It does not take long for new cat owners to discover their pets spending a sizeable portion of their waking hours grooming themselves. If your cat is not sleeping, eating, or playing, it is most likely that he is grooming himself. Cats do not groom themselves out of sheer vanity. No. Cats are fastidious creatures for a reason. Self-grooming is critical for a few reasons.
Cats are well-equipped to groom and clean themselves. For starters, their tongues contain papillae or backward-facing barbs. These small barbs help a cat remove dirt, dead hair, and even fleas off a cat’s fur and skin.
Furthermore, the papillae also help promote circulation and stimulate the release of oils from the sebaceous glands found beneath the skin. These oils help lubricate the fur, keeping it clean and shiny.
Additionally, cats are flexible. This makes them more than capable of reaching most of their body parts.
But despite your cat’s best efforts, you cannot rely on him completely to clean and groom himself. Otherwise, this could lead to problems, like matted fur.
Matting of fur typically occurs around the chest and neck, legs, and under a cat’s tail. The condition requires immediate attention. Otherwise, your pet’s comfort and mobility can be compromised. Furthermore, it can even lead to infections.
What causes matting of cat fur near the tail?
Matted fur can arise due to a few reasons. Theoretically, most cats can succumb to matted fur. However, the most susceptible are long-haired breeds and elderly cats.
Sometimes, dead hair from a long-hair cat gets trapped and tangled with live hair, especially during the shedding season. Over time, the mat becomes tighter as dirt and oils get mixed in the mat.
Matted fur can also develop in body parts like the bottom of the tail and around the legs. When these body parts rub against each other, hair tangles can form and eventually develop into mats.
For long-haired cats, mats develop because they cannot cope with the volume of hair that they need to groom and clean, leaving some of their body parts vulnerable to matting.
Senior cats are also prone to matting because they lack the initiative to groom and clean themselves. And if they have mobility issues, they might not be able to reach certain body parts.
Why you should not ignore matter fur
When a cat’s fur becomes matted, he will initially show signs of irritation. But left unchecked, matted fur can lead to discomfort and health issues.
After some time, the mats compress and become tighter. This can cause the cat’s skin to become hot and itchy, further causing discomfort to a pet. When this happens, the cat may have a difficult time moving. Furthermore, the skin beneath the matter fur becomes dry and flaky. Eventually, the condition can progress to the point where the skin becomes inflamed, making a cat vulnerable to infection. This is particularly true if the matting occurs in the hind legs because dirt and fecal matter can get trapped in that area.
The problem lies in the fact that cats do their best to hide pain and discomfort from their humans. Often, people notice that their pets are in trouble when a problem has progressed to an advanced stage.
What should you do if your cat’s fur is matted?
If you notice that your cat has matted fur, the worst thing that you can do is to bathe him in an attempt to loosen the tangled hair. This will only make matters worse for you and your cat. When you add moisture to the equation, the matted fur compresses further, making it more difficult to remove. Furthermore, moisture can get trapped beneath the fur.
If your cat has short to medium length hair, it is possible that he can get matted fur, but rarely. In case the short haired cat does get matter fur, the matting may not be as severe as that in a long-haired cat breed.
You can attempt to pry loose the matted fur using your fingers or a detangler which veterinarians use. Alternatively, you can use a comb with fine teeth.
Start by holding the matted fur firmly at the base. This will prevent your cat from experiencing discomfort as you attempt to loosen the matted fur. You can even apply a small amount of conditioner on the tangled hairs to make it easier for you and your cat. As you comb the matted fur, offer your cat treats and words of praise to help keep him calm.
Be sure to observe your cat’s behavior. If your cat is in obvious pain or discomfort, it may be better to leave the job to an expert.
On the other hand, if you have a long-haired cat and the matting has become severe, the best option for you is to bring your pet to the vet or a professional groomer. These professionals will cut the matted cat fur.
Do not attempt to trim the matted fur by yourself. One wrong move can lead to cuts and pain for your cat. Additionally, you might have a hard time doing this task as your pet becomes distressed.
How to prevent matted cat fur
As with most things, prevention is always better than a cure. If you want to avoid the hassles associated with matted fur, here are a few helpful tips.
1. Make grooming a habit
Although cats are terrific self-groomers, you should not rely on your pet to groom and clean himself. Instead, you should make regular brushing and combing a habit, especially if your pet has long hair. Not only will this prevent problems related to fur. More importantly, this will reinforce the bond between you and your beloved feline.
As much as possible, start grooming your pet at the time you get him home, or at the very least, when he becomes settled. It will be easier for you to regularly groom your pet if he becomes accustomed to it at a young age. And although your new pet may be averse to the idea, eventually, he will learn to enjoy regular brushing and combing.
Ideally, you should brush and comb your cat’s fur daily instead of intermittently. If this is not possible, try to groom your pet at least once or twice weekly.
2. Consider hiring a professional
If you are too busy at work and you cannot carve out time to groom your pet, consider taking your cat to a professional groomer. This also works if your cat is too much for you to handle at home.
3. Pay attention to nutrition
Sometimes, grooming is not enough to prevent fur-related issues. If you notice that the quality of your cat’s fur is far from good, his current diet may be the culprit. Ask your vet about switching to another brand of cat food. Your vet may recommend a brand that contains nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E which improve the quality of a cat’s coat. You can also get Omega-3 for cats as a supplement.
4. Get your cat checked by the vet
If you notice that your cat has not been grooming himself as often as he used to, the vet can identify the underlying cause. Cats stop grooming themselves for a variety of reasons, including age, illness, and obesity. Solving these underlying problems can help prevent matting.
Matted cat fur is a serious matter
Matted fur can be avoided by grooming your cat regularly. But sometimes, things can get in the way and prevent you from performing this essential task. If you notice that your cat has matted fur, acting fast is the best way to prevent the situation getting worse.
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