Are Mats in Cat Fur Dangerous for the Cat?

"This mat is huge; I am so ashamed."

"This mat is huge; I am so ashamed."

Imagine walking around all day with hair so knotted it constantly pulls on your scalp. That’s what a matted cat experiences; no wonder she’s in such a rotten mood. Matted fur is uncomfortable and painful for your kitty. It’s essential to keep her coat healthy, soft and tangle-free.

Knotted Uncomfortable Fur

Mats are essentially clumps of knotted fur in your cat’s coat. Different from a singular tangle, mats will feel like a dense piece of carpet on your kitty’s otherwise soft fur. Matting ranges from minor to severe but is always irritating. As the mat grows larger and deeper into your cat’s fur, it pulls on her sensitive skin every time she moves, ouch.

Conditions Associated With Mats

Pruritis -- itchy, inflamed skin -- when matted fur traps moisture and irritants close to your cat’s skin. This can lead to lesions or secondary skin infection in severe cases of matting. To prevent this, evaluate your cat’s behavior if she’s a regular victim of mats. Healthy kitties prevent most mats with regular self-grooming. It’s important to find out why she’s unable to properly groom herself. She may be depressed, have an injury or suffer from a medical condition such as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism results in a slower metabolism and causes dry skin and fur and excess shedding, possibly so severe that it leads to hair loss or alopecia. The combination of dry hair and increased shedding can lead to a matted, unkempt-looking kitty. Consult your veterinarian to determine the root cause of her matted fur.

Treatment

Treating mats depends on their severity. You can attempt to eliminate small mats with a thorough brushing. Gently brush the area around the mat to make it smaller. Then switch to a fine-tooth comb to pick apart the mat and brush it away. This process takes patience; with luck, the picking action will eventually loosen the mat away from your cat’s skin. Never attempt to cut out a mat with scissors; you may end up cutting your kitty’s skin. If the mat is too large to be safely removed at home, she may need to have it shaved out at the groomer’s. In extremely severe cases, where lesions are present or mats cover a large portion of cat's body, enlist the care of your veterinarian. Your kitty may need to be sedated to safely remove her mats.

Prevention

Mats can be extremely painful, so it’s important to prevent them if at all possible. Regular grooming, daily brushing and monthly baths help prevent many mats. Start brushing your cat at an early age to get her used to the process. You might try offering her treats if she seems particularly resistant to the experience. Though stressful for some cats, regular brushing benefits you both in the end. She’ll be mat-free, and you’ll be stress-free.

 

About the Author

Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.

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