torn skin. Poor darling.

      Let me know how it goes.

      • Mehgan

        He has had regular grooming from a pro for a while now, about 3-4 times per year, but I don’t know what happened the last time. I think he was being reactive and didn’t let her work on him for very long. She usually gets them all out. I think I will invest in a Furminator to have better results on a regular basis, and so that we need the pro service less frequently.

        How frequently should I be re-applying oil? We’re now at the end of Day 2 of treatment… I’ll check the various drawers in the house to see if I have a larger dropper/syringe. He is intent on licking it all up…it might be “cone of shame” time until it falls off.

        • “How frequently should I be re-applying oil?” Hmmmmm. I guess that I’d say to give an application 2-3 days and if nothing happens, re-apply. And use more oil than the previous time.

          Really, it varies a lot. It depends on how much oil got to the skin in previous applications, how big the mat is, how tight the mat is, etc. I’ve used this technique it enough that I can usually apply the “right” amount the first time so I don’t have to reapply… If you want to upload (or email me) a photo of the mat, maybe I can give a better guess?

          The Furminator might totally eliminate your need for grooming? (fingers crossed!)

          Have you asked your vet about calmatives to give him before grooming appointments so the groomer can get more done? There are lots of non-pharmaceutical options, like Rescue Remedy, Zylkene, calming treats (Pet Naturals brand are my favorites), spritzing pheromone spray in the carrier, or even having dried lavendar in a sachet near his bed for a few days prior to the trip? There are medication options, too. But I lean away from those when there are effective non-pharmaceutical options.

  • Pam

    On the subject of peeing outside the box-my Persian, Sophie , 10 years old at the time, started peeing outside the box. She had NEVER done this before. I took her to the vet the next day, thinking she might have a UTI. She had a tumor around her bladder and bowel. She had to be put to sleep as there was nothing that could be done. Always have this checked. Cats that have always used a litter box and suddenly don’t have something wrong. Socially, physically , something is wrong and she’s trying to tell you.

  • Sasha

    Thank you for your lovely reply, Kari. Today, a wonderful lady called Sharon came to my house and managed to remove the painful matts from my beautiful Stanley. She was so patient and gentle with him in spite of his frantic behaviour, that when her work was done, Stanley didn’t run away and hide. It was as if he knew that Sharon was a kind and loving person who wanted to help him.

    Sharon found that the matted lump to which I’d applied olive oil was much easier to remove than the lump I didn’t treat.

  • Sasha

    My long-haired rescue cat Stanley is plagued by matts. He refuses to be brushed, and attacks the veterinarian trying to shave the matts. I’ve had to resort to having my poor darling boy given sedation to allow the removal of his rock-hard matts. I was so thrilled to read about your olive oil method. I loaded a small plastic syringe with extra virgin olive oil and squirted it at the base of one of the larger matts. Stanley was terrified. He behaved as if he’d been stabbed, running away, turning around in circles and generally behaving as if he’d gone out of his mind. Goodness knows whether he will ever again let me pet him. He certainly won’t let me get near him with the syringe again. What on earth do I try next? Shall I get a brave neighbour or two to bundle Stanley in a towel so as to keep him still for long enough to let me treat his other matts?

    • Oh, poor Stanley. Most of us love the way the oil feels on our skin; it’s warm and soothing. But Stanley clearly doesn’t like that it feels different. He’ll probably learn to trust you again, given enough time and patience. Sedation is sometimes the only way to go. Have you tried any calmatives, like pheromone spray/diffuser, Rescue Remedy, Zylkene, or things like that? Those might help him generally learn to trust and reduce his anxiety. Acupuncture might help, too. But good luck getting him to a vet and sitting still long enough for the vet to insert a few needles in his ears. ‘-)

      Sweet Stanley. I’m glad he has you as his advocate. I wish he knew that you were trying to make him more comfortable.

      What region do you live in? If you’re in Western Washington, I can recommend a few local people who can help with flower essences, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, and stuff like that.

  • Dee Collins

    I read thru your blog when my main coon presented with massive mats on both of her sides. She has been border-line feral, but since the death of the other female, has become more social with us. We had previously trapped her and had a vet shave a couple of tight mats, but presented with these other 2 that were very tight and uncomfortable. So i read about the EVOO and decided to give it a whirl. One word: AMAZING! I was skeptical that the mats would “disappear”, they really didn’t actually disappear, but they became somewhat detached from the skin which allowed me to cut them into sections (kind of like cutting a bratwurst). Once that happened, they were easily cut out.

    Some people referred to the area being raw or “angry” and Kitty did develop raw area around the mats, but that most likely came from her licking at the area, as I’m certain it felt very different as it loosened.

    Bottom line, she is majorly mat free, all the others are normal, every day long-haired cat encounters….very doable.
    Thanks for the help!
    DC

    • That’s great news, DC!

