How to Get Rid of Matted Cat Fur

Most cats usually do a fairly good job of keeping their coats clean, however, sometimes need your help since a cat can’t get rid of matted fur. Below is a step by step guide on how t o get rid of matted cat fur.

It is important that you inspect for cat mats when you are brushing your cat. Once you notice tangles beginning or find a matted area on your cat’s body, you want to take action to remove the mats.

Why Does My Cat Have Matted Hair

Matted hair is caused by a few things. Long-haired cats and older cats tend to have more mats than short-haired cats, but really any cat can have them. The undercoat plays a big part in why cats get mats. If fur can not shed from the undercoat, the dead loose hairs starts to create tangled fur and clump together forming matted sections of hair.

What are the Causes?

  • Fur your cat is shedding gets tangled and/or stuck in the undercoat
  • Dirt, cat litter or debris is stuck in your cats fur and as it sheds, the dead hair is getting tangled up with the debris
  • Cats not able to groom (this can especially happen with older and overweight cats that lose the flexibility for self-grooming their entire body)
  • Excess body oil / secretions keeping dead hair stuck in the fur
  • Some breeds are more susceptible to developing mats such as Persians, Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Himalayans, Russian Blues and other breeds with long hair

What Does It Mean to De-Mat a Cat

De-matting a cat is the process of removing mats out of cat by working through tangles. You may be able to work out small areas just beginning to mat with your fingers. For larger more formed areas, you would de-mat with a comb, use a brush or dematting tool which gets under the matted area and releases it from the fur, or shaving them if are severe and close to the skin preventing you from being able to work them out.

cat having matted hair removed

What You Need to Remove Matted Fur

Some matted fur can be removed better with one tool or the over, so it is best if you have a few options. Small tangles and matted areas may easier come out with a brush or Furminator Dematting tool, but it is possible you may need a comb to help work through the matted areas.

  • Standard Wide Tooth comb
  • Anti-static detangler spray or dematter spray
  • Furminator Dematting tool or Slicker brush
  • Treats

Furminator Dematter

  • Works on cats & dogs
  • For long-haired cats to prevent mats
  • Best tool for gently removing tangles
  • Easily removes mats
  • FURminator brand
  • Stainless steel curved edge
  • Ergonomic handle to grip well
  • Removes mats & tangles safely

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

How to Remove Matted Cat Hair

Put your cat on a firm surface and if possible have an assistant.

  1. Locate matted areas either by sight or running your fingers through your cat’s coat
  2. For small tangles, gently use your fingers to pull the fur apart by holding down the base of the mat to avoid pulling the skin while you pull apart the fur
  3. For larger or tightly knotted mats, use either a metal wide tooth comb or a dematting tool
    • Comb – either comb thru the area or use the comb like a pick to gently work the it apart while continuing to hold the base of mat down to avoid tugging on your cat’s skin
    • Dematting Tool – run the tool under the matted area to comb up and release the mat, while pressing down the skin around the area to avoid pulling the skin up. You can also use the dematting tool to shave at the section to help break it up
  4. As needed, use anti-static detangler or dematter spray if the fur is getting staticky and to help soften the matted area
  5. Stop de-matting and praise/pet your cat in a soothing voice. You can give reward treats if they will eat them, but your cat may not want a treat if they are getting irritated.
  6. Continue the above steps until all mats are gone. If the cat is getting fidgety, call it a day and try another time.
  7. Reward your cat with treats when the de-matting session is done.

Helpful Tips When Removing Mats

  • Plan multiple sessions
  • Use a dematter spray for cats to help soften mats (don’t bathe a cat with mats or use water, it will make it worse)
  • Select a time when your cat is calm and relaxed
  • Don’t try to de-mat your cat after a play session where the cat is running, jumping and excited
  • Choose a quiet location away from other animals
  • Don’t force your cat to stay if you can see they are visibly upset or getting agitated
  • Speak calmly to your cat and reward with treats
  • If possible, have someone help you who can hold and/or distract your cat

Do’s & Don’t’s When Dematting Your Cat

Review the list of items you should and should not do when removing matted hair on a cat. Also check out the FAQ’s section which has a lot of useful information.

