You may not be aware, but mats in a cat’s fur are a very serious issue, and really can make a difference to your cats health and well-being. If mats are far progressed then the cat literally becomes a prisoner in its own fur.

Not only long-haired cats suffer from matting of the coat!

This is often an unintentional problem on the owners behalf, but once discovered can be a huge source of guilt. Let me just make it clear at this point that there is no point stressing over it,  it just needs resolving and a care plan putting in place to ensure it never happens again.

The main reason why a cat’s fur mats, is simply because it has not been cared for and groomed how it should. It’s a case of maintenance, and teaching the cat as early as possible how to behave whilst it is being groomed. Cats can only do so much for their own fur, so we have to do the rest for them. Grooming their fur not only reduces the likelihood of mats, but also lessens the chance of nasty fur-balls and loose fur around the house.

Mats are painful for the cat. Can you imagine just tickling the end of your hair with a brush but never getting to the root? What will happen?

It’s the same for cats and they occur in the most inconvenient of places! Behind the legs, in the armpits and groin area are all hot spots for mats. The mats slowly become more tangled over time until they get to the point where they morph into a shield-like, hard lump which is basically suspended over the cats skin by singular hairs. Over time the mats get tighter and tighter, putting more pressure on these individual hairs, pulling against the skin as the cat moves, ultimately limiting what the cat can do physically which can have a knock-on effect on the cats overall health, and that’s without considering the pain they cause.

Fact: the mat, and below it is a bacterial breeding ground.

Other impacts from mats include the opening of wounds from the tightness of the mats which have consistently pulled against the skin until it breaks. Because this skin is beneath the mat and is an open wound it is breeding-heaven for bacteria and other nasties. In extreme cases it is not that uncommon to find maggots festering in open wounds beneath the mats in particularly bad cases. I don’t think I need to elaborate further.

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Above is an example of a cat who had to have an intense, very time-consuming clip because of matting being at a severe stage. In some parts of the cats coat, although the matting hadn’t broken the skin, it had, over time ripped the fur out. In this case, it was questionable whether the fur would ever grow back in parts. Fleas also hide beneath matted coats which can have a serious impact on your cats health and the cleanliness of your home, putting both human and other animals in the house at risk.

If mats are in the groin area, then urine, faeces and other excretions all inter-mingle in the fur, bedding deeper into the mat. Saliva can play an important part in the rotting of skin beneath the mats, particularly in certain breeds of cat who are physiologically more likely to groom themselves with regularity and/or very thoroughly. Yes, I said rotting.

But how to get rid of them?

You should NEVER tackle the mats in a cats coat with scissors!

Some people bring their cats in and request a full clip, simply because they know they either haven’t the time, or cannot keep up with the fur on their cats coat. This is perfectly reasonable and shows dedication and the acceptance of responsibility for the care of their felines fur, sometimes it goes beyond whether or not a cats fur should be left whole and intact. Not all clipping work is conducted with vanity in mind, it’s too easy to judge.

Tackling mats on your own with scissors (or even clippers in some cases) is dangerous. Cats rarely sit still so that you can tweak the blades in-between the mat and cut it off. Aside from anything else it always looks unsightly and leaves you (and the cat!) with uneven regrowth.

The tools required for getting rid of tangles and mats are varied, and often fur type dependent. Your cat should be groomed at least every other day, because the removal of the excess fur helps them as well as the amount of fur which is left lying around the house. I will go into this in another post.

You’ve found a mat in your cats fur, what do you do? Using your own tools you can try to untangle it (without using scissors or other blades such as the furminator!). A slicker brush will not help you here, combs are best. You must be gentle – as covered earlier, this mat will be pulling at your cats skin. Try to comb through the mat, if your cat will sit still long enough then you’re very lucky but it’s a start. If the cat is not too unhappy about it, see if someone will help you hold him/her. You’ll realise pretty quickly if it is too matted to be combed out.

Before/During the removal of heavily matted fur. The cat was quite lifeless and uninterested at this point. In this instance, I decided to try to save as much of the coat as possible.

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As time went on, and the mats were removed, the cat became visibly more inquisitive and interested in the surroundings of the salon. I took another photo at the end to show the difference in the cats coat. Look at the colour too, none of my photographs are enhanced in any way.

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Of course, you can just take your cat to a groomer. However, de-matting is not standard procedure when it comes to grooming, and you will have to pay a premium because it is a labour and skill intensive job to do. On the upside this could well only be a one-off occurrence if you maintain your cats coat afterwards. Some groomers simply do not offer the service at all. I do.

Don’t be surprised if the groomer refuses to de-mat because they consider the mat to be too ‘far gone’ to save the fur. This will mean getting the clippers out to shave your pet entirely. A good groomer will not persist in trying to untangle a mat at your request, thus ignoring the suffering of the cat. The time for vanity was before the coat got matted if I’m blunt, so usually you’ll be offered the clipping option in order to reduce the stress your cat will go through during the grooming procedure.

Maintenance is key, and anyone with five spare minutes a day can do it. Please feel free to share this post if you feel it will help enable awareness of the need to maintain our cats coats.

Until next time x