      If you didn’t want to cut them into sections, you could just apply a bit more olive oil and those mats would simply drop off of her after a while. I say “drop off” but I’ve never actually witnessed the moment that a mat “falls off”. Instead, I’ve seen kitties get up from a nap & their big huge mat is left behind on their blankie or bed. It’s pretty wild. And, yes, AMAZING!

      • Linda

        I have a 16 year old male cat He was diagnosed with liver/kidney disease in 2018 but he’s doing great BUT he’s not at all vet/groomer friendly! Kittymax is a rescue! Kittymax has lots of really bad mats I must say when I came across your site I thought olive oil REALLY but being desperate I tried it and continue to do so. The first big mat that was under his chest took about a week to come off I’m amazed!!! He is sooo much happier.Thank you for this information. I would have never thought to use olive oil!!! I can send a pic if you like the mat is big! Let me know! Kittymax and I thank you!

        • Yippie for Kittymax! Maximum Kitty Wonderfulness!! I’m SO HAPPY FOR YOU BOTH! Yes, please send me pictures & I’ll upload them here. If you have any before & after pix, that would also be awesome to see.

          Like you, I was also skeptical when I first read about this. From the first time it worked until the present, I’m still insanely GIDDY and amazed when I see it happen. To see a cat get up out of her bed and to see the big ol’ mat left behind in the bed – it is just magical. And it is life-changing for cats who used to be subjected to vet/groomer visits where a loud, scary buzzing clipper is used on them. (Some cats don’t mind that attention, but many find it traumatic.)

  • Liam

    My cat got some sticky glue on her fur, and Googling told me that vegetable oils could help. All we had on hand was extra virgin olive oil, and it helped get rid of the glue, but now I’ve read that the stuff can be dangerous and even fatal. I washed my girl off and got as much oil out as I could, but now I’m extremely concerned I messed this up very badly. Do I need to take my girl to the vet, or anything?

    • I’ve never heard of any study – or even anecdotes from doctors – saying that olives, olive pits, or olive oil is toxic for cats. Of course the pits could be chocking hazards. But there are no chemicals in olives or olive oil that could harm cats.

      Now, “vegetable oil” is something entirely different. “Vegetable oil” and “olive oil” are completely different products. Some doctors say vegetable oil would be ok in small amounts once or twice in a cats lifetime. But I, personally, would never let my cats ingest vegetable oil. Frankly, it’s quite unhealthy for humans also, so I never have it in my home. I don’t even eat foods that have vegetable oil in them.

      Please talk with your vet to ensure that the info you’re getting is reliable. (I do not mean to imply that someone who went to med school understands nutrition better than the average Joe. Most veterinarians only learn nutrition from one class in med school, usually using a textbook written by a well known pet food manufacturer and often taught by a “guest lecturer” paid for by that same pet food manufacturer. That is, few vets know about science and chemistry as it relates to nutrition. Some areas of the country have doctors who are more knowledgeable, but some areas of the country have no nutrition literate vets at all.)

  • I just want to say THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!! I just tried it yesterday morning then my cat’s 2 inch matted ball came off in the evening!!! My cat is scared of machinery noises, so shaving is not the option. Also his fur and skin are very sensitive. I have been cutting the matted fur a little by little but this time of the year, it’s forming the fur balls everyday. This method really the one savior for me and for my Himalayan cat boi :) Thank you Kari!

    • Awwww, thanks for letting me know. Hooray for your special big boi! :-)

      Thanks to people who email and call me with their “thank you” messages, too. I appreciate knowing how many cats are getting to avoid the clipper and scissor treatments. ‘-)

  • Marianne

    Wow I just had to say this is fantastic. I have a lovely somewhat skittish Siberian Forest cat (ex breeder so she is only just getting used to us). she had a horrible few mats on her neck and I had tried all sorts of brushing and was about to resort to trying scissors although everything I read said not to…or take her to the vet to be shorn )not a good thought either). Then I came across this post…and thought it was worth a try…. syringe was ok but she moved a bit so I found putting some on my hands and rubbing in to the mat (they were quite small which made them even harder to deal with!) was the best idea… she looked pretty tragic…like she had been trying her big sisters hair products and I can’t say she loved it…but it was Ok and better yet mat after mat fell off. It was quite amazing watching them work their way out and the today the worst (and smallest and tightest) was the last to go.
    So thank you for this!!!

    • Hooray! I’m so glad that your sweetie benefited and that you got to experience the magic. Yeah, using scissors on mats causes the fur to be pulled from the skin and we assume it feels similar to when humans have a clump of hair pulled. Ouch! It can be a very painful experience. And with her still learning to trust you, I’m glad you were able to avoid doing that.

      I love your description of her with the oil in the mats “like she had been trying her big sisters hair products”. LOL!

