How to Brush Matted Fur

Matted fur can be really uncomfortable for an animal. The tangles pull on the animal’s skin, which can lead to irritation and even infections. Luckily, in some cases, you may be able to remove the mat yourself. Try gently combing through the mat, using a detangler if necessary. If that doesn’t work, you may need to carefully cut the mat away. Of course, if you have any hesitation or concerns, bring the animal to a veterinarian or a professional groomer to get it checked out!

EditAssessing the Mat
Try combing the mat first if you can work your fingers into it. Press the mat between your thumb and first finger, or your first 2 fingers if the mat is very large. If the matted fur separates beneath your fingers, or your finger and thumb touch through the fur, you may be able to use a comb to gently detangle the mat.[1]
Typically, the earlier you can catch a mat, the easier it will be to detangle. That’s why you should examine your pet’s coat daily, especially if the animal has long hair that’s prone to tangling.

If the fur is matted together to the point that it feels hard, trying to detangle it may cause unnecessary pain or stress to the animal, and it could even cause it to become aggressive.

Cut the mat if the fur is matted tightly but it’s not against the animal’s skin. Even if the mat is too serious to detangle with a comb, you may still be able to remove it yourself. If you can work your fingers beneath the mat and clearly feel that there’s a separation between the tangled fur and the skin, you may be able to safely cut the mat away.[2]
If you have any question about whether it’s safe to cut the mat, take the animal to a vet or a professional groomer.

Call a professional groomer if the mat is tight against the skin. Sometimes, when fur gets really matted, it can press tightly against the animal’s skin. Folds of skin can even become trapped in the mat, which can lead to a severe laceration if you try to cut it away.[3]
You should also call a professional groomer if the mat is somewhere very sensitive, like on the abdomen, under the neck, or around the genitals, or if the animal is scared or aggressive.

Cats in particular can be very skittish when you’re working around their abdomen, even if they’re normally very tame. A scared cat might curl around your hand, kicking with its back feet and gripping you with its front claws as it tries to bite you. A professional will know how to avoid these dangerous situations.[4]

See your vet if there is any irritation on the skin under the mat. If you notice any redness, inflammation, or broken skin beneath the mat, the problem might be too serious for even a professional groomer. Instead, have the animal examined by a vet and ask them how to proceed.[5]
Serious issues, including irritation and infection, can occur when a mat sits against an animal’s skin for a long period of time.

EditCombing Mats and Tangles
Don’t wash the animal before you try to remove any mats. When you see an animal with dirty, matted fur, it might be tempting to give it a good bath right away. However, if you wash the animal before you detangle its fur, the mats will tighten up as they dry, which will make them even harder to remove.[6]
In addition, the mats might prevent the soapy water from penetrating the fur all the way to the skin, making the bath ineffective.

If you’re detangling dog hair, you may want to bathe the dog after you detangle its fur. However, avoid bathing a cat unless its fur is greasy or smelly. They typically groom themselves, and you’ll just stress it out.[7]
If the mat is in a horse’s mane, you can use a special horse shampoo to wash its mane after you finish detangling it.

Use your fingers to break up any tangles and mats as much as possible. Place the animal on a towel on the ground or a sturdy table, and sit or stand close by. Run your fingers over the animal’s fur, breaking up as many mats and tangles as you can by hand. Separate loose hairs from the mats and gently work out any knots you can, but don’t pull or tear at the animal’s fur.
Detangling mats can be a long process, and it can be stressful on the animal, especially if you’re yanking with a comb the whole time. Using your fingers can help soothe the animal, and will decrease the amount of time you spend pulling on the mat.

Try petting the animal as you detangle its fur to help calm it down. For instance, if you’re detangling a mat on a cat’s side, reach up every so often and stroke the cat’s cheeks or chin. That way, it will associate the grooming with positive attention.

