Turns out that even cats can have bad hair days! Learn how to easily detangle matted cat fur and how to get rid of mats for good with these actionable tips.
Most cats are pretty good at grooming themselves. This means that outside of regularly brushing them, you may not have to do much to help your cat prevent mats and keep their skin and coat healthy and tangle-free.
Cats that have poor grooming habits or poor skin and coat health, eat a poor-quality diet, or are injured are all more likely to struggle with matted cat fur.
What Causes Matted Cat Fur?
Everything from the weather to your cat's health can cause matting, says Daniel Lioyryan, Ph.D., cat groomer and co-owner of Cats in the City in Portland, Ore. Here's a quick overview of what could be causing those stubborn mats in your cat's fur.
1. Excess Cat Fur
Mats can form if your cat’s undercoat accumulates excess fur because the fur isn’t brushed regularly or it doesn’t easily shred away.
Long-haired cats are especially prone to having excess cat fur, but this can also happen to short-haired cats as well. In fact, the undercoats of short-haired cats can be thicker than long-haired cats’ undercoats.
Skin infections and wounds can also cause matting over the area that is affected. This is actually pretty dangerous. Not only will your cat have matted fur, but the restricted airflow can cause the underlying infection to get worse.
The undercoats of cats can’t expand in humid conditions. This is true during peak shedding season. This can cause matting in cats.
Some cat breeds have thick undercoats, which can make them more likely to get cat mats. Breeds with luscious and thick locks include:
- Main coons
- Norwegian forest cats
- Russian blue breeds
As cats age, their mobility can decrease, and it can become difficult to groom spots that are hard to reach, including fur on the back, the base of the tail, and hips, which can lead to matting. Age is one of the most common reasons for matted cat fur on the back.
6. Excessive Body Oil
Excess body oils are common with cats that have underlying conditions, including seborrhea and hyperthyroid disease. Intact cats, especially males, are also more susceptible to having excess body oil. Any condition that causes increased body oils can cause a cat to get matted fur.
Overweight cats aren’t as mobile and can’t rotate as well, which means he won’t be able to groom as well, either. Excess body weight can cause a number of problems, including increased oils and matted cat fur.
How to Remove Matted Cat Fur
Now that you know what not to do, here are some practical tips on detangling cat fur.
1. Gather Your Tools
Gather everything that you’ll need to get the mat out of cat fur. If the mat is very small, you may only need to use your fingers- but a brush or comb can go a long way for prevention, so you should have this handy as well.
For larger and more compacted cat fur mats, you will need the right brush. Dematting brushes, skip toothbrushes, or slicker brushes are the best kind to detangle cat hair.
2. Work out the Mats
Matted cat fur can be difficult to work out. It’s important to make sure you and your cat are relaxed. Start by separating the unmatted hair from the matted hair. It’s important to isolate the mat to the best of your ability.
To prevent your cat’s skin from being pulled, gently put one hand on your cat. With your other hand, slip the comb teeth or brush underneath the fur mat to gradually detangle cat hair. For thick mats, start from the ends and work your way back.
3. Best Products for De-matting Your Cat
There are a lot of products on the market to help detangle cat hair. Here are some of the top products to help remove matted cat fur.
Furminator Adjustable deMatter Tool
Furminator Adjustable deMatter Tool efficiently and safely removes cat mats (and even dog mats) from hair. It is one of the best cat brushes for matted fur. The FURextender button adjusts the edges to accommodate the length of your cat’s hair.
For your safety and convenience, an easy slide tab locks to the desired position. Curved de-matting edges also give you another layer of safety.
Made from durable scratch-resistant steel, this deMatter tool will last a lifetime. The handle is non-slip and ergonomic, making it easier to control the brush for maximum de-matting.
Skout's Honor Probiotic Detangler for Dogs & Cats
Skout's Honor Probiotic Detangler is a highly-rated spray that you can use daily. It helps free your pet of tangles by hydrating fur, making it easier to brush.
The spray uses a combination of probiotics and avocado oil to prevent and soothe skin problems, including hot spots, excessive shedding, dryness, itchiness, and more.
This detangler is cruelty-free and natural, free of scent, parabens, sulphates, petrolatum, triclosan, DEA and other added dyes or colours, making it perfect for sensitive skin (and your own peace of mind as a pet parent!)
Additionally, every product that is purchased from Skout’s Honor line supports animals in need through the Paw Pledge program. With every bottle that is bought, a day’s food is given to an animal in need.