      I haven’t had luck rubbing the oil into the mats. I’d love to hear how you did that or maybe see a video? I’ve only had luck when the oil is applied to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to her skin. In fact, I’ve found that there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using this olive oil technique is not about detangling a tangled clump of fur. Rather, it’s about getting the hairs that anchor the mat to her pores to release the mat and set it free. (Sorry if you already knew that. I mention it in other comments but you might not have read them.)

      • MARIANNE

        Hi ya
        I did read what you said about the point being below the mat so I put a little bit on my thumb and finger and used that to try and get to the right spot… using the syringe I found it hard to make sure I was in th right spot.. they were small and tight so I could find the spot below using feel. I am sure I got some on th mat as well but it worked ok!
        Thanks again….she seems much happier and is am sure I got rid of them before they got to be a bigger problem.
        Cheers
        Marianne
        Ps I live in Australia so your idea is spreading worldwide!

  • Vicki

    This totally works! We are amazed! Our results were just like in Erin’s photos below. We used a syringe as Kari recommends and found it worked best when we took care to squirt the oil around all sides of the mat base. The big mats took a couple applications over several days but the small ones came off after one application. Definitely try this method before resorting to cutting or shaving. Don’t know why it works but our kitty is so grateful :-)

  • Anjali

    Two huge mats have fallen off and one small one left to go. This has saved me trapping her and taking her in for shaving under sedation. We both thank you! (And yes she is already spayed!)

  • Anjali

    Thanks for this! I have two feral cats (I cared for them outdoors for years and then trapped them and brought them in a couple of years ago). I can actually full on pet one of them but even after years of trying the other does not allow me to pet her — guess which one has horrible mats. I am contemplating trapping her and getting her shaved at the vet under sedation but will try the olive oil method first. Just hoping I can get close enough for long enough to apply the syringe to the right place under the mat as quickly as possible.

    • Awww, thank you for helping the feral cats! You’re a kindred spirit with me. :-) One thing to consider is that after the feral cat has “fallen for” a trick to trap her, she might never fall for it again. So if there are any other things you want to accomplish while she’s at the vet, you might as well get those done too. (Getting her spayed if she isn’t already? Dental check-up?) I suspect you’ve already thought of that and you’ve probably already gotten her spayed. Anybody this concerned about her matted fur has probably already done those things. :-)

  • Ishrat qureshi

    Do cats vomit due to olive oil? I applied olive to his mats and he vomited twice. It’s been 7 days and the mat has not fallen off or loosened. Any help?

    • Hmmm. I’ve never seen or heard of olive oil causing vomiting. I suppose it’s possible if it’s ingested and it’s rancid. (If it was rancid, you’d smell it when you opened the bottle). Or if they over-groom areas with the oil on it they might ingest more fur than usual and end up with hairballs?

      If it’s been 7 days and there’s no change, it sounds like either (1) there wasn’t enough oil to make a difference or (2) it wasn’t applied on the skin at the base of the mat. It’s important to apply the oil to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to his skin. In fact, there doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using olive oil isn’t about detangling a tangled mess of fur. Rather, it’s about getting the hairs anchoring the mat to her pores to release the mat and set it free. (Sorry if you already knew that. I mention it in other comments but you might not have read them.)

      So if it were me, I’d re-apply after a couple days.

  • Sherry McClurg

    I have an elderly cat. I didn’t realize that sometimes cats stop grooming themselves when they get very old. So she has quite large mats on her back. I tried the olive oil. One mat at a time, like you said. You never said how much olive oil is enough. So the first time I used 1 Tablespoon (that’s 3 teaspoons), waited two days-nothing happened to the largest mat (golf ball and a half, size). So then I put almost two Tablespoons at the base of the mat. There was a parting of the fur there so I think it was applied in the right place. Waited two more days–three more–nothing. She got terribly oily, and licked at her fur twice as much. So I am reluctant to try more. I want to avoid taking her to a vet or groomer. She’s very timid and terrified of going to a vet. Maybe such big mats will take longer or need more oil?

    • Yeah, I didn’t write an amount because it varies depending on quite a few issues such as the size of the mats, whether their fur is long or short, whether they have silky smooth fur or coarse fur, etc. You can’t use “too much” in terms of causing harm because olive oil is harmless for them. Most of us like the feel of olive oil on our skin but some people (and cats) might not like feeling anything on their skin. So maybe that’s why she’s licking at it so much?

      It’s important to apply the oil to the *base* of the mat, where it attaches to his skin. There doesn’t need to be any oil at all on the mat itself. Using olive oil isn’t about detangling a tangled mess of fur. Rather, it’s about getting the hairs anchoring the mat to her pores to release the mat and set it free. (Sorry if you already knew that. I mention it in other comments but you might not have read them.)

