How to Get Mats Out of Cat Hair

Cat with matted fur

Tangled hair is never fun, so you can imagine how terrible it can be when a fur-coated cat gets one.

Ideally, cats are known for being top-notch at taking care of their fur, as they constantly groom it with their tongue to detangle the hairs and stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce oil and moisturize the hairs.

Despite their abilities, sometimes, things can get out of hand, and they might require your help to detangle their fur coat.

If you want to know how to get mats out of cat hair, we’ve got you covered. In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide to remove these mats efficiently. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

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Why Do Cats Get Matted Fur

As previously mentioned, cats generally know their way around a fur coat and they typically take good care of themselves when it comes to detangling. However, some situations can cause a cat to get matted fur, such as:

  • Built-Up Dust and friction: Dust creates static charges that cause the hairs to tangle. When it builds up faster than the cat’s ability to groom itself, mats will occur. Similarly, the friction of the body against itself will cause static charges too.
  • Physical limitation: When cats are too old or overweight, it becomes harder for them to reach certain areas for grooming, which causes tangles and mats.
  • Health issues: Some cats respond to not feeling well by skipping the daily grooming, which results in severe matting. If you notice that the majority of the cat’s coat is matted, you should consult a vet immediately because it’s a sign of an underlying medical issue.
  • Dental problems: Cats use their mouth to groom themselves, so they would stop detangling the hairs if they’re suffering from toothaches or tongue ulcers.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Cat-Matted Fur

In the following guide, we’ll walk you through the full process of getting mats out of cats’ hair. The process includes different methods to remove mats that are arranged ascendingly according to difficulty.

Therefore, make sure to try each technique before you advance to the more complicated one. Let’s check it out:

Step 1: Choose the Right Time to Approach the Problem

Untangling fur and removing mats isn’t a simple job and it might take some time. It can also be quite painful for some cats.

That’s why you have to choose the right time to approach your cat for detangling instead of forcing or scaring the cat, making the process too unpleasant for both of you.

The ideal time for the hair removal process is usually after a meal. At this time, the cat is usually most comfortable and will accept the grooming without scratching or clawing.

Some experts might also suggest throwing in some catnip to help your cat stay calm during the process. Treats can also encourage your cat to stay put while you’re detangling the fur.

Of course, different cats will respond differently to grooming and mat removal. For example, a cat that is used to grooming since its kitten years will be more accepting of the process than a recently adopted adult.

So, you need to have a good understanding of your cat before attempting to get the job done.

Step 2: Gather Your Equipment and Tools

Now that you’ve settled on the most suitable time to do the job, you need to fully prepare yourself for it with all the tools and equipment necessary to get it done.

One of the keys to successful grooming and detangling sessions is to keep it short. Going back and forth to gather your combs and clippers during the session will make your cat more likely to get nervous and start scratching.

To help you make sure that everything is there, here’s a list of all the items and equipment you’ll need while detangling your cat’s hair:

There are also some tools that we don’t recommend using unless you know your way around them, such as Blunt end scissors for grooming and electric razors.

Step 3: Inspect The Coat and Find the Mats

It’s essential that you give your cat a quick check to find all the mats and assess their difficulty before detangling or removing them.

As previously mentioned, there are some spots that are more likely to get matted and tangled than others, so you have to check these parts first. These areas include: around the groin and between the legs, around the collar, and behind the ears.

Step 4: Prepare the Matted Spots

Before attempting to detangle the fur with any methods, you need to prepare them to come off easily.

Some people might think of adding water to loosen up the hairs. However, water will only end up making the knots and mats even tighter and more difficult to deal with.

Instead, you need to keep the hairs as dry as possible to make them easier to manage. For example, you can sprinkle some cornstarch over the matted area to absorb the moisture and make the hairs more pliable and easier to deal with.

Talcum powder can also work but make sure that you use pet-friendly products to avoid any unwanted skin reactions to the formula.