Break apart larger mats with a comb, working from the outside in. If you come across a mat that you can’t detangle by hand, you’ll likely need to break it up with a wide-toothed metal comb. A brush is not as effective at removing mats, because it won’t penetrate the fur as deeply. Grip the mat securely with one hand, as close to the skin as you can get. Then, try to pick apart the mat with the widest end of your comb, using short, gentle strokes. Start at the end of the mat furthest from the animal’s skin and work your way inward.[8]
Do not yank on the mat, as this is likely to upset the animal. Also, avoid raking the comb directly across the animal’s skin, as this could cause irritation over time.

This part of the process takes time and patience. Work in small sections, and if the animal starts getting frustrated, take a break. If it creates a negative association with the grooming process, you’ll have a harder time keeping the mats from coming back.

If you’re detangling the fur on a treat-motivated animal like a dog, cat, or horse, offer it treats and plenty of soft, soothing praise if it’s acting calm and relaxed.

Saturate a stubborn mat with a detangling product for that specific animal. Deep conditioning products contain oils that can help the animal’s fur slip out of the mat. If a mat is too tangled to comb out, soak it with a detangler and let it soak in for about 30 minutes. Then, come back and try to break the mat apart with your fingers or comb it apart.[9]
Because animals have different skin pHs, you should never use products intended for another animal. For example, you shouldn’t use a conditioner for a horse’s mane on a dog. However, you may find some detanglers that are intended for both cats and dogs. If that’s the case, it should clearly say so on the label.

Also, never use human skin or hair care products on an animal.[10]

Go back over the area with a fine comb or brush once you remove the mat. Many combs for animal grooming have a wider side and a fine-tooth side. If that’s the case, comb back through the animal’s fur with the finer side once you’ve gotten most of the mat free. This will help you catch any smaller tangles that might be left behind.[11]
If your comb is only one width, use a smaller, fine-tooth metal comb, or go over the area with the animal’s normal brush. For example, you might use a small slicker brush on a long-haired cat or a bristle brush for a dog with a medium coat.

EditCutting out Mats Safely
Use a razor comb to try to cut out the mat first. A razor comb, which may also be called a rake tool or a mat splitting tool, looks like a wide comb with long, sharp teeth. Press your hand against the animal’s skin to help reduce pulling. Then, work the teeth of the razor comb under the mat and gently pull down in the direction the hair grows. Don’t yank; just allow the tool to gently slice through the matted fur as far as it will go. It may take several passes to cut through the hair holding the mat in place.[12]
Doing this will remove smaller mats, but it may also help loosen the tension on larger mats, helping the animal be more comfortable as you continue.

You can find these tools at most pet supply stores. Choose a size that’s best for your animal. For instance, you would want a smaller razor comb for cats and small dogs, and a larger tool for larger dogs.

This tool is very sharp, so always use caution when you’re using it. Also, be sure to always have the sharp ends pointing upward, away from the animal’s skin. Similarly, don’t apply too much pressure on the tool, as it’s easy to accidentally rake the skin and cause injury. Take special care around angled areas like the legs and tail.

Cut out large, stubborn mats with hair clippers. Use your hand to pull the animal’s skin as flat and tight as you can around the mat. Then, turn on the clippers and lightly run them over the very surface of the mat, moving in the direction that the fur is growing. If you need to, you can make several passes, gently running the clippers over the surface of the mat each time. However, don’t clip all the way to the animal’s skin—just stop once you’ve removed the bulk of the mat.[13]
Before you try to use clippers, make sure the animal is stable and calm, and have someone else hold it still, if you can. Speak to the animal in a soothing voice to reassure it throughout the process, and stop if it gets agitated.

If you’re grooming a cat, it may help to have someone gently hold it by the scruff of its neck. This can actually help calm a cat, since it’s the way mother cats carry kittens when they’re young.[14]
If the animal is so matted that it needs to be completely shaved, take it to a professional groomer. If your cat typically experiences a lot of stress during grooming, it may be best to take your cat to the vet, who can sedate your cat and remove all of the mats. Not only will this make your cat more comfortable and stress-free, it will also prevent your cat from becoming more fearful of grooming in the future.

