How do cats self-groom? What causes matted cat fur? How can a cat be de-matted? Do cats ever need to be shaved? Vets from our PetVet Care Centers member hospitals share how matted fur can be prevented and when a matted cat should see a groomer.
Matted Cat Hair
Matting occurs when a cat's fur becomes knotted and entangled. Left unaddressed, this can become painful and dangerous to a kitty's health.
Today, we'll explain why matting occurs, whether matted fur needs to be shaved, how to have a cat safely and effectively de-matted, and how to prevent matted fur in the future. We'll also discuss when to visit a groomer.
How do cats self-groom?
Cats are well-known for being thorough self-groomers. They spend much of their day grooming their fur. If your cat licks your hand often, you may be familiar with those rough bumps on their tongue. These tiny, backward-facing barbs are called papillae and are there to remove loose dirt and hair. The barbs also promote good circulation in the skin.
Since cats can bend their heads and body to reach almost anywhere on their body, flexibility is another advantage they have in the self-grooming department.
Why do cats get matted fur?
Cats may get matted fur for several potential reasons. This condition mostly occurs in long-haired cats when knots and tangles develop in their fur.
When a cat sheds their undercoat, the top coat may retain fur that can then get caught. If your kitty's fur gets oily or dirty, it can become entwined and matted. Places where a lot of movement happens, such as around the collar, under the chest and between the legs, can also become susceptible to matting if fur is not properly maintained.
While cats are usually excellent self-groomers, matting can and still does happen. Long-haired cats especially have a lot of fur to tend to, and even the most diligent feline may not be able to rid their fur of everything that can get stuck in it. It can also prove difficult to maintain areas where a lot of movement or rubbing occur.
Other cats have health conditions that lead to frequent and thorough grooming becoming a challenge. Dental health issues may make using their mouths painful. Obesity and age, along with conditions such as arthritis can also factor in to poor grooming habits and impair a cat's flexibility to properly groom themselves and prevent matting.
Why has my cat's fur gone lumpy?
A buildup of natural oils in a cat's coat can lead to greasy, lumpy and clumpy fur. Self-grooming serves an important purpose in that it redistributes these oils evenly throughout the fur, but if they don't groom sufficiently or frequently enough, these oils can accumulate and mats can form.
What are the dangers of fur matting?
The longer matted fur is left unaddressed, the more problematic - and painful - it becomes as knots tighten and cause discomfort and potential health issues for your cat.
Because cats sometimes conceal their discomfort out of instinct, it's important to ensure your cat is getting groomed appropriately and that fur matting isn't becoming an issue. Also note any changes in behavior.
Over time, mats become itchy and hot on your kitty's skin, leading to inflammation, irritation and possible infection. The mats also become tighter.
How can I remove matted cat hair?
If your cat's fur becomes matted, you can attempt to comb or brush it out with your fingers or by using a mat breaker, which are smaller than grooming brushes and may help to detangle mats that haven't grown too tight.
However, with some mats there's a risk that your cat will become stressed with a prolonged brushing session or that brushing will cause pain. We always tell cat owners to never use scissors in an attempt to cut mats out.
What may have begun as a minor nuisance can lead to cases of extreme matting, which may require the cat to be put under anesthesia and shaved.
When it comes to finding out how to remove seriously matted cat hair, it's best to schedule an appointment with our professional groomers in . If your cat has matted hair, we can assess them and recommend a course of action.
If the mats are only impacting the fur, the groomer will likely comb or shave them using electric clippers. However, if the mats are also affecting the skin, your cat may require veterinary care to remove them and to correct any skin irritation and inflammation that may have occurred.
While each cat is different and will have different needs depending on your cat's breed, their coat type and length of hair, we recommend most should have a monthly grooming session.
We offer pet grooming services for all breeds of cats and dogs one day each week and can help you to keep your furry friend's fur clean, tidy and healthy.
Our groomers have the experience and knowledge to groom pet coats of all types and work with animals of a wide variety of temperaments. Grooming services include brushing and de-matting, full haircuts, bathing, nail trimming, de-shedding treatments, breed-specific haircuts and ear cleaning.
How can I prevent fur matting?
There are a few things you can do to prevent your cat's fur from becoming matting, including:
- Regular daily brushing using a soft-bristle brush to start (then one that's appropriate for your cat's fur)
- Discussing diet and nutrition with your veterinarian (perhaps include more vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids to maintain a healthy coat)
- Scheduling professional grooming sessions and consulting our groomers for tips
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.