How to trim knots out of cat hair

Written by tzvi raphael
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How to trim knots out of cat hair
Regularly grooming your cat will keep its hair and skin healthy. (Cat image by Denis Pyrlik from

Longhair cats tend to get knots, or mats, in places where it's hard to groom, such as under the tail, on the belly and rear legs. Knots are uncomfortable and can cause skin irritations and infections. If brushes and combs don't work to remove your cat's mats, as a last resort, you can carefully cut them off with a mat splitter. A cat's skin is quite thin and knots are close to the skin. Trimming mats requires care to avoid injuring the cat. Once done, the cat will feel better and have a healthier coat.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cat treats
  • Wide tooth steel comb
  • Mat splitter
  • Slicker brush

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  1. 1

    Make sure the cat is relaxed before removing mats. Give cat treats and talk as you work. Take a wide tooth comb, and if possible, insert it behind the mat against the cat's skin. Hold the mat with one hand, and place your fingers against the comb to protect the cat's skin.

  2. 2

    Position the mat splitter in the other hand at the edge of the mat closest to you. A mat splitter is a tool that removes difficult mats with a sharp steel blade. Pull the blade horizontally through the mtt, dividing it into two or three sections. Mat splitters are very sharp so work carefully to avoid cutting the skin.

  3. 3

    Work on one small piece at a time and from the outside edge of the mat. Use horizontal cuts, working parallel to your cat's skin. Do not cut all the way back to your cat's skin.

  4. 4

    Use the comb and remove the rest of the hair when you have finished cutting most of the mat. If you feel any resistance at the end of the mat closest to the skin, hold this matted piece with your fingers. With the other hand, use the first few teeth of the comb as a pick, and gently pick through the leftover mat. The mat will loosen and slide down the fur.

  5. 5

    Comb through the cat's fur. Follow up with a slicker brush. Use a line-brush stroke (pat and pull through the fur towards you). Continue brushing your cat's fur until he is totally mat free.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use scissors! Even if you are very careful, scissors may seriously injure your cat.
  • Some cats need to be sedated by a vet to get the mats out.
  • If you discover bleeding, skin rashes, sores, or if the skin under the mat pulls off, stop and immediately see a vet.
  • Don't bathe your cat before matting.

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