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Matted Cat Fur: Solutions and Prevention

Matted Cat Fur: Solutions and Prevention

Cats are known for being consistent with their grooming. More often than not, if your cat isn’t napping, they’re cleaning and preening themselves, making sure that they look “just right.”

Long-hair cats (Persian, Norwegian Forest, Balinese, Maine Coone, etc.) and cats who shed a lot are prone to matted fur. Part of the problem is the volume of fur, but that can be made worse by poor grooming habits and other issues. Matted fur can be uncomfortable and painful for your cat, and if left untreated, those mats can lead to skin infections.

Despite their best grooming efforts, sometimes your cat needs your help. Read on to find out some causes of matted fur and tips for treating matted fur on cats.

The Purpose of Grooming

Cats don’t groom themselves to look good. Grooming helps keep the fur clean and prevents fleas from staking a claim. When a cat licks their fur, it helps to keep it clean, but it does something else as well.

Cats have glands called sebaceous glands that produce an oil that helps lubricate the skin and keep it healthy. When a cat licks its fur, it stimulates these glands.

Left untreated, matted hair provides a perfect nesting place for fleas, other parasites, and skin infections. In long-hair cats, if the mats on their hindquarters get too bad, it can make it hard for the cat to use the restroom.

What Causes Matted Hair?

1. Debris can cause matted fur. Because indoor cats live in a temperature-controlled environment, they shed year-round. Over time, the hair on the floor combined with bits of dirt and debris can cause matted hair.

2. The litter box can be part of the problem. This is especially true for long hair cats. Clumping litter gets stuck in the long hair of their “pants” on their back legs.

3. Your cat going outside might contribute to matted fur. If your cat goes outside, they might get into something sticky, like tree sap stuck in their coat.

4. Being overweight, having arthritis, or a condition that makes it painful for your cat to move can cause matted fur. If your cat is a bit overweight or has arthritis, both of those conditions could make it hard for your cat to reach all of their bits and pieces.

5. Cats can get lazy. Believe it or not, there are some cats that are just lazy about their grooming, especially if they have long hair.

8 Tips for Removing Mats from Long-Hair Cats

Before you start, you need to understand that de-matting a cat’s fur can be a slow process depending on how many mats and knots you’re removing. You may have to do it in multiple sessions to keep the process from hurting your cat. Read on for some helpful tips on how to remove that pesky, matted fur.

1. DO NOT USE SCISSORS. With long-hair cats, it’s hard to see where the fur ends and the skin begins. Scissors can cut your cat, so they’re best not used. If you feel you must use scissors, make sure they have dull ends (no points).

2. Do not give your cat a bath. Water only makes matted hair worse, especially with long-hair cats.

3. Have someone help you. If your cat doesn’t mind outsiders, sometimes it’s a good idea to have another set of hands while you’re removing mats. Your friend can distract kitty while you go to work on the matted hair.

4. Use your fingers first. If the mat isn’t too bad, sometimes you can gently tease it apart with your fingers.

5. Put on a pair of sturdy gloves. Gardening gloves will do nicely. If your cat gets a little upset about the process, at least your hands will be protected. Plus, gloves can help you hold the cat steady so it’s easier for you to work.

6. Use a comb or a brush that’s appropriate for your cat’s hair and doesn’t hurt them. Gently start teasing the mat from the top down. If you try to put the brush on the mat, it can pull on kitty’s fur and cause them pain.

7. Consider a mat comb. If the mat is really stuck in there, you can try using what’s called a mat comb (sometimes called a razor comb). Mat combs gently cut away hair as you brush the cat.

8. Hire a groomer. If your cat is not taking kindly to your help, consult with a professional groomer. They will know how to safely and comfortably remove the matted fur. 

If you feel like you can’t get the mats out yourself, it’s time to involve the vet or a professional groomer.

Prevention

1. Brush regularly. The best thing you can do to help prevent your cat from getting matted fur is to brush them regularly and help them with their grooming. When you first notice a mat forming, tackle it immediately before it gets worse.

2 Address litter clumps in hair. Most long-hair cats have lovely, fluffy hair on their back legs. Unfortunately, those pantaloons can get matted easily from using the litterbox. Sometimes having your cat’s fluffy hindbits professionally groomed or trimmed helps prevent mats.

Stay Away from Scissors 

Many cat owners are tempted to get out the scissors and get rid of the mat immediately, but this is not recommended. Scissors can potentially cause pain.

We all love our kitties and we don’t want to see them in pain or discomfort for any longer than necessary. Using scissors on matted hair in a long-hair cat can cause more problems than they solve.

Scissors, especially those with sharp points can injure your cat, making the problem worse. If you feel like you can’t tease the mat out with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb or brush, it’s best to consult your vet or a professional groomer. Some severe cases of matting may need to be shaved, but that’s a decision best left to the professionals.

Prevention is Key 

As with many things, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best way to address mats in long-hair cats is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Have a grooming session with your kitty every other day or so. It helps them with their coat, while also creating a bonding moment for the two of you.

If you do have to remove some matted fur, do it slowly and gently. Don’t just pin the kitty down and take a brush to them. Encourage them to look forward to your grooming session by using treats! 

QUESTION: Does your long-haired kitty have trouble with matted hair? Tell us how you remove the mats from your long-hair cat.

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Kate Skilton is a professional writer and a lifelong owner and lover of cats. She currently lives with her kitty, Rogue, who runs the show.

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One Reply to “Matted Cat Fur: Solutions and Prevention”

  1. Max occasionally gets matted fur on his haunches. The vet tried using an electric razor which set Max into a panic because of the noise. So I got a set of blunt tipped scissors from Chewy. My husband holds him by the scruff while I carefully snip the mats. Brushing Max doesn’t prevent the mats.

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