Like many owners of long-haired cats, I have been follicly challenged by the spring shedding and somewhat greasy nature of the Maine Coon coat. Some of my cats have perfect, low-maintenance coats, but others are either too oily or too cottony thick. The latter tends to form mats more easily. In the past, I've gradually worked through the mats with a rake-style comb and a seam ripper. Some cats tolerate this very well and others need two people for the process, one to comb and the other to distract the cat's head with treats, ready to scruff a ticked-off animal if necessary. For some reason, cats don't like having their hair pulled. Of course, the best prevention is regular combing and bathing or powdering.
Seam rippers (available in the sewing section of stores that carry that kind of thing) are invaluable for safely getting under a difficult mat, breaking it up with minimal damage to the appearance of the animal. If a mat is close to the skin, using scissors is dangerous as a cat's skin can tear very easily. The smallest cut can quickly widen into a horrible open wound. I keep two seam rippers in my house and have a small one with my grooming supplies at cat shows. There are some coats which seem to spontaneously sprout mats in-between judging rings so having a way to quickly take care of it without ruining the coat is important.
One of my coat challenges has been from my 9-year-old retired female, Sassy. After she was spayed, Sassy continued to eat like she did as a breeding female and put on weight, much like the college athletes who stop playing and no longer need a high calorie diet. We gave her the title of "Fat and Sassy". She has the beautiful color combination of a brown patched tabby (torbie) with white paws and bib. However, her coat texture is very cottony, almost woolly. With her weight gain, she hasn't been able to to clean herself as well as she could when she was more svelt. Sassy has always been a big girl, something valued by Maine Coon breeders and cat show judges. She produced extraordinarily large kittens. Now she weighs 18 pounds and looks fat with her poofy, cottony coat. With the summer heat, she also looked really hot. She had a few mats, but nothing I couldn't comb out. However, I decided to take the plunge and invest in electric clippers, thinking I would shave a couple of cats completely or just their bellies instead of taking them to the vet.
Now I know what you're thinking....I tried to shave Sassy and she tore my face off. Nope. Not at all. Sassy was very cooperative and actually seemed to enjoy the feel of the clippers. Kelsey held her for me to get Sassy's belly, but the hardest part was how long it took. I hope I get better at this with practice. After at least an hour of clipping, I had a full bag of hair, a general fuzzy appearance to my own clothing and a very different-looking, slightly ridiculous, but happy cat. Sassy doesn't even look like a Maine Coon now, but the surprising discovery was that under all that fur, there wasn't a fat cat. Sure, she looks beefy, but not nearly as obese as I thought she would.
As I marveled to Kelsey about how much better Sassy's body looked than I'd envisioned, my smart-alec teenager made a parting comment as she disappeared upstairs to her bedroom: "Maybe if you shave yourself Mom, you won't look as fat either."