The Mat On The Cat: How To Keep Your Long-Haired Kitty From Getting Tangles


Most cats are pros at grooming themselves, but long-haired breeds almost always require additional help to stay smooth and mat-free. If your cat is getting tangles and knots in its fur, there are some ways to minimize the problem.

The Problem with Mats

Mats form in places where the fur rubs together, such as between legs, behind ears and around collars. It's also easy for mats to form if your cat cannot groom itself for any reason, such as being ill or having surgery.

It seems like mats are just a minor nuisance, but they can quickly cause significant problems. For one, cats have relatively thin, sensitive skin, especially in the places where mats tend to form. The mats can knot and pull at the skin, causing discomfort. If your cat tries to bite or pull at a mat, it can create a wound on the skin.

Fleas and other pests also tend to congregate where the fur is thickest, and that means that any mats are especially attractive places for them to live, lay eggs and bite. Removing mats makes it easier for you to keep these parasites off your pet.

How to Prevent Mats

Keeping your cat well groomed and in good health are the best ways to reduce matted fur. 

  1. Regular brushing. Use grooming equipment that is optimized for your cat's coat. A slicker brush -- a flat brush with thin steel bristles -- is going to be ideal for most long-haired cats. You'll also need a fine-toothed comb to use on the areas where tangles start to form.
  2. Good diet. Cats who do not get enough protein have duller, thinner fur that can more easily get matted. Most commercial cat foods with a meat item as the first ingredient will provide enough protein for an average cat, but you may need to supplement a long-haired cat's diet with some additional canned or raw food, or cooked chicken, beef or fish. 
  3. Dental care. When your cat's teeth start to hurt for any reason, the animal is less able to, essentially, chew out mats when they start to form. Infection and bacteria in the mouth can also make your cat smell less-than-pleasant, which can keep you from wanting to put in the time to brush regularly. Have your veterinarian give your kitty a complete dental checkup at least once a year.

Removing Mats

Because cats have thin skin, you put them at risk if you try to remove mats yourself. Scissors can nick the skin, leading to a wound and possibly an infection. 

There are mat removal tools on the market, but these usually incorporate a razor blade or sharp edge of some kind. Use with caution.

Your best bet for getting existing mats off your cat is to take it to a professional cat groomer or a veterinarian. Once a professional gets the mats off, resume regular brushing to prevent them from reforming.


27 August 2015

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