Hippy Kitty, No More For You!
March 23, 2006 9:55 PM   Subscribe

House cat keeps on getting nappy dreds. Any solutions?

Our house cat is constantly getting really bad hair clumps that turn into, for lack of a better word, dreds. We have been cutting them out when they get out of control, but I am wondering if there is a better way to control this. Sometimes we give him a bath but he really hates it and it doesn't seem to help much. Any creams, rinses, or other solutions all you cat lovers out there would reccomend?
posted by sophist to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shave him.


OK, well, groom him closely.

Housecats are the end result of thousands of years of selected breeding for silly traits like super-long, super-fine hair that constantly gets messed up without constant grooming. It will be far more healthier and far more comfortable for him to just be regularly close-cropped. Shave him and enjoy his company.
posted by frogan at 10:04 PM on March 23, 2006

After the shaved fur starts to grow back, get in the habit of brushing him every day. You can children's tearless detangler to help loosen any new knots.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:08 PM on March 23, 2006

Older cats, especially, get lazier about self-grooming, and this occurs. Our 15 year old Maine Coon is developing them more. We found that regular brushing helps. If the cat doesn't like the brush in the sensitive areas, let her sniff it, rub her face on it more, don't force the issue and build up to a more hands-on treatment.

We leave the cat brush in a drawer next to the bed. The cat comes in at bedtime for his luxurious treatments more frequently, and we're cornered to do it.

If you cut the mats out, consider going vertically, starting from the inside, going out. Use blunt-tipped scissors.

Also, remember that anything you put in the cat's hair to help detangle it (like lanolin-based products) will end up in kitty's belly, after getng licked off.
posted by ValveAnnex at 11:21 PM on March 23, 2006

First of all, don't shave your cat. If you think he hates baths, imagine how he'll feel about regular shaving sessions.

Second, if your cat is getting hair mats, that's a sign he's not cleaning himself regularly, which in turn may be a sign of another, more serious problem. Talk to your vet about it.

Third, most pet stores will sell you a wire slicker brush designed to remove mats. Use it regularly and you should be able to stop those nappy dreads before they start.
posted by jjg at 11:21 PM on March 23, 2006

Natty dreads, surely. Or knotty dreads. (sorry for derail, but still).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:01 AM on March 24, 2006

Even though many cats hate being groomed with brushes and combs, often because they haven't been acclimatised to it as kittens, the best way to tackle the dreadlock problem is through a combination of regular manual grooming, nutrition and feline only coat conditioners.

Try to acclimatise your cat to gentle grooming initially, use a soft brush and also your fingers. Pulling the dreads apart from the bottom to the top often loosens them enough for the cat to effectively pull the clumps out itself.

If the dreads are too numerous to deal with, then this could be a good time to start a new grooming regime via a qualified pet groomer. Often they will visit your home, bathe and clip the animal for you and show you how to effectively groom the cat yourself to avoid recurrent problems.

Shaving is the very last resort. The feline coat needs it's length to function properly. Shaving can sometimes bring skin problems such as dematitis. If shaving is the only answer, don't attempt it yourself, a pet groomer will advise you.

For long haired cats, daily brushing is essential, if the cat hates it, try and start gently by introducing a soft brush or rubber comb into the play/petting time that you spend with your cat. Try to be as relaxed as possible. Always work from the end of the hair to it's base, snagging tangles down into tangles with a metal comb will just serve to remind the cat why it doesn't like being groomed. Holding the dread firmly at the base then working on it as described can minimise discomfort.

A nutritional supplement called Mirracoat may help. This contains fatty acids that make a real difference to the texture of the coat, within a few weeks. A soft, well conditioned coat is easier for the cat to groom itself than a dry, brittle one full of tangles.

If your cat won't take Mirracoat on its food then a new, spot on, product - Dermoscent provides safe feline coat conditioning without the need for shampooing. I use this on my long haired, elderly cat and it's made an amazing difference to her coat. Her coat is now stronger, softer and dreads just don't develop anymore.

Do not use any human hair products on your cat. Beware of any feline grooming products that contain 'tea tree' oil, tea tree oil (which contains high note phenols that are toxic to cats) is frequently cited as a cause of terrible physical effects in cats, such as idiopathic fitting and in extreme cases, organ failure. In the UK, vets advise against it's use in both cats and dogs.