4. Consult a Groomer if Necessary
Consulting a groomer isn’t admitting defeat. If you are unable to de-mat your cat's fur, go to a qualified groomer. There are also certain areas, such as armpits, behind the ears, and near the cat’s sanitary areas, that may be too sensitive to comb.
In these cases, or if your cat’s fur is severely matted, a professional may be best. A groomer has a great deal of experience in de-matting cat fur and can help get your cat’s fur in tip-top shape in no time.
Cat Dematting Don'ts
If you’re wondering how to deal with matted cat fur, you aren’t alone. Dealing with matted fur can be difficult for both you and your furry friend.
When choosing how to get rid of cat matted fur, there are a few don’ts:
- Don’t use scissors. Cutting matted fur can actually be dangerous. Many cat owners don’t realize that their cat is actually injured under all that fur. It can be really hard to tell exactly what is going on under a mat, especially if your cat has a thick coat.
- Don’t use olive oil. Many DIY options state olive oil is a good option, but this can actually make mats worse! As you know, increased oil production can lead to mats in fur. So putting olive oil on can really cause more damage!
- Avoid bathing your cat or using products that are not explicitly designed for detangling matted hair in cats.
Preventing Cat Matted Fur
The best way to handle matted fur on your cat is to prevent it from happening. Now that your cat is hopefully mat free, you can take a few simple steps to prevent your furry friend from getting mats in her fur.
We'll get into regular grooming habits in this section, but first, it's important to understand that your cat's health starts from the inside out.
This means that a cat fed a healthy, high-moisture diet and leads an active lifestyle is going to have healthier skin and coat and will be less likely to suffer from fur matting, excessive shedding, and hairballs.
After you've addressed your cat's basic health needs, you should look into the best tools to help you groom your cat and prevent matting issues.
Best Products to Prevent Matted Cat Fur
With so many products on the market, it can be hard to choose. Here are some of our favourite products to prevent matted cat hair.
Baxter & Bella Shedding Comb for Long-Haired Cats
Baxter & Bella Shedding Comb is the perfect grooming accessory for your feline friend. Designed with two different lengths of metal teeth to aid with removing debris, loose hair, tangles, and mats and lifts shedding hair from the undercoat. The comb is comfortable to hold thanks to its non-slip, ergonomic handle for a fun and pleasant grooming experience.
Furminator Deshedding Tool for Cats with Long Hair
Furminator DeShedding Tools for Cats are revolutionary deshedding tools, guaranteed to reduce your cat's shedding by up to 90%. This product is guaranteed to reduce your cats shedding more than any other comb, rake, or brush.
This can really help remove loose cat fur and the undercoat of your cat, which can help reduce the risks of developing matted cat fur.
This brush is perfect for small cats who are up to ten pounds with fur that is longer than two inches. The SkinGuard glides over your cat’s skin to help remove debris and dirt from the fur.
Tips to Keep Your Cat’s Fur Healthy
If your cat has dry skin and a dull coat, then you should look at her diet and water intake.
Feed your cat high-quality food to ensure that they get the right nutrients and fatty acids. This will not only help every aspect of your cat’s health, including the coat and skin.
Additional supplements, like fish oil, can help to condition the skin and coat, which may help to prevent future matting in cats.
Pay special attention during spring and fall. This is when cats are more likely to shed and suffer from dry cat skin issues. Regular grooming habits, as well as a good diet, can put a stop to frequent mats in most cats.
Matted Cat Fur FAQs
Why is my cat's fur suddenly matting?
Sudden instances of matted cat fur could be an indicator that something else is wrong. If your cat has stopped grooming, it could be a sign of illness or injury. Contact your vet to rule out serious health issues.
Should I cut my cat's matted fur?
Avoid cutting out mats of fur if you can. Matted fur could be hiding a wound or injury, and you never want to risk further injury. Brushing the mat out is the safest option.
Does matted fur hurt cats?
The mat itself isn't painful, but it can be very irritating and even painful for the skin surrounding the fur. Bigger mats will pull and could rip out fur when your cat moves or tries to groom the area.
Should I bathe a matted cat?
Avoid bathing a cat with mats. Not only will the mat get heavier when wet, but it will also make it more difficult to brush out. Cat matted fur will also have a more difficult time drying off, and this could lead to bacteria festering in the damp mat.