Check the clippers every minute or so to make sure they aren’t too hot. Clippers can get really hot, which can burn the animal if you’re not careful. About every 60 seconds, turn off the clippers and lightly touch your hand to the blade. If it’s uncomfortably hot to the touch, it’s too hot for the animal. Wait a few minutes for the clippers to cool down before you turn them on again.[15]
You can also use a cooling spray designed for clippers to help keep the blade from overheating.

Try to detangle the fur with a comb once you’ve removed most of the mat. Often, removing the outer surface of a mat will help loosen it enough that you can finish the detangling process with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. If you still can’t loosen the mat, clip away a little more fur, or call a professional if you’re concerned you need to clip too close to the skin.[16]
A detangling spray may also be useful after you’ve removed the bulk of the mat. Saturate the animal’s fur with the spray and let it sit for about 30 minutes, or the amount of time recommended on the product label. Then, gently comb the animal’s fur to loosen any remaining tangles.

To prevent mats in the future, groom the animal regularly. The more consistent you are, the more likely the animal is to accept and even enjoy being groomed.

Take breaks to keep the animal from becoming overwhelmed.

Do not use scissors to cut mats out of an animal’s fur. You could accidentally cut it or yourself.

If an animal seems scared or aggressive, take it to a professional. The animal may need to be sedated in order to safely remove the mats from its fur.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditCombing Mats and Tangles
Wide-tooth metal comb

Fine-tooth metal comb or brush

Detangler, corn starch, or coconut oil (optional)

EditCutting out Mats Safely
Razor comb

Hair clippers (optional)

Cooling spray (optional)

Detangler (optional)

EditRelated wikiHows
Detangle Long Hair

Brush a Cat

Untangle Severely Matted Hair

Brush Mats out of Dog Hair

EditSources and Citations
EditQuick Summary
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Today in History for 11th March 2019

Historical Events

1744 – English auction house Sotheby’s holds its first ever auction (of books) in London
1895 – Spanish cruiser Reina Regente sinks in Straits of Gibraltar, over 400 die
1954 – US Army charges Senator Joseph McCarthy used undue pressure tactics
1967 – Pink Floyd releases 1st single “Arnold Layne”
1982 – Failed military coup under Rambocus and Hawker in Suriname
2007 – 54th ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament: #8 North Carolina beats NC State, 89-80

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1549 – Henric/Hendrik Spieghel, Dutch Renaissance writer and poet (Hertspiegel)
1907 – Jessie Matthews, British actress (Gangway, First a Girl), born in London, England (d. 1981)
1927 – Ron Todd, British trade unionist
1945 – Timothy Mason, consultant (British Arts Council)
1957 – Cheryl Lynn, American singer
1975 – Cedric Henderson, NBA forward (Cleveland Cavaliers)

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

222 – Julia Soaemias, mother of Elagabalus (b. 180). Ruler during her son’s minority, murdered by the Praetorian Guard
1870 – Moshoeshoe I, King of Lesotho (1822-70), dies at about 47
1972 – Fredric Brown, American sci-fi author (Martians Go Home), dies at 65
1979 – Victor Kilian, American actor (Gentleman’s Agreement), dies at 88
1992 – Richard Brooks, director (Blackboard Jungle, Key Largo), dies at 79
2015 – Ralph Taeger, American actor (Klondike, Acapulco, Hondo), dies at 78

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Find Scholarships

One of the scariest and most challenging things about going to college can be figuring out how to pay for it – especially if you’re going to college in the US. However, the process of finding scholarships is not as daunting as you may think. Schools, corporations, and nonprofit organizations give out millions of dollars in scholarships each year. Some are merit-based, meaning you need particular grades and test scores to qualify. You qualify for others based on your background or membership in particular groups.[1]
EditSearching for Scholarship Opportunities
Make a list of your hobbies and interests. While many scholarships are merit-based, there are plenty of scholarships available specifically for students that have particular interests or participate in various activities. Even your obsession with a TV show or movie could land you a few hundred dollars in scholarship money.[2]
Think of your strengths and talents as well. For example, if you’re a good writer, you might include “writing” as an interest on your list. Go further and specify the types of writing you enjoy, such as short stories or poetry.