  • Shea

    Hi! Thanks for this tip! I do have another question now, though. You mentioned in response to another person that you know of a way to restrain a cat that actually increases security, instead of causing extra stress. Could you please share that? I have a large Maine Coon who is sweet but loses it when she is restrained. Often I am the only one available to clip her nails or demat her. I’d love some tips! I’ve just been wrapping her in a towel; but if you have any ideas or product recommendations I would appreciate it!

    • Wrapping her in a towel (a purrito – LOL) is a great option for handling cats at home. I think what I mentioned earlier was about restraint techniques used in vet clinics. Most are pretty aggressive and upsetting (even traumatizing) to shy cats or those who mistrust humans as a general rule. In fact, I’ve found that most groomers have a better handle on good techniques than veterinary clinic staff do. (In my city, though, there are a couple vets and vet techs who are *excellent* at handling cats. Not all cities are fortunate to have gentle vets though.) At home, it usually calls for different techniques. You know – most cats behave differently with us at home than they act when they’re taken to vet clinics.

      It’s tough to come up with ideas without knowing your darling girl personally. I’ve come up with different techniques depending on the individual. I used to have a cat who freaked out if he saw me approaching him but was chill if he didn’t see me approaching. So with him, I’d wait for him to be asleep and would take a soft blanket and cover him with it – including covering his head. He didn’t mind if I moved a portion of the blanket off of him as long as he felt hidden. So I’d pull off one portion of the blanket to expose whatever part of him I needed access to. If I did that, he didn’t fight and I could easily do what I needed to do. I’ve had other cats who hated being covered by blankets or towels and they seemed to need to watch me when I did anything to them.

      Do you have any friends who are intuitive cat people? If so, maybe you can invite them over to help you figure out ideas for how to restrain your kitty when you’re on your own?

      One reason I love this olive oil technique is that cats don’t seem to mind at all. The oil actually feels good to them. Trimming claws, though. Ugh. I’m sorry to say that I struggle with that, too. Even my 3-legged guy often gets the best of me. He has some very effective wiggling and swatting routines. -sigh-

  • Jenny

    Can this olive oil trick work on my lhasa apso pets because their hair is extremely tangled and it’s not funny cutting it off all the time.

  • Florence Lim

    Hello Kari tks for ur prompt reply. i tried putting on only the targetted patch area using the cotton bud. N this worked! required only a day. this morning, i wanted to try on a 2nd dose but the matted patches were gone(i couldn’t see them fall off but probably, the knots were loosen on my guinea pig) . thank you ! must share this with my fellow guinea pig moms=)

  • Florence Lim

    Hello. I have spotted 2 small areas of matted fur which is quite tricky to handle for my GUINEA PIG because they are located at the chest and chin area. i can’t flip em over as lying them on their back is bad for them. Any experience of ur olive oil method on guinea? Would be of great help as my guinea pig was totally pissed when i attempted to cut the matted area slowly.

    • Awww, your poor dear. I’m sorry I do not have experience using olive oil on guinea pigs. I’m sure you can ask your veterinarian whether olive oil is ok. Explain why you’re asking and whether having your guinea pig licking it off his fur would be ok *if* the little one did lick some of it off.

  • Chris

    My male tabby cat has many clumps of matted fur along the side and onto his back on both sides.
    I decided to try this method, firstly applying olive oil to the mats, this identified the clump more clearly.
    After this I carefully managed to tram down the clump so it was just above the skin without hurting the cat.
    Then massaged olive oil into the remaining clump, as if by a miracle in less than 24 hours the cat is clump free and happy.
    Be very careful if you decide to use scissors anywhere near a cat! You don’t want any injuries.
    I guess just using olive oil would take a little longer without any cutting.
    I thank you very much for posting this method, no anaesthesia or shaving of the cat.
    Well done!

  • Jen

    my parents 17 year old cat was severely matted and we were considering taking him to a groomer, before I tried this. totally worked! he’s now matte free after 5 days of actively reapplying, now all we have to do is give him a good water less bath and he should be good as new. I did notice some licking as well, but it wasn’t excessive or anything. in fact I would almost say it helped with removing the matted fur as it drew his attention to the necessary spots. I will definitely recommend this method to others! So thanks, you totally saved me like $300!

  • Karen

    . Yes it works my cat had tons of mats and over time about a week it began. Now 2 weeks she free of all mats p

  • Griffy

    Thank you for this post! Our 21 year old has developed some mats on his hip area. I applied some oo to the base yesterday. This mod ing found 2 large clumps & later in the day noticed him pulling out another as he groomed. Worked well!another

  • maria

    My room mate has a cat, Paulie (girl) that was alone for 3 months and recently introduced into our cat household. I have been so uncomfortable with her level of mattedness and my room mate seems to be too busy so I took the responsibility of looking for techniques. the pet groomers dont accept pets without vaccine papers (she lost them) so ive applied olive oil to the poor kitty. i dont have a syringe but tried to soak her fur where it is bad. i really hope this works because the cPaulie is peeing everywhere and i think its from the depression of being alone. my room mate claims she doesnt know how to clean herself but i really doubt that. Wish me luck…

    • Poor Paulie. (Poor you for wanting a better life for this cat than your roommate is willing to provide! Very frustrating for you, I’m sure!) If she “doesn’t know how to clean herself”, she is one of those extremely rare cats who has learning disabilities that prevents them from knowing basic kitty life skills. I highly doubt that’s the case here.

