Matted Fur Clumps
Matted fur can happen to cats with all lengths of hair. The problem tends to be more common in older or overweight cats who either can't groom themselves anymore, or who can't reach parts of their body like the back.
What Are Matted Fur Clumps
The clumps are basically tangled hair. The hair gets so knotted and tangled up that it becomes a hard bunch of hair. The matted clumps can vary in size from barely noticeable to very large clumps. Often it looks as though the hair has been glued together.
Skin flakes, dead fur, dust and skin oils cause matting. When the cat isn't able to properly clean his fur, all this dirt builds up and causes the fur to stick together.
Matted fur clumps need to be removed because they're extremely uncomfortable for the cat. They pull on the skin and can cause quite a bit of pain. They also restrict air flow making the skin itchy underneath the clump. Sometimes skin infections can start under the clumps because of the air flow restriction.
Remove the Matted Hair
Loose mats are the easiest to remove. If possible, try to treat matts as soon as you see them. Rub some talc-free baby powder gently into the mat. Your cat may not like this and you may need an assistant to hold the cat while you do this. Thoroughly rub the powder into the tangle. It lubricates the fur and can make it easier to remove. Use a steel-toothed comb to remove the tangles. The combs with rotating teeth tend to work better at removing fur and getting through minor matts.
Don't get the fur wet. While it may initially seem like a good idea to use liquid (oil) or water to loosen the matted hair, it actually makes the mats tighter and more difficult to remove.
Tight matts, the kid that feel like little rocks, are impossible to remove by brushing. It doesn't matter how much baby powder is used, the knots will not loosen. The only way to treat tightly matted hair is to cut them off with scissors. This is best done by a veterinarian or a professional groomer because they have the skills and experience to remove the hair clump without cutting the skin.
You can also cut off the matts with scissors if you're very careful. The clumps can be very close to the skin and it's easy to cut too far and cut into the skin. The safest way to go about removing clumps on your own is to use sharp scissors to cut the clump in half. Continue removing a little more of the clump every week as the fur grows.
Overweight cats simply can't reach certain parts of their bodies. A weight-loss diet may be a good idea if your cat is overweight and suffering from matted hair. Consider consulting a vet before making any drastic diet changes.
Older cats may not be able to groom themselves because they're suffering from arthritis. Arthritis can make it painful for your cat to move and limit her range of motion. Check with your vet about pain relievers for arthritic cats. Cosequin, for example, has been known to slow the progression of arthritis in cats and even reverse it. The supplement is available at pet stores, is safe for all cats, and doesn't require a prescription.
Daily brushing with a steel-toothed comb will also prevent clumps.