How to Remove, Help, and Avoid Mats in Cats

Whether your family member is a short, or long-haired feline, they can have mats in their hair. You can make a big difference in your cat’s life by avoiding this problem. There are now many ways to avoid these mats, as well as remove them and help your family cat avoid them. Research shows they are not just a problem in the fur but can be very unhealthy for your loved, feline friends.  

the, The perspective of a vet regarding the health problems stemming from mats is key. It is essential for a cat to be brushed daily, or weekly by their cat owner.  Once mats are in the fur, there is a myriad of ways to remove them. One way is through various products including the Four Paws Ultimate Touch Professional Dog Grooming Mat Removing Comb.

Apart from purchasing helpful products, there are many DIY ways to help a cat with mats. Finally, a dedicated pet owner needs to be honest and know when to seek help. Seriously matted cats might need to go to their vet. We’ll look in-depth at all these factors so that you can be the mat expert for your feline family members.

Vet Advice About Mats

How They are Formed

The majority of cat breeds have two coats. The softer inner coat that keeps them warm and the coarse overcoat that protects the inner coat. The inner coat is the one that sheds in the spring and fall (seasonal changes). These semi-annual sheds happen in felines who go outside. Indoor cats shed year round.  When the inner coat begins to shed, if that fur is not brushed off, it can form a mat with the outer fur. The outer coat sheds as well.

Sometimes, the cat will be grooming and cause the shedding fur and fur on their body,  to get stuck together. Whether an indoor, or outdoor feline, if anything sticky gets into the fur, that can also tangle it into a mat. Dirt on the ground, mixed with shedding fur can also exacerbate this problem. A major culprit of mats, as cat owners know, is when the kitty litter mixes with your cat’s rear end.

Where Mats are Found on a Cat’s Body

When you pet your cat, anyone who has felt a mat knows they can form behind your feline’s ears, or around their neck, but there are other common places to check.

Turn your cat over and check under their arms, and their groin. Watch as they walk away and see if there are any mats at the rear. If there is a lot of litter on their rear as they walk away from the litter box, it can be a good indicator of this problem. Also, feel their legs, as mats often form near the top.

The Danger of Mats for Cats

Our feline family members cannot tell us when they are hurting. Loving cat owners can notice the mood or energy level of their pet. You must pay attention to a cat with mats, as these fur problems can go from just being an inconvenience in their fur to a medical emergency. These are some of the reasons cats get mats in their fur:

The dangers of mats for cats include:

  • Discomfort when finding a position to rest, or sleep.

  • Pruritus.

  • Soreness on the skin, lesions.

  • A potential nesting place for fleas and ticks.

  • Anxiety, which can include excessive grooming.

  • Inflammation.

  • Extensive pain.

  • Infection.

  • The possibility of hairballs that can lead to intestinal blockages.

How to Avoid Mats


Cat owners need to watch that their feline companion is grooming themselves properly. Younger cats should have no problem with grooming themselves.

When your cat companion moves into their senior years, watch for areas that seem a bit dull on their coat. They might not be able to reach them anymore and that can be a problem area for matting. Owners can gently pull at the hair/fur in those dull places and it might come right out. That will be greatly appreciated by your older cat friend.

If your cat is long haired, it is recommended on many sites that you brush them daily. If a short-haired cat, they need to be brushed once a week. This is a powerful combination to avoid mats in cats.  

How to Get Your Cat Accustomed to Brushing

If your family cat arrived as a kitten - great! This is the best time to get your feline friend used to getting brushed and combed. Let them see and smell the brush and then give them a few gentle brushes. Repeat this process often.  Always brush and comb them in the same direction as the fur grows. Soon your little kitten addition will get used to being groomed.

If you adopt an older cat who is not used to being brushed, the process will take more time. Get to know your cat and when they are normally in their quiet and content modes. A recommendation about timing is after the cat has eaten.

Start with a soft brush and a few moments of grooming. Brushing your cat might take a few sessions each day as you take care of different places on the cat’s body, but that is fine. Move to a comb at the end if they allow you to, for a full grooming of the shedding hair.

If there are real problems calming your cat down enough to be groomed, try using the same holding method as the cat’s mom. She would grab the cat by the scruff of the neck at the back. Your cat will remember this method of being held and a bit of grooming might then be possible. Use your strongest hand to brush the cat and your weakest hand to hold the scruff of their neck. This will make sure the cat cannot spit, or bite you.  If the job cannot be effectively done at home, consider going to a groomer, or your vet.

No matter what works, always have some treats nearby to reward your cat. Purchasing calming treats could help those cats enjoy the grooming ritual. One of our favorites is the Tomlyn Relax and Calm Chews for Cats and Small Dogs

Never Use These  for Getting Rid of Mats

There are two items that should not be used when attempting to get mats out of a cat. Unless you are a professional groomer, do not use a clipper that has been manufactured for professionals.