  • Invest in good grooming tools to remove mats. You only have to buy them once if you get good quality supplies.
  • Go slowly and be patient
  • Stop if you cat starts meowing painful or trembling, and give your cat a break for now
  • Make a habit of brushing and combing regularly to keep mats under control
  • A dematting spray or cat detangler/conditioner spray can help loosen tangles
  • Don’t try to get all the mats out in one sitting if your cat has multiple areas
  • Don’t put baby oil or baby powder on cat mats
  • Don’t sedate your cat at home
  • Don’t force the comb or grooming tool if it is not going thru the fur
  • Don’t pull hard on the comb causing it to pull your cat’s skin
  • Don’t bathe a cat with mats, water will make it worse (opt for a dematter or detangler spray instead)
  • Do not use Baby Oil

How to Prevent My Cat’s Coat From Getting Matted Fur

The best prevention is keeping your cat groomed, whether you do it or you hire someone. If the reason is due to being overweight and inability to groom itself, then you may want to adjust their diet and play with your cat for exercise.

Regular Brushing

The best prevention method is regular brushing. Although cats do have times when they shed more, you shouldn’t wait until the shedding seasons to brush your cat. Get in the habit of brushing your cat every few days or on at least a weekly basis. It is especially crucial to maintain a brushing scheduling if you have a long-haired breed or know your cat is prone to matting fur.

Professional Cat Groomer

For cats prone to matted hair, you can opt to set up regular appointments at a pet salon or have a mobile cat groomer come to your house. Grooming by a professional pet stylist can help keep the undercoat thinned out to help prevent it from developing matted pelts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cat’s fur suddenly matted?

Mats form when your cat is shedding its undercoat, the loose hair can get stuck in the top coat and become knotted. Cats tend to get mats in the areas involving movement such as near its neck, tail, under legs, on the chest and belly. These areas can get larger and much worse if you aren’t regularly removing mats.

Can you cut off matted fur?

No, you should never cut it. Mats can be very close to the skin. Cats have very delicate skin and will bleed if cut, cause your cat a lot of pain, and your cat may need stitches.

How do I get mats out of my cat’s fur?

You can use a wide tooth cat comb or dematting tool for mat removal. Learn more about how to get mats out of cat fur following the steps in the above article.

How much does it cost to demat a cat?

A professional groomer on average charge $50, however rates can vary between $25 – $70 depending on where you are located.

How do you shave a matted cat at home?

If using a comb or dematting tool don’t work because your cat has severely matted areas, check out this post on how to shave a matted cat at home.

Do mats hurt cats?

Matted fur can become painful if it is not taken care of because mats can irritate your cat’s skin. The mat prevents airflow and oxygen from reaching the skin and can cause infections and skin irritation.

Can you brush out matted cat fur?

You can brush out some mats using a wide toothed comb, razor comb or a dematting tool. If the mats are too tight it may be more difficult to brush them out.

How do you detangle severely matted cat hair?

You can try using a wide tooth comb, mat comb, or dematting tool. You can also try to work the mats out by gently pulling it apart with your fingers. It may take several dematting sessions to get all the mats out. You can also seek professional help if you cat has many large mats forming close to the skin.

What can I put on my cats matted fur?

You can purchase a cat dematter spray at a pet store or online retailer. Other natural options are cold-pressed coconut oil or olive oil to help make fur soft. Do Not Use Baby Oil.

How do you soften matted cat hair?

There are dematter sprays or detangler conditioners specifically formulated for cats. Check at your local pet store or a reputable online pet site. Other options are edible oils such as cold press coconut oil or olive oil. Do not use baby oil.

Can I use Baby Oil to remove matted cat hair?

No, you should not use Baby Oil. Even though there are articles suggesting baby oil to soften mats, it is not recommended. Baby oil has chemicals in it and not safe for cats. Cats lick their fur and can ingest it which can cause health problems.