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Combing Out a Mat from Your Cat's Hair or Fur

What Causes Mats

Fur mats for a variety of reasons. Mats tend to occur wherever there is rubbing or movement, such as between the legs, under the chest, under the tail and around the collar or due to shedding. They also can occur on the shoulders and hindquarters from the pressure of lying down—even if your cat is snoozing in your lap! The longer it's left unattended, the tighter and bigger the mats will become and simultaneously they will sit closer to the skin.

Why Mats Are Bad

Matted fur is damaging to your cat's skin as it prevents oxygen and moisture from reaching her skin. Also, the clumps of fur put pressure on the skin, weakening it. Mats also can become a breeding ground for parasites.

How to Remove a Mat

If the mat isn't too big or too tight, the best way to tackle it is to gently work it apart with your fingers then gently comb out the smaller tangles with a metal comb. Using an oil-based detangling spray will help to comb through the hair. Hold the hair below the tangle (next to skin) and gently separate the tangle into smaller pieces. Short, fast strokes are better, as there's less pulling on the skin, which can be painful!

Never try to cut out a mat. Cats have very delicate skin and, because mats happen close to the skin and because you can't really see what you are doing as a result, it's very easy to cut into the skin and cause excessive bleeding and a wound that may even need stitching. Alternatively, if you nick the skin and it goes unnoticed, the area can get badly infected.

The longer the cat's hair, the more likely it is to mat. That's why, apart from regular brushing and combing, it's also important to run your fingers through your cat's fur.

When to Seek Professional Help

Removing badly matted fur can be painful to your cat. And, often, if the situation is very bad, her entire coat will have to be shaved. This is definitely a job for a professional pet stylist or veterinarian, both of whom have the tools and the knowledge about how to remove mats efficiently without stressing or injuring your pet in the process. When you book your appointment, also ask for advice about the correct shampoo, detangling conditioners and sprays that you can use at home as part of your regular grooming routine.

How to Prevent Mats

Regularly brushing your cat's fur is the No. 1 way to help keep mats at bay. Be sure to run your fingers through her coat so that you can feel any clumps of fur that may be below the surface.