Attack Those Mats!
March 13, 2015
Generally speaking, a cat is a self-cleaning entity. Their tongues are specially equipped with backward-facing barbs made of keratin (similar to that in our fingernails) that act like a hairbrush.
We’ve all felt these when our cats lick us, right? And you know that cats spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves? This is an important activity for personal health, and can also play a part in social behavior.
So, what happens when you notice Fluffy’s fur is lacking in luster? Sometimes “dirty” fur is an indicator of an illness or disease and sometimes it’s an indicator that your cat isn’t grooming as well as it used to (it’s recommended that a cat see their veterinarian at least once a year for a physical and blood test to determine overall health).
“Dirty fur” happens most often in overweight and/or elderly cats that simply can’t pretzel themselves into all the necessary grooming positions. Sometimes in the case of a long-haired kitty that is not grooming itself well, will likely develop mats in its fur. In extreme cases, mats grow very large, sometimes covering large portions of the body, and cats may experience one or more of the following issues from matting: decreased mobility, pain when hair is pulling on the skin, sores under the mats, and more. Regular brushing at home will often keep mats at bay, but if your kitty won’t let you brush them, or if mats develop in hard-to-reach places or are too big, many cat parents opt for grooming services, usually in the form of a lion cut. This requires the use of clippers or shavers and generally removes the fur on the body down to a half-inch or so, leaving only the legs and mane, hence the name lion cut. The remaining fur feels velvety smooth and will grow back over time.
A problem area we see often when it comes to grooming is the “business end” of our furry friends. If your kitty gets litter or fecal material stuck to its backside and surrounding areas, a very popular solution is called the sanitary clip. It’s usually a quick swipe of the clippers resulting in a hair-free area about two inches square, right beneath the base of the tail. Some kitties need these done regularly to keep the area clean. Trust us, there’s no shame in needing this particular cut! It’s very common and also very helpful.
More information about fur matting can be found in the ASPCA's article, A Haircut Could Save a Life: Preventing Your Pet's Coat from Matting
Learn more information about our grooming services, and feel free to call us with any questions.