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Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

Matted Cat Hair: How to Help Your Feline Friends

By: Kelli Rascoe

Cats are independent creatures. They often like to play, groom, and feed themselves on their own. It’s no surprise to see your kitten or adult cat spending an afternoon grooming themselves. Maintaining and grooming your cat’s coat is an important factor for their overall wellness. But what happens when their fur becomes hard to manage? We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about matted cat hair and tips to help your furry family member in the future.

A grey cat licking their paw sitting by a window

The ins and outs of matted cat hair

Why does a cat get matted hair?

If you’ve noticed that your cat’s fur is getting matted, there are a few things to look into. Your cat’s age or size might be affecting their desire to groom. Also, medical conditions may be at the core of the problem. Here, Nold breaks down why a cat’s fur can become matted.

“Matted hair on your cat often indicates that they have stopped grooming or aren’t grooming as effectively as they used to. There are many different causes for this, one of the more common being itchiness from skin issues such as allergies or external parasites. Matted hair can also occur in an obese cat that can no longer reach certain parts of their body with their tongue to groom.

Matted hair is more common in older cats, as an underlying illness can cause lethargy or pain resulting in your cat no longer being interested or able to groom effectively. For example, some conditions that can be found in a cat with matted hair include chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, dental disease, or arthritis.”

If you start to notice a change in your cat’s fur, please seek the expertise of your veterinarian. Also, they can determine the next best steps and recommend a treatment plan to get your furry family member well again. For more on cats and kidney disease, click here.

Signs of matted cat hair

Whether you have a long-haired adult cat or a growing kitten, your cat’s fur may change over time. As a cat owner, it is important to be mindful of any changes in your cat’s behavior. For example, overly grooming or lack of grooming could be an indication of something more. Nold points out some common signs of matted cat hair and what to watch for.

Consider the following:

  • Cat’s hair may no longer look or feel soft.
  • Tough fur sticks up in tufts.
  • Hair mats can occur all over the body or in isolated areas, like the stomach or lower back.
  • Hair mats can be painful when they pull on the skin as your cat moves.

Also, “if the hair mat is large enough or left untreated long enough it can result in a secondary skin infection that will have to be treated,” says Nold. For an additional resource on skin infections, read here.

An orange tabby cat cleaning its paw and claws

Steps to help your feline with matted cat hair

No cat owner wants to see their furry family member uncomfortable or in pain. Naturally, matted cat hair could easily go undetected if your feline has longer fur. Also, cats tend to hide pain and don’t always show signs of being sick. Nold advises on steps to help your best friend.

“If this is a new issue with your cat, they should be examined by your veterinarian to try to determine the underlying cause. Also, depending on your cat’s temperament, and the size of the hair mat, your cat may have to be sedated by your veterinarian to have the hair mats removed. Otherwise, you may be able to slowly work at the mat with a flea comb or make an appointment with a professional cat groomer. Further, don’t try to cut out the hair mat with scissors, as you can cause more harm than good if the cat moves and you cut the skin instead.”

The importance of medical care

Because of this, whether your cat has one mat or multiple mats, the best course of action to help your furry family member is to seek medical care. Naturally, your cat may be uncomfortable and it may make your cat lash out by biting or scratching. Naturally, the last thing you want is your cat to be scared and confused.

Tips to help prevent matted cat hair

Matted cat hair can easily go undetected. Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or a seasoned cat owner, cat grooming tips may come in handy. Consider the following tips by Nold for matted cat hair prevention:

  • Have your cat examined by a veterinarian at least annually to try to catch any underlying diseases early.
  • Long-haired cats may need regular preventative grooming.
  • Keep your cat on regular flea prevention.

A small orange and white cat snoozes on a blanket

Matted cat hair: prevent and treat with care

Cat fur can become matted despite the age, breed, or size of your feline friend. Further, by being proactive, seeking medical care, and consulting with your veterinarian your furry family member may soon be free of tangles and back to grooming with ease.

To discover more about cat grooming, read Why Is My Cat Shedding So Much? 

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Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.

This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

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