Why It’s a Bad Idea to Keep a 15 Year Old ‘Cat Mat’

Blue, Bettina and I attended a canine event in Gardiner, Maine.  It’s an annual event and typically we man the Maine Greyhound Placement Service booth but this year we decided to attend as part of the general public.  We met our friends Billy, Shannon, Trouble and Sugaree and spent the morning wandering around, meeting, greeting, visiting and chatting with all the dog folks out and about.

The scene of the Cat Mat crime
Looks perfectly harmless, right?
As we worked our way towards the exit of the park, we came upon a booth for a mobile veterinarian.  This group is there every year.  We stopped to chat with the vet manning the table.  It wasn’t long before both the vet and I noticed Bettina.  While Blue was people and dog watching, Bettina was laser focused on the vet’s table.  She was trying to work her way around a big box on the ground at the end of the table to get closer.  Despite dogs and people swirling all around her, she seemed oblivious to this bounty.

The vet had some papers and some information about canine weight loss on the table.  Bettina was desperate to get to the other side of this table and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.  Soon she was barking her fool head off.  I thought at first, she was barking at the vet.  But she was not.  After several rounds of barking she tried to jump up on the table.  I pulled her back several times and scolded her.  She was not dissuaded.

The human vet and the human mumma are most definitely not sight hounds.  So we can be forgiven for the fact that it wasn’t until her second or third attempt to gain the summit of the table that we figured out what was so important to her.  I had not noticed it before, but the vet had 3-4 pieces of fur sitting at the back of the table.  They looked like cat hides and at first I was a little horrified thinking he had skinned some cats and saved their skins.  

It wasn’t as gruesome as that but nearly so.  In fact, they were ‘cat mats.’  This is a term I had never heard of before but apparently if a long haired cat goes un-groomed and gets too matted, the only solution is to shave the poor thing down.  What gets shaved off is a cat rug the size of the feline in question. 

I felt a little sad for any cats that ended up in this condition.  On the table was evidence of at least 4 cats who had ended up that way.  What was puzzling to me, however, is why anyone would want to save such a thing.  Maybe you save ONE as a cautionary tale to other cat owners.  But saving four of them?  That’s a collection.  That indicates a hobby.  These ‘cat mats’ weren’t in the shape of the Virgin Mary or anything.  There wasn’t anything special about them that I could see.

It went from strange to truly bizarre when the vet informed me that at least one of them was 15 years old.
Bettina, just before "the incident"
  Someone saved a giant mat of cat fur for more than a decade!  As I was pondering this, the vet took the rattiest of the four mats and held it out at Bettina level. 

Ole Lightning Fussypants did not look a crazy gift vet in the mouth.  She grabbed that nasty piece of fur so quickly that neither the vet nor I actually saw it happen.  The next thing we knew, she was shaking that ancient cat hair for all she was worth.  It must have smelled very cattish because she seemed convinced it could and should be killed.

I did have to agree with her on that one point, it should have been killed.  But the vet was of another opinion.  He started yelling that I should not let her rip it and other things I wasn’t paying attention to as I wrestled Bettina for her prize.  She was so in the cat killing zone that she just chomped on that fur fast and hard, paying no attention to my fingers that had been jammed into her mouth in an effort to pry her jaws open. 

I was eventually successful in prying open her mouth and grabbing the soggy, nasty old cat fur back, but not before she flattened several fingers between her molars.  I threw the thing back at the vet and he spent a little time petting and primping it before he replaced it with the other three. 

He gave me a wry smile and said, “Huh.  She’s high prey.” 

I took a moment to formulate my response as I massaged some blood back into my crushed fingers.  I decided that the response that would get me in the least amount of trouble was, “Yes.  Yes she is.” 

“I guess I shouldn’t have held that out for her to sniff.” 

Again I took a moment to mentally edit my response in the interests of politeness.  “No.  No you shouldn’t have.”


  1. LOL! You tell a good story!

    Just because someone is a vet doesn't mean they have a good understanding of the various dog breeds.....Sigh.

  2. That is just creepy. Like Silence of the Lambs creepy. I would not have troubled myself to save something that the vet himself had 'offered' to Bettina.

  3. Excellent description! Glad the hounds had a frolic with the cat fur!

  4. I laughed so hard reading this that I cried, and then I cried again while I read it out loud to hubby! We had a cat that we had to get shaved several times because she fought us tooth and nail about grooming her and no matter what we did, those mats would appear. But the thought of one of those mats traveling around with some crazy vet gives me the willies! I mean, really, who saves that stuff and what does he do with it?

    One thing I know for sure, Flattery and Bettina must never be allowed to compare notes! It would be the end of the world as we know it. I wonder if they could be related...

  5. that is nasty...keeping a matt of cat fur... Bettina was just trying to help!

  6. OK, the tears of laughter have stopped and I can type! All I can really say is the vet is lucky he didn't tempt Frankie and Beryl with his prized cat mat or there's no way he would have got it back in one piece!

    I can sort of understand keeping one of the things to show people as an example of the result of not grooming a long haired cat but four of the things, that's beyond weird.

  7. That is just hilarious and weird! Doesn't that thing smell? Like old nasty cat hair? Gross! And why in the world would he hand it over to a dog that obviously was very intense on getting it?
    So many questions! Lol :) great story, I'll be thinking of this one a lot!

  8. I think that vet is a loony toon. If I went into his office and saw that I would never be back .

  9. I was at a pet store with my greyhounds. A store employee took one of those feathery cat toys and waved it in front of my Sam.

    He had to write off the toy. The only way to get that back from Sam was to pull it out of Sam's mouth, one feathery bit at a time.

    So then we attended a family event, where one family member brought her parrot. The parrot was fascinated by Sam and kept trying to get closer to him. Sam, of course, was entranced by the parrot. Bird's owner and I worked very hard that day and managed to keep our fur/feather kids apart.

  10. You kill me! Hilarious.

    Now I'm looking around my house thinking, "But saving four of them? That’s a collection. That indicates a hobby."

  11. I really should not read this blog in the office with my assistant ditting in front of me. My gafaw was far from professional!

  12. This would be a great, non-cruel, first-run, cat test for prey drive. I mean, if they don't pass THIS test, they don't meet the cat. It would save the cat one stressful encounter anyway...right?? AND we learn that the dog has high drive. Let's start collecting cat mats from our long-haired cats!!


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