My 20 year old male Siamese has stopped grooming himself and has developed numerous hair mats. He will not allow me to tease them out and is not inclined to put up with anyone grooming him. He does not appear to be affected by the hair mats and does not pull at them. He is strictly indoors and not at risk for fleas.

Some have recommended getting him a lion cut and then getting him acclimated to regular grooming. Some others say this is a bad idea.

He has impaired kidney function, arthritis in his elbows, and some neurological difficulties. I'm concerned about having him sedated for grooming.

I will appreciate any advice.

  • I assume as a Siamese he has a short/sleek coat?
    – Meg
    Mar 25, 2019 at 18:39
  • Yup: as a Siamese he has a short/sleek coat. Mar 26, 2019 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


I would find a cat savvy veterinarian willing to do the trim without sedation, there are many techniques to restrain a cat that would allow them to shave off the mats. Most groomers (and many vet clinics too) do not know how to restrain a cat besides "scruffing" which is an outdated and stressful technique. You can do multiple sessions or leave him there for the day so they can give him a break in between trims.

I wouldn't keep the mats there as they are very tight to the skin which in turn makes it very uncomfortable to the point of painful.

Restraint Techniques

  1. Towel Wrap
  2. E-collar - using an e-collar protects the handler from bites and allows to retrain the body instead of using a scruff. Can be incorporated with a towel if the cat tries to scratch.
  3. Cat Restraining Gauntlets - This is hit or miss, some people have a harder time controlling a cat with gauntlets since they are so thick. You can use these for a "boxing technique" which is when you cup their faces from behind and "box" them in between your arms. I cannot seem to find a photo of it so I will try to take one at work and post it here. There are other uses for gloves, many times we use one glove for doing a lateral jugular blood draw restraint to hold the face.
  4. Gabapentin is a very safe medication that can be given 2 hours before going to the hospital or groomers. This has sedative effects to reduce the stress of being shaven.

Feliway is always a bonus and should be sprayed on the items used to restrain a cat 30mins prior to using them.

Never use scissors to cut mats, this often leads to the skin being cut.

  • 3
    i just want to add this,if you let the cat stand on the floor and you bend down to brush your cat the cat will feel it have controll and this makes it a lot easier for you to brush him,you will have to take some breaks when your cat goes away from you but then you just continue later :) Mar 26, 2019 at 13:25

In general, it's not advised to give a short clip or lion cut to a short haired cat. They need that layer of insulating fur to help them keep a stable body temperature. However, once the fur is badly matted, if your cat won't allow you to untangle it you have limited options. Mats aren't an immediate risk, but they can grow to the point they start pulling on the skin, causing pain and eventually sores and infection.

First option: Talk to his vet about giving/increasing pain relief. When a cat just gives up on grooming, it's often a sign of significant pain. If your cat isn't on anything for his arthritis yet, it might be time. If he feels better, he may start cleaning himself again, which should help, although you will probably have to help him with the worst of it.

Second option: Home remedies and enormous patience. You can use a cat hair detangler spray from the pet store, or little bit of a safe, edible oil (like coconut or olive). Don't overdo this, since it can get messy, and if you cat licks up a lot of oil it can act as a laxative. Apply sparingly to the mats and let it sit for a while, then try to tease out the mats with a wide tooth comb or dematting rake. If you choose to use a rake or razor comb, follow instructions carefully or even look for a youtube video of how to use it.

You will probably need to train him to allow grooming. Start very small. Give lots of treats and praise; start by praising and treating him for just letting a brush come near him, then accepting even one gentle stroke of a bush, etc. You should aim to work on the mats just a few minutes at a time, a few times a day until the problem is resolved. Try to make this process as pleasant and rewarding as possible for your cat.

Third option: Find a vet or groomer who can clip just the matted areas without sedation. Your cat may have 'bad haircut' for a while, but the stress is less by clipping just the mats compared to a full lion cut.

I don't recommend trying to cut mats with scissors! There is too much risk of hurting your cat, and it doesn't work all that well, either.

Final step: Maintain your progress with regular brushing. A slicker brush with soft-tipped bristles works well for most short coated cats, or if he's a fan of petting but not the brush, try a grooming glove.

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