Some hobbies and interests require you to provide samples when you apply for a scholarship. For example, if you apply for an art scholarship, you might need to submit a portfolio of your work.

Write down your affiliations and characteristics. You may qualify for scholarships based on your religious, social, or political affiliations. Scholarship opportunities may also be available based on your gender identity, race, ethnicity, or sexuality.[3]
Make a list of people you know who could possibly serve as references for you based on each particular affiliation. For example, if you want to look for religious-based scholarships, you might need a reference letter from the pastor of your church.

Have your parents check with their employers about scholarships. If you have a part-time job while in school, your employer also may have scholarships available.

Be honest with your affiliations. Claiming an affiliation you don’t really have could get you in serious disciplinary trouble.

Start researching during the summer before your senior year. Some scholarships have relatively early deadlines, particularly those that can be applied to your cost of attendance at any school. You’ll find more opportunities if you start looking as soon as possible – ideally, during your junior year of high school.[4]
The reference section of your public library is also a good place to look for scholarships. A research librarian can point you in the right direction and help you find scholarships you might qualify for.

Talk to your high school guidance counselor. High school guidance counselors have training in locating scholarships for students. Your guidance counselor may be able to point you toward opportunities that would take you a lot of time and effort to find on your own.[5]
Larger public high schools may have a single guidance counselor who works on nothing but college acceptances and financial aid. Smaller schools, however, may have fewer resources.

Contact the financial aid offices of schools where you’ve been accepted. Many scholarships are offered directly by colleges and universities. If you’ve filled out financial aid forms, you may be entered for some of these scholarships automatically. However, you typically have to indicate interest and complete a separate application.[6]
The financial aid office’s page on the school’s website often will have information on various scholarships that are available.

Check scholarship opportunities at several schools before you decide where you want to go. Most outside scholarships can be used at any school, but school scholarships can only be applied to your cost of attendance at that school.

Try free online search engines to find scholarships. There are many large scholarship databases provided by government agencies or independent organizations. You can search these for free using keywords based on your lists of interests and affiliations.[7]
FastWeb,, and have large online scholarship search engines. The U.S. Department of Labor also has a scholarship search tool available at includes some more unusual scholarships available for students with more obscure hobbies, interests, and affiliations.

Ask about scholarships from religious or community organizations. If you are a member of a religious or community organization, you may be able to find a scholarship there. You can also ask any organization or group that you’ve volunteered with.[8]
Even if your specific group or organization doesn’t offer scholarships, they may be able to point you to scholarships offered at the regional or national level.

EditApplying for Scholarships
Check the requirements and qualifications. Each scholarship has its own specific application requirements. Many applications may be similar, but none will be exactly the same. Some may require you to write an essay, while others may need letters of recommendation.[9]
It can help to group similar scholarships together so you can complete the applications at the same time. Since you’ll be repeating a lot of the same information, doing them at the same time will be more efficient.

Make notes about essays you need to write, letters of recommendation you need to get (with names), and other documents or information you need to gather before you can complete the application.

Mark deadlines on your calendar. If you miss a deadline, you may be disqualified from a scholarship that you otherwise would have been awarded. Make an estimate of how long it will take you to complete an application so you can work on it a little at a time.[10]
Schedule intermediate steps towards completing the application so you’re not trying to do everything at the last minute. For example, if you need a letter of recommendation, schedule a day to request that letter and give the person a deadline several weeks before the scholarship’s deadline.

