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How To Get Rid of Mats in Your Cat

Updated on November 7, 2014
Appetizer
Appetizer

What Type of Cats are Prone to Mats and Tangles?

There are some breeds of cats that are more susceptible to matting. They include Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese. For the most part they are long haired cats but the length of the fur isn't the only indicator that matting may be a problem.

That big ball of fur you see above is my female Appetizer who never gets mats. However, my shorter haired male Snoop (pic below) provides a constant challenge in keeping the tangles at bay.

One of the biggest problems is that Snoop has a very thick undercoat and a lot of dander. His mats become a big problem in the spring and fall when his coat changes. He doesn't particularly like being groomed and he is overweight. Add in a little rain and his coat becomes a tangled, matted mess.

There are some health conditions such as hypothyroidism that can result in more matting. In that case the cat's metabolism slows down, it's skin gets very dry and the fur sheds in an irregular pattern with mats and clumps forming.

Old age can also be a factor. When a cat gets very old it may no longer have the energy or instincts for proper grooming.

If you have a cat that has fur that is suddenly getting more matted and tangled, talk to your veterinarian.


Snoop and his mats
Snoop and his mats

Why are Mats a Problem?

Mats and tangles don't just look bad. They can be a health hazard. When the mats get really thick they are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Be particularly vigilant about mats that form underneath the tail. If they get thick enough, they can stop the cat from being able to have a bowel movement and the feces become impacted in the body. .Sadly, this very painful manner of death kills feral cats on a regular basis.

The other major reason to worry about mats is that they are painful. Cats are extremely good at hiding pain. It's a deeply ingrained survival mechanism that dates back to their ancestors who lived in the wild and who knew, instinctively that appearing ill or injured would make them an easy prey.

Let's say someone put a piece of tar in you hair, right up against your scalp. It would be irritating and painful. That's what mats feel like to your cat.



Taking Care of Your Beautiful Ball of Fur

Long Haired Cats Need lots of Grooming
Long Haired Cats Need lots of Grooming | Source

Is Matting a Problem With Your Cat?

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My Cat is Matted. What Should I Do?

If the mats are small they are pretty easy to remove with a standard cat brush and comb. You can run the base of the mat between your thumb and forefinger to help break it up. Some people recommend using a small amount of corn starch on the mat to make it more workable.

If the mats are large, you will have to be very patient if you plan to deal with them yourselves. You may only be able to spend a few minutes a day working on the mats before your cat gets annoyed. Listen to the cat and don't push it. Removing mats is not a comfortable procedure.

The other, and usually better option is to take your cat to the veterinarian. He or she can determine if there are any underlying health issue that are contributing to your cat's mats and tangles.

Talk to your vet about giving your cat a mild sedative while the cat is getting groomed and shaved.

A few years ago we had to take our little cat in to be shaved. Rory was 22 years old, and only weighed about 3 pounds. She was badly matted. The vet said she wouldn't need anything to relax her.

Two hours later the vet called asking for permission to give Rory a sedative. I wasn't surprised. You don't get to be a 22 year old without developing some pretty good survival skills.


A Short Video on Grooming a Matted Cat

Great for Cats and Dogs

Can I Shave my Cat Myself?

I don't recommend shaving you cat or using sharp scissors to cut off the mats.

A cat's skin is extremely thin and delicate. It can be cut or punctured very easily. That can lead to infection.

The best two options are to take your time and deal with the mats slowly. (If you watched the video, you probably noticed that the groomer stopped as soon as the cat became agitated.)

The other option is to have the mats removed at the vet's office or by a professional cat groomer.

How to Prevent Mats in Your Cat

The best prevention is daily grooming. Some cats love to be brushed. Others don't seem to enjoy it.

Start grooming your cat when he or she is just a kitten and make it part of the daily routine. You can reward the kitten with a treat after each session so he or she associates the grooming with something pleasant.

Have a variety of brushes and combs at your disposal. When your cat is mat free it may enjoy a softer brushing along with a deep combing to get at the thick undercoat.

Experiment. It won't take long to discover which grooming tools your cat prefers.


Start Grooming Young for A Lifetime of Beautiful Fur

Happy, well groomed kittens
Happy, well groomed kittens | Source

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