Cat fur clumping (also known as matting) is not only unsightly, but it is physically uncomfortable for cats – and in some cases painful. Cats with clumps in their fur may strike out at people who pet them over their clumps as they grow more tender over time from the fur pulling on the affected areas.
What Causes Cat Fur Clumping/Matting?
Cats are some of the world’s top natural groomers. Being animals that obsess over cleanliness, cats will spend the day licking their fur with their barbed tongues. These tongues function as combs and when a cat is properly taking care of themselves, their entire body should be soft and clean most of the time.
The constant licking of the fur stimulates the sebaceous glands in their skin, releasing oil into the fur to help lubricate it and keep it soft. When these glands aren’t stimulated, it becomes easier for the strands of fur to group together and get stuck in clumps.
Over time, things can change in your cat which can cause matting to occur. Sometimes weight gain can make it hard for your cat to reach certain areas on their backs, leaving those spots to dry up and clump up. Long-haired cats can become overwhelmed by their own fur if their owners do not brush it often enough. This can result in quite serious matting and a trip to the vet/professional groomers.
Please note that if your cat has stopped grooming altogether, this is not normal behaviour for them and you should contact your vet.
How to Remove the Matting from Your Cat’s Fur
There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the best ways is to distract and reward. Grab a pair of scissors with blunt tips but be sure they are sharp (you don’t want to be stuck cutting over and over on the same spot, this will stress out your cat), some treats, a cat brush, and some suggest using cornstarch or talcum, but that isn’t always necessary.
To recap, you will need:
- Blunt-tipped scissors
- Cat treats
- Cat brush
- Cornstarch/Talcum (Optional)
Step #1: Choose Your Moment
Do not attempt to cut clumping/matting out of your cat’s fur when they are not in a calm state of mind. A calm cat is more likely to go with the flow and not lash out when trying something new and invasive (such as cutting off matted fur).
Step #2: Prepare the Clumping/Matting
How bad are the clumps? Are there many of them? Only a few? Is your cat a long-hair or a short-hair? Will this be a difficult job or just a quick one? For a quick job, you can get away without using talcum or cornstarch. One or two small clumps on a short-haired cat are not as big a deal as several clumps on a long-haired cat.
For a short-haired cat, feel the clump a few times, get the cat used to you touching that area, and prepare yourself mentally for how you are going to snip it out when the moment is right.
For a long-haired or seriously matted cat, this is where you would add the talcum or cornstarch. Gently rub it into the fur and onto the matted areas. Be gentle here as the matting can be quite painful.
Step #3: Get the Treats Ready
Treats play a big role in this process. Some cats might not even blink at snipping out their clumps, but most will need treats.
Some cats are more docile than others, and with those, you might be able to get away with snipping and then rewarding with treats. For the cats who like to move around or don’t trust the process yet, put a small pile of treats on the ground and let them saddle up to eat a few. Then, cut out the matting while they are enjoying the food.
Step #4: Comb out the Mat
Once you have cut out the majority of the clump, gently comb the area with a cat brush to smooth out any leftover pieces of the matting. Sometimes it can be hard to get it all out, but with the majority removed, you might be able to comb out the rest. The keyword here is gentle. The cat is likely already sensitive in the spot where you just removed the clumping, and without any fur to cover it, you may be brushing onto skin in some areas.
After removing the matting from your cat’s fur, your thoughts may turn to prevention. How do you stop this from happening again? Regardless of your cat’s fur length, daily combing or at least a weekly deep comb is important for maintaining a healthy coat. As mentioned earlier in this article, the most important part of maintaining healthy cat fur is the stimulation of the sebaceous glands. If your cat is unable to stimulate these glands, you need to help them do so.
Some cats also see positive changes in their ability to maintain their fur without clumping/matting after weight loss. This can be brought on by a change in diet or increased exercise. For more information on how to help your cat healthily lose weight, talk to your vet.