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A mat is a tangled clump of hair that can form in quickly in a cat's coat. Mats include the longer, outer hair of the cat, as well as the soft undercoat, forming very close to the skin. Mats cause pain and discomfort to cats as they pull the hair every time the animal moves. The skin of matted cats will be especially sensitive because the mats sit right against the body and irritate the skin. Mats are an especially tricky grooming issue to deal with as they can be widespread and occur frequently.
Formation of Mats
Matted hair forms when the coat is not properly taken care of. Mats can be a very uncomfortable problem for a cat and make it irritable. Matted hair will appear as a large, solid lump of fur that seems to be stuck to the skin. Mats are tightly tangled masses of hair, making them extremely tough to comb through. The knots continue to form on top of each other, incorporating more hair until an entire section of fur is one large tangled mass. Wet hair also mats much faster than dry hair, so a cat that is outdoors in the elements will have more mats than an indoor cat. Longhair cats will also accumulate more mats in general than shorter-haired breeds. Cat hair is prone to mats due to its fine texture, and the fact that most cats are very rarely groomed. Mats will develop in a cat's fur if the cat is not brushed frequently, or if the brushing is not complete.
Caring for Mats
Eliminating the mats from a cat's coat can be a time-consuming process. Cats normally do not liked to be groomed, so keeping a cat clean and well-brushed can be tough. A cat needs to be brushed every few days to keep the coat mat-free. Hold the cat gently in your hands and begin brushing his coat with a stiff brush. Offer it a few treats to help keep it calm while you remove the mats. Use your fingers to try and separate the mats, loosening them. Do not brush over the top of the mats, as this will only tangle them more. You can trim the hair around the edge of the mat with a small pair of scissors, if necessary. Take care with trimming to avoid cutting the cat's skin. If the cat is excessively matted, a pair of clippers can be used to shave the cat down. Shaving a cat is a last resort if the mats can't be combed out. Frequent grooming will help to avoid future mats in your cat's coat.
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