Cats

Baby, the Old Lady Cat

We have two old lady cats at our house, both about 14 years old. One, Puss Puss, got the following review from the vet at her visit last spring: "Doesn't look a day over 3!"

But Baby, who is actually a little younger, is starting to show signs of her age. A cat who used to go in and out all the time, she rarely ventures out the door now, and when she did the other day, she couldn't seem to figure out how to get back in again, as if the timing of coming to the door had gotten beyond her.

I remember watching Nicky, our Old Man Cat, begin to fade. Even when the vet said nothing was the matter with him, I could see him thinning out, not so much literally as energetically.

Now Baby is the cat who over the years has created a number of headaches with her indoor behaviors. We've purchased feline Valium and Feliway (the pheromone stuff you plug into the wall) and moved a litter box into the master bedroom, which is probably what solved some of the problems in the end.

She's a little old lady cat, eight pounds of possessive purrs. She sleeps as close as she can get to me, drinks my water, walks around my head when I'm sitting on the sofa and is sure she can help with my knitting.

As she sat in my lap yesterday, I noticed some unaccustomed matting of her fur. I wondered if she had injured herself and tried to gently comb the area.

Baby felt it only appropriate to put her teeth on me in response.

Twice.

I never found an injury and in fact noted there were quite a few areas of concern; I realized she must not be grooming herself as well as she used to do. Really, I can't remember seeing her do much grooming recently.

This afternoon I consulted Google and concluded that this must be part of the aging process. Matted fur feels uncomfortable, so we're going to have to help her with her grooming. She's not going to love that, I fear.

Readers, if you have experience grooming older cats or can recommend a grooming tool, I would appreciate your wisdom.

16 thoughts on “Baby, the Old Lady Cat”

  1. I’m sorry that I know zero about taking care of cats. All I can tell you is that I sympathize, and know what it’s like to watch a precious furbaby aging and fading away. I hope she didn’t bite you hard.

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  2. I found most of the tools which promise easy removal of matted hair do not work. When I was practicing, I would tell clients to get a regular comb with strong teeth and every day gently work on a little area on the mat…usually you must get almost down to the skin and begin to gently tease the mat away from the skin. Hope this helps.

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  3. she has longer hair? i have shorthaired cats, so i can only offer what helped when my daughter’s hair got matted. we used spray “no tangle” conditioner, and combed gently, beginning to unravel it at the outer end.
    for our longhaired dog, and a long-haired guinea pig we once kept for a while, it was just easier to cut the mats out if they couldn’t be easily combed.

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  4. I get my long-haired cat when he’s snuggling up on cold days. I pull the mattes apart gently until they pull OUT (and throw those away in a trash can with a lid!). Then I use the furminator when the worst of the matting has been dealt with by hand. (throw the whole cat you’ll take off with the furminator in the lidded trash too…it’s like they want to groom the fur that’s not attached, but not the fur that is attached. That doesn’t end well…) It’s not unlike detangling my own hair, actually. Pull gently and most of the mattes will come apart.
    Of course, this requires the cat sitting still longer than 5 seconds, which is always a challenge…

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  5. Sometimes gently stroking them with a wet washcloth will stimulate them to clean themselves. Obviously, that won’t help with the mats, but it might help her stay cleaner and get fewer mats in the future.

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  6. Thanks for all the suggestions. Baby is a short-haired cat, which is why the matting surprises me and seems like a sign of something not right. I will definitely try the washcloth suggestion and look into combs/furminators. Over the weekend I used an undercoat rake, very gently, since all my current tools are dog-related.

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  7. The furminator has been miraculous for both our short haired cat and our long haired (mat-prone) dogs. You have to be careful not to shear them!!

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  8. I do use the furminator on my short haired cat too….she’s less of a fan (but she doesn’t like to be brushed either) but if I can get her to stay still for a few moments, it really really works. Get the purple one.

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  9. Just today someone mentioned the benefits of the furminator…it’s as gentle as a brush and apparently does wonders. Amazon is the best place to purchase it, I was told…

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  10. Magical Cat LOVES the furminator. It’s really good at getting lots of extra fur off of kitties. I joke that after I’m done grooming Magical Cat, I have enough fur for a whole new cat!
    I got the yellow one (medium) for our kitty. Magical Cat has short hair, but it’s thick. He loves being brushed and comes running to me when he sees the furminator in my hand.
    I also use the “Quick Bath” wipes (I buy them on Amazon) on Magical Cat after I’ve brushed him. It keeps him from licking up so much of the loose fur and works like a waterless bath.
    Give Baby some scritches on the ears for me. 🙂

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  11. The oldest kitty in our house has stopped grooming himself–at least very much. Cats with mats, well we just try to cut them off…but some of ours do like the furminating routine. It is good she has short hair..it is interesting, and sad, but good, to watch the aging process in our furry friends. At least it is to me…it is a source of wonder to watch the different stages they go through.
    Love to to Baby.

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  12. My parents had a cat who lived until she was over 21, and couldn’t really care for herself. Daddy used to bath her when she needed it, which she absolutely hated – but she adored being dried afterwards!

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