      If Paulie doesn’t groom herself, after the mats are removed, regular brushing will be very important to prevent mats from forming again. Mats are extremely painful because the fur under the mats is so tangled it feels like someone is pulling on their hair in each of those spots. It could be that removing the matted clumps also eliminates the urination problem.

      My vet says that inappropriate urination is sorta a cat’s way of screaming to tell us something is awfully wrong. It might be physical or psychological. But I think it’s quite important to stress that if Paulie is urinating inappropriately, she needs to see a doctor ASAP.

      Peeing outside the box is often a sign of serious medical problems, some of which can be fatal if left untreated. Yes, you read that right – CAN BE FATAL IF LEFT UNTREATED! Also, peeing outside the box can become habitual to the point that even if it’s due to a medical condition and that condition is treated, the peeing might continue as a life-long issue. So getting her seen by a doctor IMMEDIATELY is the best way to ensure that peeing does not become something that happens for the rest of her life.

      How long was she isolated before being introduced to other animals in the house? If she was introduced too quickly, that can cause inappropriate urination problems also.

      Yes, stress and upset can cause cats to pee outside the box. Stress and upset can also cause serious medical problems. So, again, having a doctor see her is best. If your roommate can’t afford to get the kitty to the vet… Please try to find local organizations that can help pay vet bills. Otherwise, Paulie might be suffering for a prolonged time. So not taking her to the vet is not just irresponsible, it is very cruel.

      Sorry to be a bit heavy-handed and pushy about this. But I’ve seen too many cats suffer needlessly from medical problems that were not addressed soon enough. It breaks my heart to hear of situations like this.

      Thank you for loving Paulie enough to try to help her with the matted fur and whatever pain/discomfort is causing the peeing problem. Paulie is fortunate to have someone like you as an advocate. Best wishes to both of you!

    • PS – I should also say that “soaking” the fur mats can work, but the most important part is getting oil on the surface of the skin under the mat, not on the mat itself. We’re not trying to detangle the matted fur, we’re trying to loosen things on and under the skin where the hairs go into the skin. Sorry that might not be clear in my post or video. :-)

  • Thank you so much for your reply! I will let you know for sure!

    • LOL. I knew what ya meant. LOL.

      I, personally, have not used this technique on dogs but I think it should work on any sort of fur or hair. I think our hair follicles and pores all have similar enough structures that the oil would open the pores and loosen the individual hairs out of the glassy membrane it’s in while still in the skin.

      I’m certain that it can’t hurt. If you give it a try, please come back and let us know how it goes!

  • Hi there I’ve read a lot of these comments and most of them concern cats. I have to 10 month old Cock-a-shons part Cocker part Bichon frizzy will this work for them? Thank you!

  • Becky

    Amazing! Huge mat fell off on third day after Olive Oil application. Thank you!

  • kim

    I have been looking for a way to de-mat my Persian girl – she is very patient and used to it but it doesn’t make me feel any better about mats once they’ve formed. This sounds like a way to handle these without putting her through getting rolled up in a towel for grooming and clippers – which she hates poor thing.I will be sure to elt you know how it goes. Thank you and wish me luck!

  • First – using a liquid soap dispenser is absolutely BRILLIANT! Well done, you!

    Hmmmm, my go-to tip is using a syringe (without a needle), like you see in the video. (Well, now I have 2 go-to tips, thanks to YOUR amazing problem solving.)

    Here are the first thoughts that pop into my brain when I read your question:

    * Ideally the oil is applied to the base of the mat, where it attaches to his skin. This is really about applying oil to the skin under the mat than applying it to the mat. Rather than thinking of this as detangling a tangled mess, think of it as getting the hairs anchoring this thing to his pores to release the mat and set it free. (Sorry if you already knew that. I can’t remember whether I mention it clearly in the video or above. I mention it now because rubbing it on your hands probably isn’t going to get to those hairs attached at the middle of the clumps.)

    * If your man is easily distracted by treats, how can ya make him sit still for them?

    * You might try using calmatives. Sorry I haven’t written that blog post yet. I need to do it! Some of the things written about at http://www.karikells.com/Petsitter/2014/from-super-shy-to-super-fly-helping-shy-pets-be-more-comfy-when-youre-away/ might help: calming treats, Rescue Remedy, pheromone spray, dried lavender… ?

