Cats that have mats are unhappy kitties. The fur often is matted along the belly and beneath the tail. Cats can be matted for a variety of reasons, but the most common has to do with the cat being long haired and unable to keep up with grooming. You can help remedy the situation by grooming your cat.
Cats mat when something becomes stuck in the cat's fur and the fur twists around it. It could be loose hair, dirt or debris or, in the case of a sick cat, diarrhoea. Most cats that have mats are long haired but any cat may mat, especially if the cat is sick.
A cat that is matted because it does not groom itself is sick and needs to be examined by a veterinarian. Some illnesses such as cancer, dementia and various infections need to be treated. Cats with diarrhoea also should be seen by a veterinarian.
Mats can cause your cat to be miserable. Mats can cause skin infections such as moist dermatitis and can help harbour unwanted external parasites such as fleas. If the mat is around the anal area, it can impede your cat's ability to defecate.
Many people believe that because cats groom themselves and that they do not need any additional grooming. This is incorrect as some cats cannot remove mats from their long hair, or have such long hair around their back legs that faeces cling to the hair. It's important to learn how to groom your cat so it isn't miserable.
If your cat is prone to mats, you should comb and brush your cat at least weekly to ensure a tangle-free coat. You can use a detangler made especially for pets. If your cat's faeces are sticking to its back legs, use a pet clipper to shorten the hair around the anal area and back legs.
If the mats are really bad, take your cat to the veterinarian or a professional groomer to remove the mats. Do not try to clip out the mats yourself with scissors as you will likely cut your cat's skin.