Dematting is an important part of caring for your cat because mats can pull or tug at your cat's sensitive skin. Mats occur naturally as a cat's fur tangles together, though longhair cats are far more prone to developing mats. Regular grooming with dematting tools is the easiest way to detangle and avoid these mats in the future. Alternatively, some owners shave areas of their cat's body to prevent mats from forming altogether. Regardless of method, always take your time and be gentle when grooming your cat.
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A dematting comb is most useful on looser mats, as the metal bristles can get caught in tighter mats and injure your cat's skin. The long bristles of a dematting comb are particularly useful for longer-haired cats. Groom your cat at least once a day using this tool to interrupt mats from forming. For a small or loose mat, pinch the length of the bottom of the mat with your fingers. Hold the mat in one hand and use the dematting comb with the other, slowly working from the tips of the fur to the centre of the mat.
A slicker brush is an effective tool to eradicate tighter and larger mats. When a mat is too tight for the dematting comb, use your slicker brush in the same fashion: Hold the bottom of the mat still to avoid irritating the skin, then slowly comb from the tips of the fur inward. Using a slicker brush can often loosen a mat enough that it can then be untangled with a dematting comb. A slicker brush is also helpful to smooth your cat's fur after you are through grooming.
Bristle brushes can be bought in a variety of types and lengths and can be appropriate for both long- and short-haired cats, depending on size. The longer the cat hair you are trying to groom, the wider the spaces between the bristles should be. Use this brush as an overall grooming brush and to gently break up smaller mats. Bristle brushes are also effective in collecting loose hair, which can help reduce hairballs.
If your cat has a mat too tightly tangled or too large to take care of with a comb or brush, consider using animal clippers. Many longhair cats are frequently shaved to avoid mats altogether and to keep them more comfortable in the hot summer months. The most common cut for cats is known as the lion cut. Use the clippers to shave downward from the base of your cat's neck. Continue shaving in a downward motion from the front to the back, leaving the hair on your cat's face, mane, feet and end of tail. Animal clippers can nick your cat's skin if not used correctly, so contact a professional groomer if you are inexperienced.
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