    * Casey was the perfect helper for the video and was very cooperative. Most cats will either allow their trusted family members to do this, or they’ll wriggle and threaten family members but will be more docile if less-trusted less-familiar humans try manipulating them. Your little guy might be telling you that ya’ll need help from someone less responsive to his dramatic resistance tactics?

    * I wonder whether you could get 3 pairs of hands so one is holding his front arms, one is holding his hind legs, and all work together to flip him on his back while the third pair of hands applies the oil?

    * It is sometimes easier to just take them to a good (cat-friendly, cat-whisperer) groomer. If that’s less stressful for you, it’ll be less stressful for kitty/doggie too.

    If you end up finding something that works, PLEASE come back and let us know. My brain files away any tips I get about this, so we can use it to help others in the future.

  • Haz

    Hi Kari,

    Our British Longhair mix cat has got some big mats on his chest and under his arms – it’s a really tricky place to get to which I think is why we haven’t noticed until now – the rest of his fur is fine. We’ve been trying to olive oil him but we’re finding it almost impossible to get it on there – we’ve tried rubbing some on with our hands, and then I tried squirting some on using the nozzle of an old liquid soap dispenser but we can’t get anywhere near enough to cover the mats and he hates it. Some of it is in the middle of his chest too, which we wouldn’t be able to get to without flipping him fully over on his back, and he definitely won’t let us do that! Do you have any tips on how to tackle these really difficult areas? Thanks so much!

  • Spirit Wiseman

    My cats are 19 years old……one cat gets groomed once or twice a year the other cat has never needed it. Recently they both became suddenly and horribly matted. My groomer of 10 years came and refused to groom them…she tried and Rosie (my groomed regular cat) got a cut from her machine as her skin is so thin……I saw your info about the olive oil and putting it on them with the hyperdermic needle with the needle taken out so you can get the oil close to the bottom of the matt. The entire under belly of Gracie had two mats that ran the length of her stomach…….I did the olive oil and some other tool and in a few days Gracie’s belly is completely clear….actually i got rid of all the mats on her.!!!!!!!…..I knew she would not have done well at the vets……..Rosie’s skin is very thin so realize now can only use olive oil so just working on her now……hoping we can have the same miracle but she is quite frail I really appreciate your info on the olive oil and Gracie is a testimony of the success of this approach……Pray will work for Rosie too

  • kelly

    Hello Kari!

    Will this work on mats behind a dog’s ears too? I just adopted a Leonberger 11 month old puppy who has never been groomed properly. She has two VERY large mats behind her ears and the vet couldn’t get them out with clippers as the noise scared her. I do not want to have to have her sedated want to try this. Please let me know as I would like to try it if I can.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

    • I would be cautious about using it in areas where it might dribble down into the ears. But, yes, it should work anywhere on the body.

      • kelly

        I tried it. No worries about it getting in her ears due to the location. 1/2 of one has already come off so I just re-oiled them and will see if that does the trick. Thanks!

  • Taryn

    Thank you! This worked great! Applied the olive oil Friday evening and it was gone this morning (Monday)!

  • Anam Siddiqui

    M cat was sufferd from clumping on hair and so much skin alergy so please suggest me sone tip and so much hair fall

    • Do I understand: your cat has allergies that made her hair fall out? If I understand right, this is a problem that a doctor needs to help with. I think it is best to find a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition or dermatology (skin problems). I know these specialists are not available in all areas. But if a general practice doctor can not figure out the problem, it’s best to find a specialist.

      I’m sorry I don’t have a perfect answer for you.

  • Ed G

    So far have applied olive oil to the base of the mats and she seems to be licking the area more but no adverse affects so far and the mats are starting to come loose. It looks like things are progressing. She’s not very happy with me but I’m sure she’ll be happier once they are gone. Thank you.

  • Ed G

    I have a 10 yo female long haired cat with serious mats below her neck on her chest. Cut off the top away from her skin and just heard of the olive oil treatment. I have applied a liberal amount around the base of the mats with an eye dropper and am waiting for the results. I’ll re-post in a few days. I did read on one web site that olive oil may be hard for cats to metabolize. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated. I don’t want to use too much.

    • If cats ingest small amounts of olive oil, it’s perfectly safe. Many veterinarians even prescribe using olive oil as an occasional hairball remedy. (I use fiber for that, not olive oil. But I know many people who do use olive oil this way.) Certainly the amount of olive oil a cat might ingest when grooming after I’ve applied olive oil to matted fur is significantly smaller than what I’d give for hairballs.

