Why Does My Cat Have Mats?

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, explains how to remove mats from a cat?s fur.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: May 9, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have a 12-year-old, semi-long-haired cat that looks like Morris the Cat. Simon is an inside cat and never ventures outside. For the past several months, Simon's hair has matted up really badly in about a dozen spots, ending near the skin. All of the mats are on his sides and underneath his body. I am afraid of cutting them below the mat with scissors for fear of catching the skin.

What has caused this? How can I remove or separate the mats without hurting him, and how can I prevent this from occurring?

Both Simon and I both would appreciate your suggestions, as he is not thrilled about the mats, and feeling these mats when you hold him is not pleasant either.

A: When mats have managed to grow to a point where they are directly adjacent to the skin, it is almost impossible to comb them out, even in the most agreeable of cats.

You will need to take him to either to a professional groomer or perhaps to your veterinarian, where the mats can be shaved off. Left untreated, the skin beneath the mats can become irritated and scaly, and a skin infection potentially could develop.

Once the mats are shaved and your cat is free of them, the only way to prevent them from occurring in the future is to brush and comb your cat on a regular basis.

Some cats enjoy this, while others don’t. Do your best. If your cat won’t allow you to brush very well or very often, you may need to bring your cat to a professional groomer on a somewhat regular basis. Long-haired cats are a bit higher maintenance than short-haired cats, as you’ve probably discovered.

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Reader Comments

Linda    Stillwater, OK

3/31/2012 8:31:45 PM

Adressed the issue I had with my 14 year old long hair. I had her clipped and now she acts depressed. She isn't lovey,hides away and isn't very active. I feel sad for her. I didn't expect this.

Linda    Mandeville, LA

5/23/2008 9:17:25 PM

My Vet says that a belgium steel comb will get through most mats and are the best to comb your cats fur with. Problem is, I haven't been able to locate where to purchase one! My cat is a Persian so mats are certainly a problem.

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