Sometimes elderly cats develop signs of arthritis in their lower spine's and hind leg joints. This can lead to the cat grooming it's rear end less, due to discomfort or pain. If your cat is elderly then you need to help it out with this task. Cats aren't by nature lazy about grooming themselves and the results of poor personal hygeine can be distressing for them. If a cat was taken from the litter at too young an age, this can also affect their grooming skills, they simply didn't have time with their mother and siblings to learn to groom effectively. If you suspect your cat has mobility problems, a check x ray by a vet will confirm bone changes. Although arthritis isn't 'curable' it can be managed with nutritional supplements (such as glucosamine sulphate) and anti-inflamatory medication.

Good luck :)
posted by Arqa at 3:42 AM on March 24, 2006

Natty dreads clocks in at 37,000 on the Googlemeter

Knotty dreads hits 36,000

What's nappy dreads, you say?


Looks like natty is the winner, but nappy makes a respectable showing.
posted by jefeweiss at 4:45 AM on March 24, 2006

You want a cat dematting comb. You can google the term, but basically it has serrated blades. My cat never gets the dreads anymore and she loves being brushed now. It took a while, but I imagine it feels pretty good, as I bet all that hair itches.
posted by sugarfish at 6:44 AM on March 24, 2006

Go get a cat comb from the pet store. Cut off any dreds that are too long gone to comb. Then, start combing him regularly.

Our cat is 12, and too fat to groom his back anymore. I comb him from time to time, occasionally removing nascent mats when I do so, and he's fine now. And if I can do it to my cat, you can do it to yours: our cat is one of the meanest cats I've met, and a big sucker (but he's also once of the nicest, oddly).

I pet my cat's head softly when I'm combing him, and give him a treat when I'm done, so that it's not all bad for him. He used to really hate it, and fight so much that my wife had to hold him, but now he mostly just sits and purrs while I comb him. Occasionally I'll pull too hard on a nascent mat and he'll half-heartedly nip at me, but that's it.

He doesn't get any serious mats anymore.
posted by teece at 9:30 AM on March 24, 2006

What kind of cat is it? We had two Himalayans and the only way to keep them from getting matted was to bathe them (with a gentle shampoo made for cats and a cream rinse for cats), blow dry them, and then brush them. Some cats have an undercoat that will tangle badly if you don't dry them after a bath. Also if you don't bathe them, it can be difficult-to-painful to brush them. I suspect your cat has a similar undercoat.

I wouldn't rely on shaving as a way to deal with this. You might want to find a reputable groomer to bathe, blow dry, and brush your cat. I would really check around to find a patient and compassionate groomer.

Definitely do something because those mats are painful.
posted by lobakgo at 10:34 AM on March 24, 2006

My cat loves to be brushed, but he has short hair and doesn't really need it much. My wife's cat has 3" long hair and requires brushing - but he's not really a fan most days. He develops some pretty knotty little lumps, especially near his butt. He licks the loose hair down to his hindquarters and then gives up. We end up snipping off the worst of it (he occasionally sports bald patches on his flanks as a result) but the worst part of it is his belly. He doesn't like us messing with it, so the only parts that got brushed regularly are his back and sides.

Recently he's gotten better about it - he seems to understand that brush = no knots, but he will only allow me to brush his belly after 10 to 15 minutes of hitting his side and back. He starts rolling over for a few minutes at a time, squirming, and just as I start to make a dent in the tummy knot population he suddenly snaps into attack mode and starts biting the brush. He's a very nice cat, but this type of behavior is a pain in the ass.

The other issue is that he likes to be brushed in the bathroom, and won't submit to it elsewhere. If I start brushing him he bolts for the bathroom. The clouds of hair that he sheds in there are astounding. My wife gets mad when I brush him because the hair is impossible to clean up, it gets on everything, but how can I let him go without being brushed?

He's a sensitive cat, and the only time we had him professionally trimmed it cost us an extra $50 to have him sedated, because he got so freaked out by the clipping process they couldn't work on him (this was a veterinary office, not a groomer).

I think that Dermoscent sounds like a good idea... will check it out myself.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2006

My cat is short hair so I'm not sure if this is pertinent, but diet makes a major difference for the quality of a coat. What are you feeding your cat?

Mine had a rough, tangled coat when she came off the street as a stray. She was switched to science diet and improved majorly, had a normal coat. Then I was advised to switch to Avoderm, by a number of sources including my vet, and now she is the softest silkiest kitty ever... just something to consider.
posted by mdn at 12:06 PM on March 24, 2006

(her diet changes weren't done with her coat in mind - just a side effect I noticed)
posted by mdn at 1:27 PM on March 24, 2006

Thanks for your help all, and my humblest apologies for the linguistic mishap. Natty dreads indeed.
posted by sophist at 2:23 PM on March 24, 2006

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