Causes of Matted Hair in Cats
Updated: Feb 11
First, some background on how your cat got into this trouble.· Overweight, old or sick cats can have a hard time reaching all areas of their bodies for grooming.· When animals don’t feel well, they stop grooming. They could be in pain from dental problems or arthritis , or they could have nausea.· Indoor-only and short-hair cats can also get mats from a build-up of dust and dander.· Some medicines like lactulose it makes the saliva sticky so when they groom it gets into the coat.Matts are clumps of hair that have become entangled or knotted over time. The matts can become uncomfortable and even painful for your cat. Some matts with develop with regular movement (at top of legs), and others build up over time without grooming. They also cause skin irritation and infection.Most matts will come out with gentle teasing & brushing, but hard matts can require extra work. You might notice an odour coming from your cat and consider bath time, but giving your cat a bath can actually make matts worse.
Keep the Hair Dry
Adding water to your cat’s fur can make the matt set even tighter.Pet groomers recommend a detangle or anti-static spray, but most matts can be removed without these products. I use detanglers but only where really necessary and heavy matting is evident.If there is a bad knot don’t pull at it or use the old rats tail method that Grandma did to you when you had knots, .you will tear the cats skin. If you have a difficult knot, close to the skin. massage it for a few days with Corn Starch…not Talc ..it will free the knot and ease it away from the skin..
How to Remove Matts from a Long-Haired Cat
1. Using a Wide-Toothed Comb Regular brushing is recommended for your cat’s coat health, and most knots and matts can be removed this way.If you notice the matts are a little thicker or more tightly knotted, you can use a brush with teeth or a wide-toothed comb: When you reach a matt, hold the fur closest to the skin with your fingers before brushing or pulling at the mat. This helps control the resistance from your brushing and avoids pulling on the cat’s skin.· Start at the end of the matt and work your way up. This helps prevent the pain of the brush getting stuck.· If your cat has a thick undercoat, try an undercoat comb. It has 2 sets of teeth at different lengths, which may work better.
2. Using a Matt CombIf regular brushing or using the wide-toothed comb doesn’t work, there is another brush called a matt comb, sometimes called a razor comb. This is a brush with recessed blades that will cut the hair as you brush.It’s particularly helpful if you can get under the matt. Just remember to hold the base of the cat’s fur and skin to reduce pain and pulling.
3. Using ClippersIf all these methods are still unsuccessful, you can use an electric razor (clippers) to cut the matts out. We recommend that you get a groomer to do this.Make sure the skin is flat and tight as you use the razor, or else you might cut or tear the skin.A cat’s skin is thin and sensitive to the heat that clippers can create. So, press the tool against your arm to make sure it is not warm before using it on the cat — and check the temperature often.If you can’t comb the matt out or use clippers, seeking professional help from a groomer or a vet is a great idea
.4. Using Scissors to Remove Matts from a Long-Haired Cat (NOT Recommended)We strongly advise against using scissors to cut the matts out. It is easy to cut your cat’s skin with scissors — not to mention painful.If you still think you can use scissors, it’s extremely important to tease the matt away from the skin and have a visual on the area before picking up scissors. We like to see a good 1/4 inch or more of space between the mat and the skin before cutting.· Use a comb to lift the hair from the skin.· Cut only the edges of the matt on the outside of the comb to loosen the fur.· Detangle what’s left of the mat with a brush or comb.Once you have removed the matts, you’re not done yet. Check the cat’s skin for any irritations, infections or sores. See your veterinarian if it appears that treatment is needed.
What If I Accidentally Cut My Cat?Treatment for scissor wounds:· Clean the wound with warm water or a little diluted hydrogen peroxide.· Seek veterinary help if you see an open laceration and the muscle layer exposed beneath the cut.· Your vet can assess whether the area will close on its own with topical treatment or if suturing or surgical glue is required. In our experience, the worst are the wounds behind the ear.
What If the Cut Is Serious?If you’ve cut the cat while trying to remove matted hair, and the cut looks serious, please see the vet!People usually get a double-whammy dose of guilt when they accidentally cut their pet’s skin.
-First whammy: They know the pet got too matted, and they feel neglectful.
-Second whammy: Pets groom themselves less as they age. These unkempt creatures are often debilitated, so people feel particularly upset about hurting a pet who is already in pain.
Pets at most risk of getting cut:· Long-haired cats· Pets (usually older cats) with very thin skin due to a medical problem· Aging, arthritic, debilitated or obese pets who groom less or cannot reach certain areas
Don’t Lie to the Vet People come up with the craziest stories about how the unknown laceration appeared on their pet. Some will even say they had no idea how these injuries occurred:· “Maybe the cat got caught in a fence.”· “I bet she pulled out that matt herself.”· “I know the other cat bit her the other day.”Scissor lacerations don’t look like any of the above injuries. A tell-tale sign of a human-induced mishap is the clear-cut fur surrounding the laceration or the clean cut on the skin that can only be made by a sharp implement.It’s best to ‘fess up” to the truth so the wound can be treated appropriately by the veterinarian.
Preventing Mats in a Cat The “ounce of prevention” rule works well here, and it’s great if the matted fur never starts in the first place, but stuff happens.· Keep an eye out for matts on your pet and remove them get into a routine make grooming a joy not a pain. For example, get that obese kitty a “Brazilian Clip” by her big butt! She does not want to hold onto those little bottom berries · Keep the area at top of legs free of matts .......this is an area where if mats develop it can pull at delicate skin and tear it. · Keep on top of long-haired cats who don’t groom. Non-Grooming is often also a first sign of illness. watch carefully and if in doubt go to the Vet.· Vets will help you with some clipping, it’s a lot easier to clip away a matt than to suture up a bad scissor injury.
Final Thoughts Keeping up with regular brushing is the best way to avoid mats building up, and it is especially recommended for long-haired cats.When you sit with the cat try and handle their paws. I stroke paws from when they are tiny kittens, it then is not such a shock when you go to trim claws.Try to groom your cat when they are calm, I always clip nails last, my logic is when first cut a claw can cause more damage to you than an uncut one. Sadly, I see many cats that people say oh he is nervous, hates grooming. Breeders and Families must take responsibility for that. ……grooming should be part of a cat’s early socialisation training. They should be comfortable with a brush comb & nail clipper. When you find a matt, it does not need to be attacked immediately and dragged out with any means. Please Please do not pull on it and frighten the cat… so often I see cats whose family bring the groomer in as the last resort. Grooming in a calm pleasant atmosphere for both the cat and you can be a pleasurable experience for both of you. Teach them the tools are not the problem…its actually the person handling the tools… Take time to learn the ways to use those tools and which ones to use...Lastly I always say if you are not sure how that comb, brush or rake will feel try it on yourself..if it hurts you it will definitely hurt you cat whose skin is so much more delicate than yours..