While at TCWR have you noticed thick bunched-up hair hanging from the heads and necks of some of these cats? Those are the cats’ mats. What is a mat you might ask? It is fur that bunches up mostly around the head area that is harder to clean. This happens mostly due to the cat getting older and not being able to clean themselves the best. Sometimes this dreadlock could be tangled up hair from not being able to “brush” themselves as easily. Other times it could contain food and/or feces from the animal.
These mats will sometimes fall right off of the cat with no problem! Other times they hang on and wait to be cut off! When we cut the mats off the cat is sedated, but not just because they need a haircut. We only sedate the animals if we need them to go through a checkup. Sedation can cause lots of stress on these animals. The less sedation we do the less stress these animals will go through. While they are going through their major checkup, that’s when we can cut the mats off to help keep the animal clean!
We have rescued lots of animals that were living in their own feces, so it makes it harder for them to keep clean. Chief for example is one of our male lions. He had major mats when he arrived here at TCWR. He had to wait for his haircut because he was in severe condition we were worried that after sedation then, he wouldn’t wake up. We had to wait in his case till he recovered and gained weight then we were able to sedate him, give him a full checkup, and cut off those smelly mats!
These mats are mostly seen in male lions due to their luscious mane. These mats are mostly found on the bottom part of their mane where it can be harder for them to reach! Now these mats can also be found on tigers, just not as common. When we have the mats on tigers it is mostly due to them not being able to clean themselves properly anymore due to their older age. Heather was one of those tigers. She had mats galore all around her head! She was 22 years old when she passed but in cat years that is about 105!