Matted Elderly Cat

Consider Mouth Pain from Dental or Kidney Disease

My long haired cat (Ragdoll) will be 16 this month. He gets badly matted. I have tried cutting out the mats, but they just come back worse than ever and around his rear which he doesn’t like being messed with. I’ve called groomers and veterinary clinics and they say “no” he is too old to be sedated for shaving. I am willing to do it myself and wondered if you could recommend a shaver for this type of procedure (low noise).

Dr. Nichol:
Of course dread locks are all the rage with the millennials but, gee, on the rear end? I think not. An elderly kitty who has lost control of his hairdo has me concerned. I certainly agree with getting those mats under control but your cat, Ragdoll, needs to start with a physical evaluation, including an oral and skin exam plus a lab profile.

The most common reason for an older cat to let his appearance deteriorate is failure to groom himself because of a painful mouth. By the age of 16 your boy may have erosive lesions in his teeth, advanced gum disease, or infected tooth roots. Untreated, smoldering infections take a toll. Age-related kidney failure is another common problem in geriatric cats; advanced cases can involve severe oral ulcers. So far, the possibility of sores in Ragdoll’s mouth has not prevented him from eating but his personal hygiene has taken a back seat.

It’s unsettling to consider the maladies of aging but many elderly cats with dental and kidney disease do quite well. Once this older gentleman’s medical status is determined, sedation or gas anesthesia (with oxygen) may be determined to be safe and necessary. His teeth and gums can be treated and those mats clipped off without a struggle.

Ragdoll’s mouth and kidneys may need long term management. Prescription oral rinses can help; daily fluids injected under the skin, a special diet, and medication to control blood pressure can keep marginal feline kidneys ticking along rather well, sometimes for years.

Your concern for this fellow’s appearance is legitimate. The Ragdoll clan is a proud bunch especially when it comes to their nether regions. This boy can feel much better and, with prom season approaching, his future and his appearance can be upgraded.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.