      Being unable to metabolize a food is entirely different from being unable to digest something or being intolerant or allergic to something. Being unable to metabolize something doesn’t automatically mean it’s unsafe or bad. It means chemical nutrients in that food are not efficiently absorbed and used by the body. This is oversimplifying, but basically the food and nutrients just come out in the waste instead of being used by the body. It passes through the digestive system without nutrients getting into the bloodstream in ways that are typical of foods that we do metabolize efficiently. It’s less like a food being toxic or something you’re allergic to and more like being something that doesn’t act as food. Like eating a pebble, which would just come out in your poo. Again, this is oversimplifying, but hopefully helps explain the vast difference between unable to metabolize something vs having something be unsafe or unhealthy.

      I’d suggest asking your veterinarian if you’re worried. But please note that very, VERY few veterinarians understand much about nutrition. So you might want to search your area for a veterinary nutritionist for a complete answer to questions about food and cats.

      And of course, if you’re worried about it, there’s no need to try using this technique. Clippers will also do the trick. Especially if you apply too little olive oil because applying will result in absolutely nothing happening with the mat. So it would be pointless to apply only a small amount of olive oil to the mat.

  • Cindy

    My cat is a maincoon and had surgery for constipation and he came home with sticky matted hair under his neck he can’t groom there.will oil work on sticky stuff

    • Hmmm, I don’t know. It can’t hurt to try, but if it doesn’t work you’ll just end up with a bigger mess.

      You might ask the vet clinic who did the surgery to shave the sticky, matted fur off. A customer-centered clinic would do it at no cost if it was a situation they created. ;-)

  • Suzi

    Kari, thank you so very very much for your help and guidance. The coconut oil is a liquid. Natures Way Liquid Coconut premium oil non-gmo. I’m not sure if that’s still bad. I will be avoiding it regardless. Maybe for her skin? Aloe for skin?
    I’ve been giving her 1mg of RxVitamins for pets. It’s called Liquid Nutricalm with her food since yesterday. The directions call for 2mg but I don’t want to overdue it. It is supposed to work as a sedative. This seems to be helping with her irritation and stress. I’m afraid to do more olive oil but there are more mats and it did help loosen them. I wish you were within my location. I’m in Long Valley, NJ. A bit far. hehe. I’m torn between trying this myself (I live alone and would be able to get my niece to help), or just let the vet handle my mess I’ve created and let them sedate her. I know exactly what you mean about trust. I don’t want her to get traumatized. I’ve no idea what her life was like. I was told she lived at the shelter 1 1/2 yrs. Who knows. She loves when I brush her, in increments. I’ve been building her trust. We have a ritual. She follows me into the bathroom all the time. So I’d sit on the floor and we’d have a brushing/combing session. I know when she’s done. I give her lots of treats. Since, she’s been more receptive. Even basically asking me. I bought the furminator and returned it. There’s no way that thing can touch her fur let alone get through it even when she’s mat free. I got many other tools I’ve been trying. I think it’s because it’s so dry here in winter. I have wood stove. That her fur is not only cotton candy it’s static. Looking for a good detangler to keep up with her. She’s older and frail and I’m so afraid of sedation but unfortunately if I’m going to do more damage than good with helping her then it’s better the vet do it. But like you said, who knows how “gentle” they will be with my baby girl. Ugh. Sorry for carrying on. I’m just so worried and stressed for her. I don’t want her to not trust me and be angry with me when we’ve come so far with her really opening up and trusting me. Thank you so so very much again. I genuinely appreciate your time and concern. I wish I could fly us out to you.

    • “The coconut oil is a liquid. Natures Way Liquid Coconut premium oil non-gmo. I’m not sure if that’s still bad. I will be avoiding it regardless. Maybe for her skin? Aloe for skin?” Liquid coconut oil?! I gotta check it out! I usually hold it in my hand until it melts before I use it. I love coconut oil. My veterinarian recommends it for all kinds of issues, including skin irritation. I have no qualms using it with my darlings… I’m pretty sure that coconut oil doesn’t lubricate in the same way as olive oil. I suspect it works against the olive oil – sorta coating the matted areas and blocking the olive oil from working its magic? I’m not positive; I’m just guessing based on my experiences with and research reviews of the two. Since there is coconut oil on her mats, maybe adding more olive oil is pointless right now?

      “Sorry for carrying on. I’m just so worried and stressed for her. I don’t want her to not trust me and be angry with me when we’ve come so far with her really opening up and trusting me.” I get that. Oh, boy do I ever get that! I’ve been there many times. Knowing that she’s so cautious and emotionally sensitive, for the sake of your relationship with her, I think it would be a good idea to be her chauffeur but let someone else’s hands violate her.

      Have you ever tried Rescue Remedy or Five Flower with her? (You can spray/drop them on her food, in her water, or on her bedding.) How about Zylkene? (You can sprinkle it on her food.) I use them quite often with cautions and fearful cats. I believe they’re perfectly harmless and have no interactions. But you might ask your vet before giving Zylkene?