An everyday pair of scissors can also be extremely dangerous if trying to de-mat your cat. Scissors should never be used close to the body of your cat for any reason.

Why are these devices so dangerous for getting mats out of cats? The skin of a cat is quite thin. Many vets have had to deal with injuries to felines due to their owners attempting to cut out a mat. Instead, they have cut into the cat’s actual skin.

This injury would require an immediate trip to the vet’s office to be stitched up. Professional clippers are more powerful than the ones sold on the market for pet owners. For this reason, they can cut the cat if being used by someone without proper training.

For the safety and care of your feline companion, do not use these products.  Groom your cat with love, caring and products, or DIY methods recommended for the pet owner.

DIY Dematting

If your cat has a small mat, try brushing or combing it out. After the mat comes out, remember to keep brushing that area often when grooming your cat, to make sure it does not return.  A helpful article that offers advice on some DIY methods can be found here.

For medium mats, unless very experienced, bring your cat to the groomer. For a lot of mats or large mats, please take your cat to the vet.

Using your Fingers

When using your fingers, start by putting either powdered cornstarch or talcum powder into the matted fur. Next, work the powder into the mat, loosening the fur as much as possible. Finally using a comb, finish removing the matted fur. If this does not do the trick, there are other options to help your feline.

Olive Oil/Coconut Oil

There are many articles and videos that explain using olive oil, or coconut oil to loosen the mat. You do not use a lot of the oil and some sites recommend getting the oil in a spray can form.

Sometimes just putting the oil in and working it through with your fingers can do the trick. If not, after putting in the oil, use a brush or comb to work it out. The following video shows how to do it and when the mat is too big for this method. click here.

Dehumidifiers and Diet

There are ways to help your family feline avoid mats apart from weekly, or daily grooming. Take a look at what you are feeding your cat. Research suggests that a completely dry food diet can cause more possibility of mats. No matter what you feed your family pet, some suggest making sure you have a higher oil content in it. You can also add fish oil capsules into the food to help.

Another option is to have a dehumidifier in the house, so there is less static in the air. Less static means fewer problems in grooming your friend and will reduce the chance of shocking the cat when grooming.

Going to the Groomer

This is the opportunity for you to give your feline family member a potential spa day. If you have a really busy schedule, or your cat has a lot of matted fur but does not have skin lesions, or infection, the groomers might be your best choice.

There are many groomers in most areas. Start by asking your vet who they recommend. Do not forget to also use your fellow cat owners and friends as a resource for this research. They can offer the good, bad and ugly reviews of local groomers better than anyone.

Products to Help Remove Mats

There are so many options for combs and brushes that it would require an entire article for full information. You are the owner of your family cat and will know what works best on them. It can be as simple as a regular comb and brush. If your pet is really matted though, there are many more helpful products on the market. Many can be purchased through Amazon.

One highly recommended one is the: GoPets Dematting Comb with 2 Sided Professional Grooming Rake for Cats & Dogs. This product sells for $25, or lower in the US.

To view this product click this link.

The top price of a grooming product is the full professional  Dog/Cat/Horse Clipper kit and it costs $55, but all other products are much less expensive.

To see the product click here.

When to go to the Vet

How Severe are Your Cat’s Mats?

If your cat is suffering from small mats that you can work out with the methods listed above, there is no need to take your cat to the vet. However, if you can see lesions on your cat, or their skin looks infected around the matted area, see the vet. Any feline who has quite a number of small mats close to the skin would also benefit from a trip to their doctor.

Depending on the severity, the vet might have to sedate your cat to safely shave off the matted areas. Sometimes mats are so severe that the entire cat needs to be shaved.

You might not want to have a Sphynx breed cat, but shaving might be necessary to take care of this dangerously unhealthy condition. Your vet will do the de-matting safely, carefully, and completely.

If your cat ever needs this kind of acute treatment for mats, you can start from scratch with how to brush your cat daily, or weekly. You will be able to make sure that with your care and special attention to your family member’s coat, this never happens again.   This protection would cover an indoor, or outdoor pet. You will be able to recognize the signs that mat trouble might be ahead.


Our lives are busy, but our families are important. Your family cat provides someone to greet you, love you, and make no judgments.

What they ask in return is so little: love them, feed them and care for them. Matted hair can be a minor, quick-fix problem, but can also become quite dangerous for your pet if not looked after. With the guidelines above, you now have all the information you need to make sure mats in cats will not be a major concern. Your family feline will be “purr-fectly” grateful for your caring and expertise.