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Angry New Kitten / Brushing

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I adopted a long-haired tortoiseshell kitten from a local shelter today, and among some of the immediate concerns is that she has several mats of knotted hair around her neck and chin. I have a brush and she's let me brush her, and she's let me scratch her neck and chin where the mats are, but I tried to spray the mats with a special animal 'detangler' spray and she absolutely will NOT allow me to work on the mats. I thought I might cut some of them out, and she will NOT allow me to do it. She growls, hisses, scratches, bites. Clearly she is sensitive about being controlled and maybe that's why the shelter didn't deal with the mats before they sent her home with me. But I need some ideas! I can't even clip her toenails without her completely flipping out. She is sooo playful and scratches a LOT, so it's something I need to do besides the brushing. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 14
i don't know all that much about kittens, but could you give her some time? I mean, you just got her today - that's pretty traumatic for her. Then trying do things to her that she doesn't want - well, i wouldn't let anyone either!

I know her nails need to be cut, but maybe you could just let her settle down for today at least?

I don't know, just my 2 cents......I could be totally wrong!
post #3 of 14
I agree, the stress of being in a shelter, now being in a new surrounding, and just still needing to get to know and trust you is quite overwhelming for any animal..
Maybe just a small amount of time may help..
post #4 of 14
If it really bothers you, perhaps you should have a professional groomer take care of it. But, I agree with the others, the best plan is to give the new cat some time to get to know you and trust you.
post #5 of 14
Depending on the severity, matting is a fairly clear medical/health issue and that supercedes concerns about "giving it time" or socialization issues.

So can you scruff her and give a quick haircut with an electric trimmer? Believe me, I'm usually one of the people emphasizing patience but sometimes you just need to confront an issue head-on and then deal with the other stuff later.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nano
Depending on the severity, matting is a fairly clear medical/health issue and that supercedes concerns about "giving it time" or socialization issues.
see! this is why I wasn't sure (and this is why I'm not an "alpha cat" )
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nano
Depending on the severity, matting is a fairly clear medical/health issue and that supercedes concerns about "giving it time" or socialization issues..
Yup, convinced me. (Actually didn't need convincing, just needed reminding. ) But if you're not comfortable (and competent) doing it yourself, I'm still in favor of the pro. Less stressful for the cat - and less dangerous for the human.
post #8 of 14
In circumstances where a cat is very stressed, a vet can do it while the cat is under. This cat is sooo stressed right now - time at the shelter and now a new home. It's too much!!! Give her some time and you will likely find you can brush her matts out just fine. Poor baby!!! Good for you for taking her in but she will need much time to adjust! You are prob lucky she is not hiding under the bed - that is where I;d be in her situation. As I think Hissy said once, do not expect cats to be thrilled with oyu for "saving" them at first. (Sorry Hissy - I am paraphrasing and I forget your exact words).

Good luck with this girl!
post #9 of 14
I agree with the others - give her some time to adjust to her new life before you start grooming her. She sounds friendly to you, so if she is in your lap, you can pet her and run your fingers thru the mats for now. After a week or 2 when she relaxes, you can really work on the problems.

Unless she is seriously matted to the point that this is a health hazard, leave her be for now. Living in a shelter can stress out the best cats, and adjusting to a new home after being stressed is more trauma on the poor girl. She doesn't need more poking and prodding right now.
post #10 of 14
I would take her to the vet and have them shave her. Once she is shaved, and her hair grows back then you brush her daily *use a zoom groom* But for right now, the health issues that might be developing under those mats far outweigh trying a patience game.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by journey
see! this is why I wasn't sure (and this is why I'm not an "alpha cat" )
Ah, that just means I post a lot. For all anyone knows, I could have posted "What a cute kitten!" 600+ times in the picture forum and this is my first venture out to the advice forums.

But back to the thread...

This is the internet so none of us can observe the situation first-hand except the thread starter, but there is definitely a time and place where health issues come way before socialization or behavioral issues.

I've had to feed with a syringe, I've had to force medicine (pills and sometimes shots), I've had to give haircuts, etc. Under normal conditions I always trt to handle my pets in a loving way. But when there is a medical issue I handle them very differently -- almost clinically -- because it is a matter of acting in the animal's best interests. If someone doesn't feel up to doing that, then please pay someone else to do it for you.

And despite what some people might predict, I've never had a pet turn against me or refuse later affection because of the way I handled them when dealing with health issues. One of the very first things I had to do with Nano was give her a haircut to get rid of her thickest matting and to start dealing with the places where someone had spray painted her.
post #12 of 14
I have a question, and it might be a really dumb question, but why is matted hair a health issue? what could be going on under the hair that is so unhealthy?
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by journey
I have a question, and it might be a really dumb question, but why is matted hair a health issue? what could be going on under the hair that is so unhealthy?
Matted hair can become a health issue when it is so severe that they are embedded into the skin. It pulls the skin (and the skin is an organ) and can also constrict or squeeze so that internal organs become uncomfortable. It can also interfere with walking, jumping and excersise. When it gets to that point, it is definately the job for a professional.

notme: It doesn't sound like your cat is at that point? I have assisted in shaving a cat thats fur was so badly matted, it would come off in large clumps like a shell of his body and was at least 1 1/2 inches thick.

It sounds like you may be able to take kitty to a groomer and have the little mats clipped out around the ears and neck. Please don't try this yourself though. Cats have a very thin membrane of skin on top and it is easily torn or cut. It heals quickly but of course, you don't want to hurt your cat! Having the cat shaved will work too. Personally, I just hate to shave them if it isn't necessary but I won't hesitate if it is needed.

After you get kitty "dematted" make sure you have a comb or two on hand. A medium tooth and fine tooth are good to have around. The fine tooth is good for the legs and those places you mentioned like behind the ears. Usually brushing only will not prevent or take out even some of the smallest mats. I only have to use the combs on my cat's trouble spots and the rest of their body I just brush.

Your cat will need some time to adjust and trust you before you will be sucessful at grooming him. Just give him some time and start with baby steps. When you do use a comb, start at the ends of the hair and work your way in. Try picking mats apart with your fingers a little and then they will slide right out (most of the time) when you comb. Using your fingers is a little less pulling on the skin. I use this method especially for those little pesky mats that always show up in spots. You'll get a feel for it. You just hold kitty in your lap (if you can) or lay him on a bed or other soft surface like a sofa (I put a towel under them so I don't get fur all over). Then you just kind of try to pick apart the mat starting at the top. Don't pick or pull so hard that you go all the way to the skin. That will hurt a bit and make the cat angry.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice-- the kitten I have doesn't seem to be at a crisis point with her mats, and they don't seem to bother her so I'm taking it easy now. I was just worried they could get worse if I didn't deal with them now, but that doesn't seem to be. I did notice, though, that there are a few "bald spots" around her neck in the same area as where some of the mats are. I'm not sure if that means there were mats that fell off or what. At the vet they didn't seem too concerned.
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