Pet groomers usually use specialized anti-static sprays and detangling formulas. However, these products are difficult to find and you can still get the job done without them.

The best alternative here is using natural pet detangling sprays, which are specifically designed to help pet owners with frequent mats.

Regardless of the detangling agent you’ll use, make sure to work it around gently so you don’t hurt your cat.

Step 5: Use Your Fingers to Remove the Mats

After applying the detangling formula of choice to the knotted hairs, you’ll need to start loosening out the hairs. The best thing to do here is to use your fingers, as they’re accurate and less intimidating to your cat.

Of course, your hands are only good for simple knots only, so don’t try to detangle complicated knots with them. Start with the smaller knots and break them off slowly and gently so it’s not painful to your cat.

As you finish smaller mats, head towards larger ones and try to separate them into smaller bits, then detangle them just like the simple ones.

If the cats start resisting or show signs of distress, avoid forcing your fingers in and try to calm your cat down by petting your cat and giving them some treats until they’re calm again.

Step 6: Advance to Specialized Mats Removing Items

If the cat has a tightly knotted mat that you can’t work out with your fingers, it’s time to use a more specialized item for the process. Start with a detangling brush or pet comb, especially with the wide-toothed region.

To avoid hurting and tugging on the cat’s skin, hold the tangler fur from the base closest to the skin with your free hand.

Using the comb or brush, make short, gentle, and quick brushes that move away from the skin. At first, start with the tips of the matter and get deeper towards the roots as you break it off.

Once again, if you start forcing the brush through stuck hair or tugging on the skin, the cat will scratch you and run away, so make sure that you’re as gentle as you can be during this step.

For cats with thick undercoats, you might need a specialized comb with two sets of teeth to make things easier for both of you.

Specialized de-matting brushes can also be a great help in this situation because they’re designed to remove the mats without cutting the skin below. As always, rewarding your cat with some treats will encourage them to stay still and patient.

Step 7: Cut the Matts Off

Ideally, we don’t recommend that you attempt doing this step yourself if you don’t have enough experience with cat grooming. There are two different ways to cut off mats, either by using electric razors or scissors.

As suggested above, make sure that you use pet-friendly electric razors because they’re designed to be quieter, so they don’t spook your cat. Also, they don’t produce a lot of heat, since thin cats’ skin is quite sensitive to the heat.

Always skim the surface with the clippers to make sure that you don’t hurt your cat. Remember to eject the clipped hair regularly so it doesn’t jam or yank the skin.

As for the scissors, make sure that they’re blunt-nosed so they don’t stab into the skin. Start trimming off the coat from the surface and make sure that you don’t pull on the hair while cutting.

As the clumped mats start to loosen up, you’ll be able to break them off and do the rest of the job with your fingers.

Step 8: Comb the Hairs

Now that the mats are broken off, it should be quite easy for you to remove them from the cat’s fur. This step is similar to step 6, as you’ll use the brushes again to remove the remaining hairs

When to Leave the Job for a Professional?

You can leave the whole job for a professional pet groomer if you don’t want to risk hurting your cat, especially if they have major matting problems. However, for very minor mats, you can simply do it yourself with a grooming brush.

Also, if you’ve noticed any inflammation or injury due to matting, don’t try to remove or break the hair. Instead, contact your cat’s vet immediately or let a professional handle the process.

How to Prevent Cats from Getting Mats in the First Place?

The best preventive measure for matting is consistent grooming and brushing. Here are some extra tips to avoid the problem in the future:

  • Avoid bathing the cats frequently
  • Inspect the fur coat for minor tangles before they develop into something serious
  • Apply leave-in cat conditioners to keep the hair slippery and loose

Final Thoughts

With that said, you now know how to get mats out of cat hair efficiently and painlessly. As you can see, the process is pretty easy and you can pull it off for the most part.

However, if you find the job tricky or you’ve come across serious tangling, we strongly recommend that you leave the job to a professional groomer, as they know their way around cats’ fur and won’t injure your cat while removing these stubborn mats.