      Wow, the Furminator wouldn’t work with her. It would be ideal for her type of fur. I guess using another brush and brushing as often as possible is good prevention. Do you think she’d use self-brushing products, such as http://a.co/hOXo1vW or http://a.co/3Fj7uYA ? Most cats I’ve tried those with don’t use them. Maybe brushing is a social grooming thing? But if you can return them, they might be worth trying with Zizi?

      “Thank you so so very much again. I genuinely appreciate your time and concern. I wish I could fly us out to you.” Awwwww, shucks. Thanks. :-)

  • Suzi

    Thank you very much. I was able to cut out the mats that were still hanging there. I mixed olive oil and 100% natural coconut oil. It definitely worked. I just had to cut them off as they loosened up. She’s very irritated. I gave her some liquid nutricalm for pets to help her stay calm. Added a little aloe. I think you are correct in that her skin was probably already sore underneath. I may apply more oil in a few days as it did work. Hers just didn’t fall off. Thank you again for your reply and help. I’ll keep you updated. Thank you.

    • Ahhhh, mixing with coconut oil will reduce effectiveness of the olive oil trick. Adding coconut oil (a solid) to a mat it will actually make mats worse. The only thing that really works on the mats in this way is olive oil.

      Coconut oil is a solid so it won’t do anything to loosen mats. It’s a great product to have on hand for topical and oral use. I use coconut oil on my cats (and myself) as a topical lotion and antimicrobial. It’s excellent help when used topically on scabs, sores, and raw skin.

      Other liquid oils might work, but can be bad if cats ingest them.

  • Suzi

    I am trying this on my cat who has cotton candy fur. It’s been a week. Her mats are coming loose gradually. However, she has been overgrooming now and her skin is raw. I’m not sure if anyone’s cat has done this. I’m feeling really bad now. :( Please help.

    • ACK! I’m so sorry she’s going through this! I’ve never run across that situation with the olive oil trick before. Most cats seem to find the oil soothing, but I can imagine that some kitties don’t like anything strange on their fur. One of my foster cats was overgrooming until the mats fell off. There were awful scabs under the mats from all the chaffing that had been happening. The scabs must’ve been itchy and/or painful. Perhaps that’s part of what’s going on with your darling?

      You probably decided to do the oil as a way of avoiding using clippers, but maybe it’s time to just shave off her oil-treated mats so they’re less annoying to her? After that, if she still overgrooms the oiled areas, maybe using a cat-safe shampoo would help counteract the oil?

      Thank you for mentioning this situation. It sounds upsetting. I’ll keep my eye out for other mentions of this sort of reaction.

      • Suzi

        Also, like your foster, my Zizi has been overgrooming herself. Which makes me wonder if I should continue. My vet needs to do bloodwork then sedation then shave. I contacted a groomer and she won’t let me be with her. Cannot find another. I’d like to continue trying because she’s trusting me. She’s a rescue. They told me she was 3. My vet said she’s 11. She’s really come around for me. I just want her to be comfortable. Same thing happened last year in winter but by spring they could be worked out. This year she’s a lot worse. And now down to skin on her back area. :(
        Not sure what to do at this point. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

        • I think your only option with the coconut oil mats is to shave* them off. Will your vet prescribe a sedative that you could give her before anybody (at home or at a clinic/spa) turns on clippers? You might have to bribe a friend. I wonder if any of your local vets have vet techs who do house calls who are skilled at GENTLY restraining cats?

          * My favorite clippers to use with cats is the Wahl 9861-900 Pocket Pro Universal Trimmer (http://a.co/629pntx). They’re small, easy to clean, and not as loud as other clippers.

          I think prevention will be key for you two so you won’t have to go through this regularly. Daily brushing, if she’ll tolerate it, might be ideal. If she’s food-motivated, consider training her to love brushing time. I’d highly recommend getting a Furminator. It’ll be far more effective because it’s the only brush that removes loose undercoat hairs, which are the worst culprits. Other brushes will only get loose guard hair.

        • Do you live in my geographic area? If so, email or call me and we can talk about great local options, including some pros who can come to your house to help with Zizi.

          I totally understand cautious cats and working with them without traumatizing them takes different skills than working with other cats. That’s why I mentioned GENTLE restraint in an earlier comment. Scruffing a cat who is truly scared of people will only be traumatized by scruffing. It could ruin your relationship, in fact. There are restraint techniques that make kitties like Zizi more comfortable rather than traumatizing them. Sadly, few vets or vet techs learn these in school. So most restraint experiences at vet clinics end up doing more emotional damage. :-(

  • 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. ;-)

  • 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.

    BEFORE AND AFTER:

    Before

    After

    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

  • 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!

  • Lynn Roy

    Would this work on my rabbit?

  • 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? (http://www.karikells.com/Petsitter/2011/the-furminator-judgement-day-for-matted-fur-hairballs/) 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Wow, that’s really neat!

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