Feline Fabulous: A Good Grooming Transforms Matted Cat

March 28, 2024

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Three years ago, Monique O.’s daughter, Sariya, brought home a tiny orange-and-white kitten.

“He was the runt of a litter in our neighborhood, ignored by his mother,” says Monique. “I immediately fell in love. Today, he’s my best friend.

“He’s gorgeous,” she adds, describing Tailz’s attributes. “His eyes match his honey-golden fur. When I’m away, he sits at the door and waits for me. I’m a proud mama.”

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Tailz as a kitten, upper left, and recently.

A Tangled Mess

Just after New Year’s 2024, Monique noticed that Tailz’s thick coat was becoming matted. The food-loving feline had gained weight, and he was unable to groom certain areas.

Monique searched her East New York, Brooklyn neighborhood for a groomer who welcomed cats, but to no avail.

“No one would take us,” she says.

On January 11, she walked into the ASPCA Community Veterinary Center (CVC), a block from where she lives.

“Monique explained the situation, and we had availability and were able to get Tailz in immediately,” says Pedro Devin Guzman, Client Operations Manager of the ASPCA NYC Mobile Veterinary Services. 

A No-Stress Process

Once Tailz was admitted, the ASPCA team got to work.

Nathalie Morales and Tyrone Thomas, Senior Veterinary Assistants, and Frisnel Lamour Jr., Medical Manager, worked with Tailz for more than an hour.

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Tyrone and Frisnel helped hold Tailz while Nathalie used a de-shedder brush, a metal tool with fine to medium teeth that helps remove dead hair and mats hidden in the undercoat. Nathalie and Frisnel then took turns with the brush, removing all the mats.

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Grooming Tailz: From left, the ASPCA’s Nathalie Morales, Tyrone Thomas, and Frisnel Lamour Jr.

“It was pretty easy, and we didn’t cause Tailz any stress,” Nathalie says. “We didn't have to shave any hair at all, nor did we need to sedate Tailz. He was a trooper.”

“Because he was such a good boy throughout the process, we didn’t need to use hair clippers either,” Tyrone adds. “He sat in place nicely.”

Grooming: A Health Care Essential

Pets who are improperly or infrequently groomed can eventually experience severe health problems including skin infections, strangulating hair mats and restricted and painful movement caused by dense hair mats or overgrown claws.

Tyrone recommended to Monique that she brush Tailz’s coat up to twice a week and monitor his diet. He also gave her a de-shedding brush to use on Tailz at home.

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Nathalie, left, with a de-shedding brush.

“Being overweight made it difficult for Tailz to reach certain areas and contributed to his condition,” Tyrone says.

Accessible grooming options, as Tailz experienced, are valuable because pet care services in underserved communities are often unaffordable or geographically inaccessible—a challenge that can result in pets being rehomed or relinquished.

“A pet’s grooming needs can be an important aspect of their health-related care,” says Crystal Jordan, NYC Community Veterinary Center Director. “Better access to basic veterinary care services, including grooming, can keep pets and people together.”

Our clinic offers grooming services only when the situation crosses over into a medical issue, as it had with Tailz.

“We recognize how important it is for our patients to have immediate relief and a preventive plan their owners can follow,” says Jocelyn Kessler, Vice President of Community Medicine for the ASPCA.

Happy at Home

Not only is Tailz Monique’s best friend, but he also serves as her emotional support cat.

“He’s helped me through depression and anxiety,” she says. “If he sees me crying, he’ll head butt me. He’s very lovable and affectionate. I couldn’t live without him.”

Monique also has a female cat, Tigress, whom she found in her basement when she was a kitten.

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After removing mats and dead hair from Tailz, the CVC team spelled out his name. 

“She can be leery of other people but is affectionate toward family,” Monique says. “We wait to receive her love; Tailz is more like a happy puppy. Cats communicate very clearly.”

In addition to Tailz and Tigress, Monique’s two daughters, Sariya, 16—who brought Tailz home—and Melody, 10—with whom Tigress is close—live at home.

In the weeks since his appointment, Tailz has lost weight, making it easier for him to groom himself. Monique also utilized the CVC to have both of her cats fixed; Tailz was neutered soon after his grooming, and Tigress was spayed.

“I’ll never let this happen again, now that I know what I know,” Monique says. “I appreciate you guys so much.”