Get letters of recommendation from teachers and community leaders. When asking for a letter of recommendation, approach the person as soon as possible so they have plenty of time to work on it. Give them a deadline for their letter, but also let them know your final deadline to apply for the scholarship.[11]
People who write your letters of recommendation should be people who know you well. A recommendation from a well-known or highly successful person won’t help you win a scholarship if they aren’t personally familiar with your background and accomplishments.

If you’re applying for a scholarship related to a particular affiliation or interest, make sure the person who writes your letter knows about you and your accomplishments in that context. For example, if you’re applying for a religious scholarship, you might ask for a letter of recommendation from your youth group leader or the pastor of your church.

Write your scholarship application essays. Many scholarship applications require you to write an essay describing your background and interests and why you think you deserve to win the scholarship. Be honest in your essays, and avoid exaggerating any experiences or accomplishments.[12]
Creating an outline will ensure that your essay is organized and cohesive.

Have a teacher or other trusted adult read over your essay before you submit it – and listen to their advice. Be prepared to go through several drafts to reach your best work.

Submit your application before the deadline. To make sure you’re not late, have your applications ready to go at least 2 weeks before the final deadline. That way you’ll have time to polish and make any final changes before you send it off.[13]
If you need to mail in a paper application, use certified mail with return receipt requested so you’ll know when your application was received.

Even if you can submit your application electronically, don’t wait until the last minute. Unexpected internet or computer problems could cause you to miss the deadline.

Continue to apply for scholarships while in college. Keep in contact with your school’s financial aid department and let them know that you’re interested in new opportunities. There are many scholarships that are only available for continuing students, or students in certain years.[14]
For example, there are some scholarships and grants that are only available to students who will be graduating within a year. These opportunities are typically designed to help cover graduation costs.

Some scholarships are only available to students with a certain major. Typically you need to be at least a sophomore before you can declare a major, so those scholarships wouldn’t be available to you until then.

EditAvoiding Scholarship Scams
Be suspicious of guarantees or “easy money” claims. Nobody just gives money away for people to go to college. No matter how well-qualified you are, no scholarship is ever guaranteed. There will always be others who are just as qualified as you are. If a business or organization claims it can guarantee you a certain amount of scholarship money, it’s likely a scam.[15]
A scam is especially likely if the business or organization makes a guarantee without seeing any information about you. Absent access to your grades and standardized test scores, no one can even make a prediction about how much scholarship money you could get – much less a guarantee.

Many scammers will use simple, one-page applications to target students who’ve grown weary of long, complicated scholarship applications, or who feel intimidated by the thought of having to write essays or gather substantial information and documents. These minimal applications will seldom yield much, if any, scholarship money.

Ignore high-pressure sales tactics. Legitimate companies that want to help you find scholarships have no reason to pressure you into signing up with them. If you see phrases such as “hurry up and call today” or “limited space available,” the company may be trying to scam you.[16]
You may also get a phone call or email stating that you’ve already won a scholarship, but you have to attend a seminar or pay a fee first.

Review communications for spelling and grammatical errors. Any communication from a legitimate scholarship assistance firm or foundation offering scholarships would be professionally proofread. Obvious errors are a sure sign that the offer is a scam.[17]
Strange or messy formatting can also be a sign that an email is coming from a scammer rather than a legitimate source.

Double-check credentials before providing personal information. Sometimes a scammer will impersonate a legitimate scholarship and send you an email asking for additional information before processing your application. Don’t click any links in the email – go directly to the legitimate scholarship site instead.[18]
These emails are used as an attempt to gain personal information from you, such as your birthday and Social Security number, that the scammer can use to steal your identity.

Refuse to provide credit card or bank account numbers. While some perfectly legitimate businesses charge a fee to help you organize your scholarship search, you can get the same assistance for free. If a service requires you to provide a credit card number or banking information before you sign up, it’s usually a scam.[19]
Even legitimate commercial advice services may cost more than $1,000, and they typically won’t give you any more information than you could find yourself for free.

EditSources and Citations
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